Like many of you, we’ve been following Netflix with great interest. We are subscribers. We are fans. We believe in the work that they are doing. And we support their effort to innovate and evolve digital distribution, in ways that are sustainable for creators, other rights-holders and fans. That said, we were surprised by some of the comments made by Ted Sarandos recently during an interview with Stuff.tv.
We strongly agree with his perspective that making more good content more accessible will curb piracy. However, we want to take a moment to correct two of his comments. The first issue is the application of BitTorrent as a synonym for Internet piracy. The second is the assertion that BitTorrent traffic drops as Netflix is introduced to new markets. Neither statement is true.
Mr. Sarandos can perhaps be forgiven for making the first error. It is a common misconception that we are working hard to address. The truth is that BitTorrent is an Internet protocol, like HTTP. For over a decade, it’s been the world’s most efficient way to move data across the web. It’s what the Internet’s core platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, use for code deployment. It’s what leading gaming brands, including Blizzard and Eve Online, use for updates. It’s what genetic researchers use to move human genome sequences. And it’s relied on by the scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider. Any company moving large data sets uses BitTorrent. Any person trying to preserve terabytes of data uses BitTorrent. They are not Internet pirates.
BitTorrent was designed to move data. It was not designed for piracy. In fact, as a stand-alone tool, it’s not even a very good technology for piracy. We have never hosted infringing content. We have never endorsed it. To be clear, we are not a file-sharing site. Our technology does not rip DVDs, nor does it capture movies in the theater. We have never pointed to, indexed, or promoted infringing content in any way.
We do, however, promote creators and curators who publish and preserve content using BitTorrent. Today, we have more than 2,000,000 (yes, you read that correctly) pieces of legal and licensed content in the BitTorrent ecosystem. To put that in perspective, Netflix has previously reported having 60,000. We are engineers and scientists focused on making the Internet sustainable and creatively viable through distributed computing. Which leads to the second point.
In 2009, we implemented μTP, or “Micro Transport Protocol.” This was done, voluntarily, to help solve a major problem facing the Internet: congestion. Many of you will recall the Net Neutrality crisis a few years back. Our implementation of μTP helped resolve the issue. μTP dials back BitTorrent traffic during peak hours in order to give priority to other applications, such as Netflix. In doing so, we saved the ISPs a lot of money and public relations headaches. We did so at our own cost, because it was the right thing to do for the Internet and the people who rely on it.
We do things big. We make things durable. We have introduced several award-winning technologies. Those who know us see us as champions of the Internet. Even Hollywood is realizing that we are not the Boogeyman, and we’re finding ways to work together. Fast Company named us one of the world’s most innovative companies for our work with content creators. And we’re just getting started.
We understand this storyline is being framed by those looking to stir up controversy. But those who know better realize there is no such thing as a “BitTorrent Pirate”, and that we are not competing with the likes of Netflix. We’re actually finding ways to support companies like them, content creators, studios, and other rights-holders directly. At this very moment, we’re getting ready to roll out an Alpha program that we believe could drive more traffic to Netflix (and others), should the content creator or rights-holder so choose.
Watch this space for further news on that front. We’re alive and kicking.
Oh. And regarding that 4K issue, we think we can help.