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Major Flaws Found In Recent BitTorrent Study 167

Caledfwlch writes with a followup to news we discussed a couple days ago about a study that found only 0.3% of torrents to be legal. (A further 11% was described as "ambiguous.") TorrentFreak looked more deeply into the study and found a number of flaws, suggesting that the researchers' data may have been pulled from a bogus tracker. Quoting: "Here's where the researchers make total fools out of themselves. In their answer to the question they refer to a table of the top 10 most seeded torrents. ... the most seeded file was uploaded nearly two years ago (The Incredible Hulk) and has a massive 1,112,628 seeders. The torrent in 10th place is not doing bad either with 277,043 seeds. All false data. We're not sure where these numbers originate from but the best seeded torrent at the moment only has 13,739 seeders; that's 1% of what the study reports. Also, the fact that the release is nearly two years old should have sounded some alarm bells. It appears that the researchers have pulled data from a bogus tracker, and it wouldn't be a big surprise if all the torrents in their top 10 are actually fake." They also take a cursory look at isoHunt, finding that 1.5% of torrent files come from Jamendo alone, "a site that publishes only Creative Commons licensed music."
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Major Flaws Found In Recent BitTorrent Study

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  • Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Theoboley ( 1226542 ) <theoboley@hotmai ... m minus math_god> on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:53PM (#33035594) Homepage
    Does this really surprise anyone?
  • Re:Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgagnon ( 1663075 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:56PM (#33035638)

    It probably surprises the people that thought they could get away with presenting bogus data. ;)

  • Move along (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:57PM (#33035642)
    Nothing to see here.
  • Imagine that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot.uberm00@net> on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:03PM (#33035706) Homepage Journal

    Industry group ending in 'AA' pays to have study conducted that supports their views, doesn't care so much about accuracy.

    News at eleven.

  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:07PM (#33035766) Journal

    One major problem with Bit Torrent is that you only get easy access to what is "popular" at any given time. I've gotten some TV show episodes (not available in the US) downloaded in a reasonable amount of time when I start the download within 24 hours of the original show being aired... but try to get the same episode 30 days later and availability drops in a hurry. Despite all the pro-P2P propaganda about how it "democratizes" data, it's really more a mob-rule popularity contest for grabbing the shiniest download.

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:07PM (#33035778) Journal

    Problem is, most people who visit this site already know what this article is stating. They knew the study was bogus from the start because they are more in tune with torrents than the people doing the study. The issue arises when the "Recent Study" slamming torrents makes the 6:00 news and it makes a nice segway into how to combat piracy - however this article, showing that the data was incorrect and that they are either embellishing or straight up lieing, will get no mention on mainstream media whatsoever. The people who need to see this news won't see it, and the people who see this news already know. More tragic than ironic.

  • by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:12PM (#33035836)

    Get on a better site.

  • by arbiter1 ( 1204146 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:12PM (#33035848)
    I smell stench of MPAA's money involved in this. inflate the numbers to make things look worse for them just like the riaa does
  • by JustinRLynn ( 831164 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:15PM (#33035908)
    That's the thing about pure democracy, it is essentially the tyranny of the majority. This means that as a necessary consequence of a purely democratic download system only the most popular is the easiest to download. It's very similar to a free market, in that respect, in that it is exceedingly easy to get say, captain crunch cereal, versus something rarer, like say, unbleached nightshade flower. In a system where nothing is limited you can get anything you want, but it doesn't go hand-in-hand with being able to get whatever you want easily.
  • Re:Honestly... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by clarkkent09 ( 1104833 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:18PM (#33035948)
    The only thing that surprises me is that there are people who think that it makes any difference whether it's 99.7% or only 98% (or whatever) of torrents that are illegal. We all know that vast majority of them are illegal so why pretend otherwise?
  • by Dalzhim ( 1588707 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:22PM (#33035994)

    Some country's laws may flag a torrent as illegal while other countries consider it as legal.
    As an example, someone could be downloading a copyrighted song for backup purposes while owning a legitimate copy and these fools will automatically classify this kind of download an infringement.

  • The bad news... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:32PM (#33036162)

    Guess which study the lobby groups (and consequently our politicians) are going to cite, and which one they will ignore?

    It's too bad that there wasn't a way to attach this debunking to the original study, so that you would have to consciously ignore it. It will be really easy to lose these new findings in the shuffle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:37PM (#33036254)
    I've got a large number of scratched CD's that I've downloaded replacement MP3's for. When I was younger I was stupid with CD handling and also loaned them out only to get them back with scratches. One day I may get around to converting all my CD's to MP3's but it's gonna take a long time to get them all.
  • Re:Honestly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Peach Rings ( 1782482 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @04:42PM (#33036334) Homepage

    And you didn't catch segue?

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @05:26PM (#33037020) Homepage

    If the top 10 files were fake, they were not illegal. So by far most of the popular torrents are legal?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @06:35PM (#33037632)

    Well, yes, that's the nature of the protocol. There are other distribution systems that are better at the "long tail" kind of stuff, notably Kad.

