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BitTorrent Closes Source Code 390

Posted by samzenpus
from the taking-my-toys-and-going-home dept.
An anonymous reader writes ""There are two issues people need to come to grips with," BitTorrent CEO Ashwin Narvin told Slyck.com. "Developers who produce open source products will often have their product repackaged and redistributed by businesses with malicious intent. They repackage the software with spyware or charge for the product. We often receive phone calls from people who complain they have paid for the BitTorrent client." As for the protocol itself, that too is closed, but is available by obtaining an SDK license."
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BitTorrent Closes Source Code

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  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:35PM (#20165159) Homepage Journal

    "There are two issues people need to come to grips with," BitTorrent CEO Ashwin Narvin told Slyck.com. "The genie is back in the bottle, and the cat is back in the bag."

    Sorry, I just thought that was funny. If you RTFA, though, it sounds like the sky isn't falling just yet. The client, which was closed source before, is still free (as in free beer), and the protocol is available to anyone who asks for it.

    • by Zeio (325157) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @04:39AM (#20167013)
      Response to this: fork and die.

      BitTorrent/Bram just sealed a casket. Charging for a protocol is like charging for TCP. And with Azureus Vuze and mldonkey out there who cares.

      There is room in this world for basically Microsoft and maybe IBM to charge for "protocols," (like the ability to stream WMV and play it), but to open and then close = fork and die.

      That Ashwin guy is a rug-merchant type, he knows how to wheel and deal and do the CEO thing, but I think he doesn't get why his company isn't a commercial success, and closing the source code isn't going make commercial miracles happen - this is like a fish flopping around on the deck of a fishing troller. . To throw is words back at him, a bottled genie cant grant wishes.

      You think the content companies, and Yahoo, and all the other people trying to trickle-channel or channel media with P2P don't have the specs for a protocol like this? What would prevent them from DIY rather than pay BT? Nothing.

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:04AM (#20167399) Journal

        My final year project as an undergrad was designing and implementing a protocol for roughly the same target as BitTorrent. BitTorrent started to become popular after I had begun working, and so I tried to compare my protocol to theirs for the final dissertation. It always amazed me that a protocol could become popular with no documentation; the only protocol documentation I could find was the (Python) code for the official client.

        After finding out as much as I could about the protocol, it seemed like every time there was a design decision to be made, they picked the wrong one. The protocol has a staggering overhead, no possibility of adding multicast if it becomes widely deployed, and the out of band channels are designed in such a way as to make it trivial for anyone with a basic understanding of game theory to create a client that leaches a huge amount more than it uploads.

        Hopefully this move will encourage the IETF to ratify a decent peer to peer protocol (have they even got a P2P WG yet?).

        • by Stiletto (12066) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @08:56AM (#20168377)
          So, release yours as open source, assuming it works. There's clearly demand for an open protocol such as this, and one that "did things right" and outperformed BitTorrent would probably become quite popular.
        • by jsight (8987) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @09:57AM (#20169131) Homepage
          You are definitely right about the spec. The "official" spec from Bram Cohen was somewhat of a joke. The best that is available is:
          http://wiki.theory.org/BitTorrentSpecification [theory.org]
  • by tonsofpcs (687961) <slashbackNO@SPAMtonsofpcs.com> on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:39PM (#20165191) Homepage Journal
    So basically BitTorrent bought uTorrent and is staying closed source (as uTorrent is now). Q: How will this impact the BitTorrent open source development community as a whole? A: There will be no impact to the BitTorrent open source development community. We are committed to maintaining the preeminent reference implementation of BitTorrent under an open source license. Although the latest documentations won't be published for the world to see, an aspiring BitTorrent developer or a hardened coder can still obtain the specifications on the latest protocol extensions by obtaining a SDK [slyck.com] license.
    • by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:53PM (#20165315) Homepage
      Not exactly. The only mention of an SDK on the Bittorrent site is part of a "device certification program" [bittorrent.com], that would undoubtedly involve paying Bittorrent in exchange for licensing their now proprietary information and some offical seal of approval. There is no mention of open source projects being able to see/use any changes in the protocol. Luckily, I assume that most bittorrent trackers (public or private), will ban any incompatible official client if the protocol does change, rather than adopting the official client and abandoning all of the others.
      • by tonsofpcs (687961)
        The SDK may be targeted at development of hardware, however anyone getting it will still gain access to the protocol.
      • by Firehed (942385) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:04AM (#20165797) Homepage
        Oh big deal. In a big fit of irony, the SDK will hit Bit-torrent within minutes. At the end of the day, Bit-torrent is mostly used for piracy, so Bit-torrent, Inc, of all organizations, should realize that this is an absolutely useless attempt at who-knows-what.

