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A popular, distributed form of peer-to-peer file sharing that enables a client program to fetch different parts of a file (a "torrent") from different sources in parallel. The system is designed to encourage users to make downloaded data available for others to upload. This is aided by a scheme for exchanging unique identifiers, commonly stored in ".torrent" files. A downloader who does not serve data to others is called a "leech". A "seed" is a computer that has a complete copy of a file, possibly the original.

The site claims there are over 100 million users as of 2007-03-24.

Most of the data is copyright material like films or commercial software.


A popular protocol for sharing large files over the Internet, developed by Bram Cohen and released in 2001. In addition to Cohen's software, other BitTorrent client programs are available for all major platforms. There is no centralized server. Each downloading user becomes a source for another user who wants the same file. The BitTorrent client balances the load on the computer, because download speeds are faster than upload speeds.

Widely used for transferring pirated movies and software, BitTorrent, along with other file sharing systems, accounted for more than half of Internet traffic after the turn of the century. Since then, however, movie streaming from Netflix, YouTube and other legal sources became extremely popular, and BitTorrent traffic dropped dramatically.

BitTorrent breaks large files into smaller ones. A "torrent" is a file of meta-data that describes the files and the servers that keep track of the BitTorrent peers that have the parts of the file. In practice, a file itself is also called a torrent.

Users Share the Load (Leechers and Seeds)
A "seed" is a BitTorrent client that has the file. A "leecher" is a BitTorrent client in the process of downloading, and a leecher thus becomes a seed for someone else. However, a "leech" refers to people who exit BitTorrent after downloading, thus preventing seeding to others. For more information, visit

File sharing systems have been architected in different ways as outlined in the following illustrations. See peer-to-peer network, Napster and KaZaA.

References in periodicals archive ?
The latest pp2008 adopts an independently developed p2p protocol, which is compatible with http/ftp, Bit Torrent and eMule protocols.
The inventors of Napster, Gnutella, KaZaA, and Bit Torrent were vilified by the intellectual property community (including music and movie companies) for enabling the digital distribution of pirated copies of copyright material.
As he points out, the series as broadcast used only about 10 per cent of the interviews recorded, But it did use the most pertinent 10 per cent, so many of the interviews in the book simply repeat what is already available to those who purchase the series on VHS or DVD, or indeed download it from Bit Torrent.
P2PD is the new approach in the fight against contaminated P2P including contaminated Bit Torrent networks.
Scott McCausland was charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal copyright infringement after uploading Star Wars III to a bit torrent site.
The unemployed man was arrested Wednesday for uploading movies over the Internet via Bit Torrent from his home in Tuen Mun, according to Assistant Customs Commissioner William Chow.
TrustyFiles searches and downloads hundreds of millions of files over the Kazaa/Fast Track, Gnutella, Gnutella 2, and Bit Torrent P2P file sharing networks, as well as the Web.
Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay, which claims to have more than 31 million users, makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and computer game files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.
The website used a cheap, fast, easy and popular method called "peer-to-peer bit torrent file sharing".
org and grab the Bit Torrent file - there's a lot of interest in this project at the moment so the 441 MB ISO download rips along.
The sites to watch are file-swap networks like Kazaa and the increasingly popular Bit Torrent.
ASHWIN NAVIN, Co-founder and ex-President Bit Torrent, Founder and CEO Flingo