Is Content Publishing in BitTorrent Altruistic or Profit-Driven?

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Association for Computing Machinery
Drexel University
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BitTorrent is the most popular P2P content delivery application where individual users share various type of content with tens of thousands of other users. The growing popularity of BitTorrent is primarily due to the availability of valuable content without any cost for the consumers. However, apart from required resources, publishing (sharing) valuable (and often copyrighted) content has serious legal implications for user who publish the material (or publishers). This raises a question that whether (at least major) content publishers behave in an altruistic fashion or have other incentives such as financial. In this study, we identify the content publishers of more than 55k torrents in 2 major BitTorrent portals and examine their behavior. We demonstrate that a small fraction of publishers are responsible for 66% of published content and 75% of the downloads. Our investigations reveal that these major publishers respond to two different profiles. On one hand, antipiracy agencies and malicious publishers publish a large amount of fake files to protect copyrighted content and spread malware respectively. On the other hand, content publishing in BitTorrent is largely driven by companies with financial incentive. Therefore, if these companies lose their interest or are unable to publish content, BitTorrent traffic/portals may disappear or at least their associated traffic will significantly reduce.
13 pages, 5 figures.-- ArXiv pre-print version available at:
Contributed to: The 6th International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies (ACM CoNEXT 2010, Philadelphia, PA, US, Nov 30th-Dec 3rd, 2010).
A talk on this paper was held at IMDEA Institute Madrid on Nov 23rd, 2010,
BitTorrent, Content publishing, Business model
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Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies (ACM CoNEXT 2010)