        Alternately, all of the open-source clients could develop a separate protocol that they would all implement in parallel to the official one. A fork of sorts, but expect all clients to end up supporting both/all when all is said and done.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Linuxpops (1140185)
          Maybe you use it for piracy but I use it to download my linux distributions, you tube files, etc. so please put things in proper context! Remarkable amount of FUD going around lately along with theft. More prosecution for violation of GPL needs to happen.
          • by Toby_Tyke (797359) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:20AM (#20167491) Journal
            FUD is pretending that bit torrent is NOT used mostly for piracy. Take a look on piratebay or mininova. The vast majority of torrents on there are for copyrighted material that the uploaders have no legal right to share. All the people downloading Linux distros probably don't even come close to the numbers downloading movies. Admittedly, I'm not aware of any detailed research on the issue, but the evidence available clearly indicates that the most popular use of bit torrent is illeagle distribution of copyrighted works.

            That's certainly all I use it for.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Crayon Kid (700279)

              FUD is pretending that bit torrent is NOT used mostly for piracy.


              No, FUD is when you blame a protocol or software for the way people are using them.

              "TCP is used mostly for piracy." There. It's probably true, too. Kinda sounds silly when you pick on TCP, doesn't it, and yet so righteous when you pick on BT. Why is that?

              Must be that whole OSI model nepotism thing, playing favorites with lower levels, damn you ISO!
        • by appleLaserWriter (91994) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:03AM (#20166117)
          Oh big deal. In a big fit of irony, the SDK will hit Bit-torrent within minutes. At the end of the day, Bit-torrent is mostly used for piracy, so Bit-torrent, Inc, of all organizations, should realize that this is an absolutely useless attempt at who-knows-what.

          No, you completely misunderstand, Bittorrent's management are absolutely brilliant. If they keep bittorrent open source, then it's impossible to pirate. By "closing" it, they are actually making it possible for people to get bittorrent as god intended. By pirating it.
  • Does anyone know how this will impact other open source clients such as Azureus?
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:47PM (#20165251)
      Affect them? Hardly at all. Let's face it, other teams have grabbed the ball and are running with it. The official Bit Torrent folks are going to have to work to stay at all relevant, "premier reference implementations" aside.
    • by gujo-odori (473191) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:55PM (#20165329)
      Does anyone "know" how it will impact other clients? No, we don't "know" that, however, a reasonable estimate would be "not much, if at all."

      utorrent may be the single most popular BT client as TFA claims (OTOH, most of the peers I see are Azureus and Ktorrent. I don't know if that's just because I'm in the odd niche of only doing legal stuff over BT (no, it exists, really Linux and *BSD ISOs), or if most people are using those, I don't know.

      Either way, what I expect will happen if they go totally closed will be much like what happened with SSH. After the official SSH became closed and proprietary, the OpenSSH project picked up where they had left off, and while SSH is still in business and has a product line, OpenSSH took over the market and is now far more popular, on both the client side and the server. If BT totally closes everything off and makes the protocol incompatible with open versions, I think we can reasonably expect to see the open source version fork and take over the BT market.
      • by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:39PM (#20165611) Homepage Journal

        Does anyone "know" how it will impact other clients? No, we don't "know" that, however, a reasonable estimate would be "not much, if at all."

