Mateus and Peha (2011)
|Mateus and Peha (2011)|
|Title:||Quantifying Global Transfers of Copyrighted Content using BitTorrent|
|Author(s):||Mateus, A., Peha, J.|
|Citation:||Mateus, A. M., & Peha, J. M. (2011, September). Quantifying Global Transfers of Copyrighted Content using BitTorrent. TPRC.|
|Link(s):||Definitive , Open Access|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Using data collected over 106 days between August 2010 and February 2011 from the most popular public BitTorrent tracker, we find an average of 2.6 million BitTorrent swarms offering content at any moment, from which we estimate that a lower bound of 380 million copies of content with more than 1024 bytes are transferred on average per day.|
|Data Type:||Primary and Secondary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||Yes|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:||
This paper presents the most accurate empirical study to date to characterize and quantify the amount of content of various types that is transferred worldwide using BitTorrent, the dominant peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing application. Using data we collected from the largest public BitTorrent tracker over 106 days between August 2010 and February 2011 and a new methodology, we find that for some content types, the number of copies transferred is an order of magnitude greater than the number sold through legal channels. For example, we estimate that 10.7 songs were transferred using BitTorrent for every song sold, 3.6 movies were transferred using BitTorrent for every legal sale or rental of a DVD or Blu-ray, and 227 movies were transferred using BitTorrent for every paid download. We also find that the vast majority of music and video content transferred using BitTorrent is copyrighted, as demonstrated both by the swarm metadata we observed, and the fact that only 0.55% of the transfers were of files indexed by websites that specialize in content that can be transferred legally. This article assesses what and how much content is transferred using BitTorrent, currently the most popular file sharing P2P protocol in use, with the purpose of fulfilling three objectives. The first objective is to provide a reasonable empirically derived lower bound for the number of copies of copyrighted titles transferred using BitTorrent. The second objective is to break that lower bound down into categories depending on characteristics of content transferred. The third objective is to understand which content formats and technical characteristics of content (different methods of video digitalization, video resolutions and audio bit rates) users prefer.
Main Results of the Study
- BitTorrent transfers result in hundreds of millions of copyright violations worldwide per day, and that copyright holders fail to realize significant revenues as a result.
- Movies are the type of content most supplied and most transferred in BitTorrent (shared in 38.7% of swarms and accounting for 26.1% of transfers). Songs and software, despite being shared in small percentages of swarms (4.5% and 7.2% of swarms respectively), rank 2nd and 3rd in terms of transfers (with 20.4% and 16.8% of transfers respectively).
- This demonstrates limitations of past studies that estimated the economic impact of P2P by looking at which content is available rather than trying to measure the number of actual transfers. Surprisingly, most of the copies transferred using BitTorrent come from a small number of extremely popular titles; 37 song titles account for half of all songs transferred, and 117 movies account half of all movie transfers. Thus, for a global marketplace, the importance of the “long tail” of less popular content is smaller than we and others have observed in more localized studies. In general, the content that is popular in legal channels is also popular with BitTorrent, but we observe some important differences. For example, we find that content that is popular among teenagers is more likely to be disproportionally represented in BitTorrent transfers as compared to content that appeals to an older audience.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
From a legal perspective, the findings show that copyright law is infringed hundreds of millions of times per day around the world. From the perspective of the revenue of copyright holders, it indicates that there is likely significant revenue that is not realized due to the impact of such illegal transfers.
Coverage of Study
|Level of aggregation:||Torrent swarms|
|Period of material under study:||2010-2011|