Will an open source BitTorrent be good or bad?

Summary:BitTorrent has decided to open source its new uTorrent protocol, which has now entered a public beta.

BitTorrent has decided to open source its new uTorrent protocol, which has now entered a public beta.

The software is available at GitHub and the license can be viewed here. Reportedly this is the MIT License.

The new software supports streaming as files are downloading, by downloading portions of a file in order. There is also a new web service aimed at making multiple torrent clients easier to manage.

The software also has features ISPs might like. It's more aware of congestion, and will automatically rein itself in.

This dynamic throttling capability may make some downloads slower, but Ars Technica notes uTorrent will also grab 100% of available bandwidth when that's available, so some might be faster.

TorrentFreak writes that this traffic shaping feature may prove unpopular with users, but that open sourcing the code will let other developers innovate around problems.

Over the years BitTorrent has been blamed for everything from film piracy to the heartbreak of psoriasis, and as news of this filters into the mainstream media over the next week it will be interesting to see what the reaction is. So far most of the reaction is technical in nature.

If bad guys can now get torrent code easily, for instance, what might happen to security? And if the excuse of ISP bandwidth throttling is gone, what excuse will cable operators like Comcast deploy  in campaigning against it?

And how will Bob Kerrey respond? The former Nebraska Senator was recently chosen the next head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which is continuing its campaign to shutter Torrent tracking sites.

Topics: Open Source


Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and has covered technology since 1982. He launched the Interactive Age Daily, the first daily coverage of the Internet to launch with a magazine, in September 1994.

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