        The problem being that when one company has near monopoly, and in the eye of the public is indistinguishable from the product, they can close source, then change the specs (even if the spec is published), and the open source alternatives won't be able to compete.
        This is partially because they'll always play catch-up, and partially because they won't be able to improve the specs themselves -- if they do, they'll become incompatible, and crushed by the product everyone uses.

        Example of just this effect: RTF, which Microsoft bought back in 1990. Open source RTF readers are usually several versions behind, and anyone expecting to read RTF documents no matter what version have to use the latest Microsoft products to do so. This is not what the situation was like back when RTF was still open (despite being proprietary), and DEC let anyone see the coming changes.

        And that's the best case scenario. The worst case scenario is if they close the specs too. That, of course, will kill them in the end, but in the mean time it's going to cause lots of grief.
        • by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot@kadin.xoxy@net> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:58AM (#20166087) Homepage Journal

          The problem being that when one company has near monopoly, and in the eye of the public is indistinguishable from the product, they can close source, then change the specs (even if the spec is published), and the open source alternatives won't be able to compete.
          They have a monopoly ... how, exactly?

          People use Bittorrent -- or more specifically, many people use uTorrent -- to connect to public BT trackers and to other people running similar client programs. Bittorrent (the company) doesn't control either. In fact, I don't think that Bittorrent-the-company's "reference implementation" is particularly popular for trackers, and they're really where the marketshare matters.

          I don't think that the majority of bittorent (the protocol) users are just going to bend over and throw away the software that they've liked, just because Bittorrent (the company) decides it would be cool to produce a new, ad-laden, DRM-using, Hollywood-mogul-approved version of their software, that breaks compatibility with older versions. In fact, I strongly suspect that the trackers which drive the more popular torrent aggregation sites would refuse to recognize such a "broken" implementation, and would instead favor free implementations (old versions of uTorrent, Azureus, etc.).

          What's happening here is that Bittorrent (the company) has become fully decoupled from bittorrent (the protocol). They have very little leverage over the latter; about all they have is the rights to the name "Bittorrent," and the 'reference implementation,' which won't be worth its weight in electrons once they start messing with it.

          The comparisons to Microsoft and RTF aren't really apt, because Microsoft had a way they could easily control the format -- they just made future versions of Word produce output that was incompatible with other vendors' software. But Bittorrent can't really do that, because a bittorrent client is only useful insofar as it can communicate with the swarm. As long as the trackers that drive the most popular torrents (which, let's face it, are the illegal ones; warez and movies) don't start using the new/broken protocols, it seems unlikely that a broken protocol would gain traction.

    • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:44AM (#20166535) Journal
      It'll be just like when SSH Inc. closed SSH. Guess what - SSH Inc's ssh implementation is no longer the reference implementation - instead, OpenSSH has become the reference implementation. BitTorrent Inc. can say they are the reference implementation as often as they like but it won't make it true - instead, an open BitTorrent implementation will probably become the reference, and just like SSH Inc. BitTorrent Inc. will fade towards irrelevance (although they may continue to exist).
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:42PM (#20165213)
    .. the moment Bit Torrent was commercialised and started playing with the big TV guys this was bound to happen. I'm just surprised it took so long.

    Malicious software re-packaging is a lame excuse too.
    • by SolitaryMan (538416) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:29AM (#20166475) Homepage Journal

      Malicious software re-packaging is a lame excuse too.

      This excuse is exactly what pisses me off the most. I mean, you want to close the source? Fine, just don't act like you're "doing it for the children".

  • So.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RyanFenton (230700) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:44PM (#20165233)
    What's the name going to be for the upcoming auto-encrypted open-sourced fork of Bittorrent?

    Ryan Fenton
    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Funny)

      by MalusCaelestis (172079) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:01PM (#20165361) Homepage

      Ryan Fenton? That's a strange name for a protocol...

