Google several years ago started blocking terms associated with sites that traffic in pirated content from its auto-complete function, and the term “BitTorrent” was among them.
But BitTorrent, responsible for the widely used peer-to-peer technology used for file-sharing, is now in Google’s good graces, and has returned to the search function.
Studios have gone after file-sharing sites for years, including those like The Pirate Bay that host BitTorrent “trackers,” and they have pressed Google to restrict search terms that can lead users to piracy sites. Just last week, NBCUniversal released a study conducted by NetNames that said that BitTorrent was the most popular peer-to-peer file distribution system worldwide, but also concluded that the infringing use of the filing sharing protocol was on the rise, with the number of users increasing 23.6% from November, 2011, to January 2013.
BitTorrent, the company, has been challenging perceptions that it is associated with piracy, arguing that it is a legitimately used ecosystem, deployed by companies like Facebook and authors like Tim Ferriss. Matt Mason, the company’s vice president of marketing, wrote in a blog post in June that it is “literally impossible to illegally download something on BitTorrent. To pirate stuff, you need more than a protocol. You need search, a pirate content site, and a content manager. We offer none of those things. If you’re using BitTorrent for piracy, you’re doing it wrong.”
In an interview, Mason said that they had not been talking to Google “directly” about restoring its name into the auto-complete function, saying that it was “not something we instigated specifically.” He said that the restoration represents a “perception shift in terms of the word ‘BitTorrent.’” The company announced a BitTorrent Bundle for artists and other content creators to publish directly to fans.
Google did not return messages for comment. The MPAA and the Recording Industry Assn. of America had no comment.
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