The odd, controversial signs that have been popping up all around the Bay Area lately with messages like “all your data should belong to the NSA” and “the internet should be regulated” now have a source: BitTorrent.

Guerrilla marketing 101, meet the #101.

“These statements represent an assault on freedom,” BitTorrent posted today on its blog. “They also, for the most part, represent attitudes Internet culture has accepted. Chips we’ve traded for convenience. Part of the allegiance we’ve sworn to the web’s big platforms and server farms. That’s what you get for going online.”

BitTorrent’s goal, of course, is freedom and privacy. Freedom from surveillance, whether by the shadowy arms of the executive branch or the silent tracking of the modern advertising ecosystem. And freedom to send and store data and files as you wish.

In other words, BitTorrent says, freedom like the internet used to have:

This is not just an expression of who and what BitTorrent is, of course — although it is that too.

It’s also a marketing campaign — that has had the entire Bay Area technorati talking — for BitTorrent’s new store-in-the-file product for artists, a file format called BitTorrent Bundles where the art is the cash register and sharing is a form of currency, not a form of theft.

The new format embeds a pay gate inside content, and the payment can be a share, a like, a sign-up, a donation, an actual cash payment, or just about anything the artist wishes, which is a really interesting way for BitTorrent to remain true to its core values of privacy and freedom while offering an option to artists both indie and corporate to benefit from the fruits of their labor.

BitTorrent BundlesIn fact, BitTorrent goes so far as to call itself not just a decentralized file-sharing network or protocol but an “artist-owned publishing platform.” It’s one that Tim Ferriss of 4-Hour fame has used, as have Madonna, the Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, and Linkin Park, among other groups, artists, and publishers.

“This is the generation that will decide whether the Internet is a tool for control or a platform for innovation and freedom, BitTorrent says. “We have an incredible opportunity. We can shape the next one and one hundred years of human connection. A free, open Internet is a force for change, creativity; the backbone of a society where citizens are stakeholders, not data sets.”

BitTorrent’s protocol has always been about freedom — freedom for Internet users to do what they want without surveillance or without thought for law or regulation.

The organization’s new file format retains that freedom while also adding a very welcome way for artists’ and publishers’ real contributions to our culture be recognized, where and how they see fit.


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