    • Re:So.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pilot1 (610480) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:12PM (#20165433)

      What's the name going to be for the upcoming auto-encrypted open-sourced fork of Bittorrent?
      This is where it could get ugly. uTorrent is the most popular client, at least according to the article, and it's closed source. If the protocol is forked and modified enough to be incompatible with the older protocol versions, there's going to be some fragmentation. Anyone using uTorrent wouldn't be able to connect to people using the new protocol. uTorrent users would have to switch to a new client if its developers refused to update its protocol. Or worse, uTorrent users might continue to use uTorrent while everyone else uses the new protocol, causing nasty fragmentation.
      • Re:So.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kadin2048 (468275) * <slashdot@kadin.xoxy@net> on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:27AM (#20166193) Homepage Journal

        Anyone using uTorrent wouldn't be able to connect to people using the new protocol. uTorrent users would have to switch to a new client if its developers refused to update its protocol.
        This is true. Here's the scenario I see happening: (I'm using 'Bittorrent' to refer to the company, and 'bittorrent' to refer to the protocol as it currently stands)

        -Bittorrent creates a new protocol (I'll call it 'bt2') that is completely incompatible with bittorrent as it currently stands. The new protocol offers heavy-duty user authentication and encryption, and is basically designed to distribute pay-to-watch Hollywood movies, in order to save the studios from actually paying their own bandwidth bills.
        -Bittorrent "updates" uTorrent to use the new bt2 protocol, although it would probably be more of a complete rewrite. They ignore the old open-source 'reference implementation,' announce that it's deprecated, and try to get everyone to download the new client.
        -People running porn/warez/movies trackers do nothing, keep running the tracker software that they're using right now.
        -Some idiot users will undoubtedly go and download the "new and improved" uTorrent, fire it up, and realize that they can't connect to anything, and the .torrents that they get from The Pirate Bay do nothing. (Alternately, I suppose it's possible that Bittorrent could make their 'official client' backwards-compatible with bittorrent as well as bt2, in which case users could potentially use the Bittorrent-supplied client to download their warez ... though they'd have to be a bit of a retard to use a client supplied by a company that's in bed with the movie studios to download pirated content.)
        -Users delete new uTorrent, go back to old version, or get Azureus instead.

        Going forward, I think that what'll happen is there there will either be a complete fork, with Bittorrent splitting completely from the mainstream community and producing a client that's used only for commercial applications (distributing movies, etc.), and which can't connect to most non-commercial trackers, or they will continue to produce uTorrent and try to play both sides of the street with it: connecting via the new protocol to commercial trackers for pay-to-watch content and the regular protocol to all other trackers so that it doesn't get totally ignored by users.

        However, this puts Bittorrent in the unenviable position of having to constantly keep up with the OSS side of things, and doesn't really threaten the openness of the protocol. Any way you cut it, they're going to be following, not leading.
      • Re:So.... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @02:33AM (#20166497)
        Yeah, they're trying to act like Dan Bernstein (with daemontools and qmail) and prevent forks that do things in ways they don't like. Some of that desire may be legitimate, but one real desire is probably the desire to avoid encrypted transfers becoming common place and leavingn them vulnerable to governmental complaint about un-tappable data transfers.

        I can easily picture the various motion picture and software copyright lawyers sending a few dark glasses wearing "lawyers" to explain "nice little business you got here, I'd hate to see anything happen to it" to encourage Bittorrent both to avoid providing encrypted transfers and to add "load monitoring" features that ease tracking. I'm not saying this is sure to happen, but with the source closed, it wouldn't take much to add hooks to report specific downloads to the mothership.
  • The article seems to be going in two or three different directions. I don't much care what happens to the "official BitTorrent client," be it what I downloaded the first time I tried BT, or the new Torrent incarnation.