  • by Xtifr ( 1323 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:01PM (#33037836) Homepage

    We are supposed to believe the analysis of a biased entity over professional researchers?

    When the professional researchers conclude that "Music, movies and TV shows constituted the three largest categories of shared materials, and among those, zero legal files were found", we have to conclude that they didn't do a very good job, because there are at least two sites (Jamendo and Etree []) which allow nothing but legal music files, and both have tracked the exchange of many petabytes of data. (There are many more sites which limit themselves to legal material, but not to music--or TV or movies.)

    If I were to do an analysis of FTP, and then deliberately limited my study to "pirate" sites, I would come up with a hopelessly biased sample and useless numbers. It may well be that the legal torrent sites are statistically insignificant, but if they didn't study them, how can they conclude that? Assuming that they are is basically assuming your conclusion. It begs the question.

    I agree with your assessment of TorrentFreak, but a lack of credentials and credibility in a critic does not make a study legitimate.

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @07:12PM (#33037956)

    No surprise here, Theoboley

    In fact for the last few years I've questioned that glaring absess on the face of science " the study".
    ( anon cow costume on for karma protection from the guilty, misled, clueless and those incapable of unbiased view due to vocation, religion or dementia)
    Let's face it, a study is different than full blown research. Oddly enough though an article on a "study" will send the public off in dizzying new directions, convinced that physics has new rules, Bioscience has the cure for "fill in the blank", the sky is falling, the oceans are rising, red is better than blue and they all need more vitamin enriched, extra fiber, diet soda.
                Studies are done for specific reasons:
    1.Industry (who can afford research) need some actual numbers to proceed throwing research dollars around.(dipping in the toe to test the waters)

    2. Special interests (who can also afford research but will stop with a study if it gets their goal , usually PR, accomplished. Could be industry, politics, social causes or religions) When you have money you can pay for a study to get actual data or pay for a study that finds what you want it to find in order to accomplish your ends.

    3. Education (Believe it or not colleges have an interest in running some numbers for both the benefit of the institution and the students) Hey someones gotta get those zombies from the lecture into laboratories and research. Besides funding from Greenpeace, the DNC, the military,
    the Beef Council, Shell Oil and others sure are making my dept. lush. I keep bringin them in and tenure smenure, I will never have to work again.

    Now I am not here to name names, it happens, you know it, I know it, corruption happens.The very thing never taken into account when backing a politician with a vote, supporting the local police or reading a STUDY.
    I also won't say all studies are just bogus science for the purpose of giving newsclowns something to spin and extend their vocation a bit longer.
    Studies also have legitimate uses, duh, because sometimes you want to dip your toe in or just find a sample of data for use. I would bet that most studies are legitimate. It's the ones that aren't to look out for. Which ones are they? Who knows? I would bet though that a majority of them are being shoved at an unsuspecting public to educate and guide them for whatever purpose they facilitate. I guess that means that the studies you readily see all around you are probably just horseshit like the general news spun at the public for the purpose it facilitates.

    If you are truly upset and not amused by the time you read this, I would say you are probably part of the problem.

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <[ten.knil01p] [ta] [hsawgulp]> on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:27PM (#33039210) Homepage

    It's a difficult sort of study to do properly for a few reasons so unless there is strong evidence otherwise (e.g. funding from big media) I'd expect this was simply a case of incompetance.

    Reasons why it's a difficult sort of study

    1: If you actually download the files to investigate them then you are getting into legally dodgy ground. If you want to download at more than a trickle you will have to upload too which puts you in an even worse position legally.
    2: Afaict most legal torrents use their own trackers rather than public ones, so they won't show up in a search that focuses on the big puplic trackers.
    3: Afaict big media are trying to deliberately fill P2P systems including bittorrent with fake crap as part of their war on the pirates.

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dumbunny ( 75910 ) on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:37PM (#33039284)

    Probably not. They probably got paid whether the misinformation eventually gets called out or not. I'm sure they are quite happy with the mileage they got out of their "study."

  • by Gadget_Guy ( 627405 ) * on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:43PM (#33039344)

    Despite all the pro-P2P propaganda about how it "democratizes" data, it's really more a mob-rule popularity contest for grabbing the shiniest download.

    Isn't mob rule exactly what democracy is all about? If there is little interest in a download then there will be fewer people seeding it. How else did you think democracy would work?

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thinboy00 ( 1190815 ) <> on Monday July 26, 2010 @09:47PM (#33039380) Journal

    It means they supposedly couldn't figure out the copyright status of the torrents in question. TPB hosts legal and illegal stuff, so it might plausibly be hard to tell. You still need preponderance of the evidence to go after someone for copyright infringement.

  • Re:Honestly... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aunt edna ( 924333 ) on Tuesday July 27, 2010 @09:44AM (#33043902)

    Segway - 2-wheeled self-balancing electric vehicle.

    Segue - smooth transition to another topic.

    Sheesh -- exclamation of disapproving disbelief, usually low-volume.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"