The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent a letter to BitTorrent last week asking the company to help stop copyrighted infringement of its members’ content. Brad Buckles, RIAA’s executive vice president of anti-piracy, asked BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker to “live up to” comments made by former chief content officer Matt Mason.
Two quotes by Mason stand out in particular: “We don’t endorse piracy.” and “If you’re using BitTorrent for piracy, then you’re doing it wrong.” Both of these remain accurate, but the RIAA wants to see BitTorrent do more.
We contacted BitTorrent to get their stance on the letter, and the company responded to VentureBeat with the following statement:
Our position is that they are barking up the wrong tree, as it seems they were with their approach to CBS last week.
As informed commentary in the past few days has made plain, there is a distinction between the BitTorrent protocol and piracy. Piracy is a real thing, but BitTorrent, Inc. is not the source. We do not host, promote, or facilitate copyright infringing content and the protocol, which is in the public domain, is a legal technology.
We do however have a direct-to-fan platform for artists and content owners to use. More than 30,000 publishers have signed up for it to date, including some of the most popular music artists around the world.
The protocol is also used by some of the biggest online businesses, including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Blizzard, Wikipedia, Etsy, Internet Archive and many other businesses, governments, universities and nonprofits.
The CBS reference alludes to last week’s news, reported by Billboard, that a 16-member coalition that includes the RIAA sent a letter to CBS CEO Les Moonves alleging that CNET “has made various computer, web, and mobile applications available that induce users to infringe copyrighted content by ripping the audio or the audio and video from what might be an otherwise legitimate stream.” CBS owns CNET, which has a download section on its site that hosts hundreds of thousands of applications, and some of them aren’t very liked by the industry, according to the Billboard report.
That letter was similar to the one sent to BitTorrent, and the argument CBS counters with is also in the same vein. Namely, the legality of such software hinges on “fair use,” and the responsibility falls on the user of the software, not its creator or distributor.
You can read the RIAA’s letter to BitTorrent, which was first published earlier this week by Mashable, below.