    I haven't used an official client in a very long time and I've never used Torrent. I use a client called "burst!" which hasn't been updated in more than a year. It works just fine for me right now, but I'm curious as to whether or not that's going to continue. I sense that the headline for thi
    • Apparently the "u" that I copied out of charmap got swallowed by the lameness filter, or something. "Torrent incarnation" and "never used Torrent" should read "uTorrent incarnation" and "never used uTorrent," respectively.
    • I'm confused by their product description of "Bittorrent 6.0" - No hardware configuration - reduced hassle of fast downloads. How can their program forward ports on my router for me... sounds bogus.
      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:07PM (#20165405)
        Hm, it seems to be referring to UPnP (which I have vehemently disabled on my router).. but I wonder if they have any idea what they're talking about [bittorrent.com]. If you can't accept incoming connections that just means that your client initiates all transfers of data, not that you're completely incapable of uploading. Good clients like utorrent (and apparently not Bittorrent 6.0) will give/trade data without being asked if there's available upload bandwidth. Not the best for efficiency (though I should think it'd at least volunteer less-available data first) but it gets you a high ratio nonetheless.
  • If only... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:46PM (#20165245)
    Wouldn't it be great if someone could create some kind of license that allowed free access to the source code, but provided grounds to sue malicious companies that attempted to take that code and include it in closed source proprietary products without giving anything back to the community!

    Oh, wait...
    • Re:If only... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:50PM (#20165277)
      Yeah ... sounds like the Bit Torrent folks just shot themselves squarely in the foot. I doubt the Azureus developers, for example, have any need whatsoever for an SDK, official or otherwise. It's just a protocol people, nothing more, and it's far too late to close it up.
  • So.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:48PM (#20165253) Homepage
    So I wonder how long it will be before the source is out on the Pirate Bay...
  • by Paranoia Agent (887026) <keithmichael@gma ... minus physicist> on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:49PM (#20165273) Homepage
    I'm a bit confused by this. Isn't this what licenses are for? Why not just sue the people selling and profiting from your open source product for breaking the license? It just seems to me that the reasoning doesn't make much sense. There are plenty of examples of people selling closed source software that's "free" to people who don't know any better(like Kazaa) and are less tight-fisted with their money than I am. It seems to me that decisions like this don't scare off someone someone who wants to resell your program to make a buck, doesn't help someone so incurious as to not wonder if there is a free version of the software they are being asked to buy, but does hurt the person who just wants the source for their own reasons. Am I wrong?
    • by grcumb (781340) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:02PM (#20165369) Homepage Journal

      I'm a bit confused by this. Isn't this what licenses are for? Why not just sue the people selling and profiting from your open source product for breaking the license?

      Because that's not enough to constitute infringement of the license. People are welcome to repackage and resell GPL software. But they also need to consider trademark issues. They can call the software almost anything they like, they can claim that their product is just like another, but if they claim that their product is the other one, then the original company can take them to court and sue their euphemisms off.

      And that, of course, is why claiming that GPLed software is open to this kind of abuse is the reddest of red herrings. Trading on someone else's good name is well covered in the laws of most countries, and the GPL has exactly zero impact on such abusive practices.

  • Who cares? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rix (54095) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:50PM (#20165275)
    The company that owns the BitTorrent trademark is not the arbiter of the protocol or anything else. Do they even own that trademark?

    Note that they opposed the addition of encryption, and they were completely ignored. BitTorrent, the company, is entirely irrelevant.
  • Bittornado (Score:3, Interesting)

    by urikkiru (801560) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @10:55PM (#20165325) Journal
    http://www.bittornado.com/ [bittornado.com]

    There, that should tide us over for a while.
  • by NormalVisual (565491) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:01PM (#20165359)
    "Welcome to obscurity, gentlemen. We hope you enjoy your stay. To ease your transition, we've assigned a personal guide for the both of you. Heidi, please call Mr. Fanning and let him know his group is here."
  • Isn't this what the GPL is for?
    • Re:GPL (Score:5, Informative)

      by Secret Rabbit (914973) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:42PM (#20165633) Journal
      The GPL cannot keep the original author from changing the license and closing the source nor can it prevent the protocol from being closed either.

      The only thing it can do is keep that source (the version that was under the GPL) available to the open-source community. Which, btw, can be accomplished by any other open-source license. Btw, they have already done this.

      Basically, we're in the exact same situation now that we would have been if it was GPL'd.
  • New torrent alternative needs to distinguish phony crap and drm.

  • From TFA:

    "Q: How will this impact the BitTorrent open source development community as a whole?

    A: There will be no impact to the BitTorrent open source development community. We are committed to maintaining the preeminent reference implementation of BitTorrent under an open source license."
    Slashdot editors, you are fucking retarded.
    • by Max Littlemore (1001285) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:11AM (#20165857)

      While we're at it, let's point out how wonderful some of those tags are.

      This story is tagged "lame" and "bastards" among other things. So yeah, if I'm interested in looking up info on OSS software being closed, I'll be sure to look for articles tagged "lame". That imediately makes so much sense to me, and you guys clearly know what good tagging's all about. Tagging's a great way of expressing opinions on entire stories without having to own up to them. You don't even have to have to LEAVE A FUCKING COMMENT WITH A USER NAME.

      C'mon, at least post AC, dickheads.

  • by twitter (104583) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:14PM (#20165453) Homepage Journal

    "Developers who produce open source products will often have their product repackaged and redistributed by businesses with malicious intent. They repackage the software with spyware or charge for the product. ... As for the protocol itself, that too is closed, but is available by obtaining an SDK license."

    The risks are great and I don't see a pay off.

    As one person has already pointed out, too much of the wrong thing will isolate and destroy them [slashdot.org]

    .

    Going non free will also make their problems worse. The malice described is a problem that free software creates. The only reason crackers and MAFIAA can get away with charging people for spyware derivatives is because Windoze and the clients are not free to begin with. Real free software can be packaged by distributions like Debian, which assure the user the software has been checked for malware by an impartial third party. The further away from that model they get, the more problems they will have. The dirtbags will go right along with what they are doing and their life will be easier.

  • This will become (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125)
    The "new and improved" RIAA approved BitTorrent protocol. This is the official one that won't be throttled by your ISP. Full of DRM goodies for Hollywood to control.
  • The difference (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rinisari (521266) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:20PM (#20165493) Homepage Journal
    There is a difference, here. uTorrent has always been closed, so it's not the client that's being closed. What people are or should be worried about are changes to the protocol. Hopefully, we won't see BitTorrent 6.0+ clients being blocked from trackers other than BitTorrent.com's tracker because of a silly change in the protocol that disrupts clients using v5 and earlier. Unfortunately, this means that if Bram, Ludde, and company engineer some wicked addition to the protocol that drastically improves it, the open source community will either 1) not have access to it or 2) have to reverse engineer it.

    Additionally, only the main BitTorrent.com tracker would have access to tracker-side protocol updates. So, this then means that the only benefit of using the mainline client is when downloading from the BitTorrent.com tracker!

    Is BitTorrent pigeonholing itself; is it forming its own niche within its once-large niche?
  • I can only hope... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueCoder (223005) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:55PM (#20165721)
    That my fellow community developers will take this opportunity to drop the BitTorrent protocol. Time to develop something better.

    It's time we address it's critical failure... that you can see which IP's are trafficking in which files. There has to be an obscure way in which people can just exchange data blobs. Where the blobs are interleaved or multiplexed with data of other files and you don't know and can't know with all practicality what a particular blob contains until you finally collect enough blobs to reconstruct your data file. There are more blobs to be collected for a particular file for data redundancy but you only need to collect so many of them to recreate the data set. Meanwhile sure you downloaded more data then you needed to for that particular file but all the blobs you downloaded are still in demand from other people because of their relevance to other data sets. And you can safely continute to server those files because you don't necessarily know what multiplexed data they contain. Blobs also mutate and remix over time as to which combined data they contain.
    • bla bla bla blobs bla bla bla

      bla bla finally collect enough blobs bla bla

      downloaded more data then you need bla bla bla

      Worst. Protocol. Ever.
      And that's only skimming your description.

      Besides, not being able to preview files will pretty much make it useless for anything mainstream. Like pirating crap. So, if this protocol is never used for piracy, it will never need such insane protection from the MAFIAA because it will never blip on their radar. Oh, it can be used for other things, like downloading

  • by spoonboy42 (146048) on Wednesday August 08, 2007 @11:58PM (#20165759)

    From the article itself, it appears that, since acquiring uTorrent, a closed-source C++ BitTorrent client for Windows, Bittorrent, inc. has decided to keep it closed source, and also to make it the new "mainline" BitTorrent. The old "mainline" client, which is open-source, written in Python (with wx for the graphics) and is generally cross-platform, last I checked, will continue to be maintained as a "reference implementation", but might not always track the latest protocol updates to uTorrent. Full documentation on the protocol will apparently come with an "SDK license", which they claim is "easy to get".

    Well, first of all they ARE doing a few things that contradict the spirit of free software. Their main client app will be closed source, and although the reference implementation will apparently continue to be free, protocol docs require you to acquire a special license. A few years ago, these moves would have tightened Bittorrent inc's grip on the world of bt clients in general.

    Now, however, the landscape is different. I can't produce statistics for all torrent users in general, but when I take a look at my peers in my preferred client, KTorrent [ktorrent.org], there seems to be a near dead-heat for most popular client between uTorrent and Azureus [sourceforge.net] (also open source), with certain alternative clients like Transmission [m0k.org], Bitrocket [bitrocket.org], and KTorrent [ktorrent.org] making frequent appearances, as well (and all 3 of those examples? also open source). Although uTorrent certainly remains a big player, it doesn't confer upon BitTorrent, inc. the ability to dictate major compatibility-breaking protocol changes by fiat. The fact that the main implementation of BT was open source to start basically stops things from being ruined by more restrictive licensing now.

  • by SilentChris (452960) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:01AM (#20165771) Homepage
    Out of curiosity, what exactly is "wrong" about them closing the source in Bittorrent's case? I mean, if it was an OS or something where security was critical I could see a problem. But really the only "benefit" I saw from the source being available was a bunch of clients that just leeched without sharing their bandwidth.

    I know it's not the Slashdot party line, but not everything benefits from open source. Perhaps more importantly, this sets a bad precedent for companies that want to release code. If they ever have to pull back they have a PR mess on their end. Most PR flacks will just say not to release code to begin with.
    • by k3vlar (979024) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:12AM (#20165867)
      It wasn't about clients that leech bandwidth, it was about clients with great interfaces, and additional management methods, such as uTorrent or Azureus' web management. In my opinion, the mainline client was so lacking in features that I considered it to be unusable. Bittorrent owes some of it's success to the fact that there are so many great clients for people to choose. If you're looking for simple, try uTorrent or Transmission. If you need advanced features, try Azureus. People like this kind of choice. It saddens me to see this, as it means that clients might eventually become less compatible with closed-source revisions of the protocol, and we'll lose some great file-sharing software.
  • Heh heh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:10AM (#20165849)
    There's a trap waiting to happen.

    If they merge uTorrent (non-free, closed) with the older "BitTorrent 5.0" (open source, free), hell's going to break lose if there's any GPLed patches in the open source that Bram didn't make.

    GPL applies to even "lowly" patchers and debuggers code, as it does to the 10klines per day guys.. (joke)

    Im ready for a torrent of gpl-violations

  • by Mind Socket (180517) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:25AM (#20165933) Homepage
    Talk about closing the gate after the source has bolted!

    Sorry about that. Truly, deeply sorry.
  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @12:38AM (#20165999) Journal
    > Q: How will this impact the BitTorrent open source development community as a whole?

    A: Once word gets out about our RIAA backdoor, Azureus is going to kick our ass. Ummm... you better not print that.
  • What am i missing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KevMar (471257) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @01:47AM (#20166259) Homepage Journal
    Did they just say that the issue with open source was people taking the source code and doing there own thing with it? I thought that was the whole point of it.
  • by QX-Mat (460729) on Thursday August 09, 2007 @06:09AM (#20167425)
    What a clever move. If I had a successful software protocol up my sleeve, with strong replication authority (ie: what we do, everyone else does), that relies on other clients to maintain the network: i would seriously rethinking pushing them out.

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