Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 6th 2013 Contents A35
Tuesday, August 6, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Patrick Hosein, the administrator
for the .tt domain, was approached
a couple of months ago to become
part of the global stream of tor-
According to Dr Hosein, Maik
Schultz applied to him for the
domain ka.tt, which the domain
administrator soon discovered would
host popular torrent aggregator Kick-
On realising this, he drew Schultz s
attention to the policies of the
the site was removed.
Most recently, the torrenting site
used the ka.tt domain to redirect to
a new nation domain originating in
Tonga. Patrick Hosein has since
deactivated the domain, pending
further discussions Mr Schultz.
"They were asked to remove the
association with KT," explained Dr
Hosein, "since that site points to
sources of copyrighted material."
So what s a torrent and why is it
causing all this fuss?
The BitTorrent protocol for sharing
files on the Internet was created by
developer Bram Cohen and released
to the world in 2001.
It s a powerful way to share files
that takes advantage of the distrib-
uted nature of computing power on
the web. It also avoids the central-
isation of files that eventually killed
To create a torrent, one person
seeds the file from their computer,
offering it through a BitTorrent
client. Users connect to the file using
a tiny text link that describes where
the file is. Such users can be peers
who also share the file, or leechers
who only download the file without
In an Internet of sharing, seeders
are valuable but peers are the real
lubricant of torrents. For that reason,
many torrent clients are designed to
act as peers unless users specifically
turn off the function.
When torrents work well, peers
abound and files are transmitted
very quickly. Popularity counts for
a lot on torrent sites. That s why
grabbing a new single by say, One
Direction, takes a matter of seconds
but an obscure album by Miles Davis
can take days, if not months to
Torrenting requires three things
to work well.
Someone, preferably several peo-
ple, to seed exactly the same file, all
described by one, endlessly dupli-
cated online text link and many peers
willing to upload the file while they
Then there needs to be a website
to host the text links that describe
the files that are available for down-
load. That s what Kickass Torrents
These torrent sites, the most
famous of which is The Pirate Bay,
claim that they host no copyrighted
materials, but their listings abound
with thousands links to television
shows, movies, music, pornography
and books, none of which will earn
their creators a cent in income.
Torrents ferry hundreds of thou-
sands of terabytes of content
between computers every hour and
most of this data is illegally obtained
entertainment in digital format, but
is this all that torrents are good for?
Several independent film makers
have used torrent seeds of their work
as a distribution model. Jamin and
Kiowa Winans, who were hitting a
stone wall with their quirky film Ink
in traditional distribution channels,
found a whole new audience on tor-
rent networks (http://ow.ly/nyDvO).
Linux distributions are also made
available using the protocol.
When the Trinidad and Tobago
Computer Society (TTCS) began
producing a CD and later a DVD of
free and open source software
(http://ow.ly/nyDPw) they began
exploring torrents as a way to share
a digital disk image of the collec-
The ISO (named after the file
extension of the disk image format)
was seeded first on TTCS founder
Devanand Teelucksingh s home
"It posed some challenges doing
it myself," Teelucksingh said.
"Because of the size of the OSS-
WIN file and being the main seeder,
seeding the file from home would
consume my upload bandwidth
when I first tried around 2006."
There were also too few peers
serving the file so the torrenting (or
tormenting, as Teelucksingh s auto-
correct helpfully inserted) didn t
The TTCS has since tried several
ways of sharing the file using tor-
rents, most of which cost money
that the nonprofit doesn t have.
"I never got the feeling that tor-
renting just worked and I could
ignore it," Teelucksingh admitted, "I
felt I had to babysit it and watch it
all the time, looking back."
The hefty disk image is now host-
ed by a German software site,
Chip.de (http://ow.ly/nyEaV) and
via file sharing service GE.TT.
Like most digital techonologies,
torrenting as a way of moving data
between computers is as innocent
as FTP or HTTP, protocols that
underpin the success of the Internet.
But torrenting has become inex-
tricably linked with digital piracy
and the consequences of that are a
digital underground of shared files
and constantly moving websites list-
ing torrent descriptors and a stifling
of the official development a per-
fectly useful way to distribute large
files between computer systems
As Patrick Hosein said of his expe-
rience with Kickass Torrents, "The
.ph registry (Phillipines domain) had
to seize kat.ph because of legal action
taken against them by the music
industry. I did not believe that .tt
should get involved in similar
For comprehensive news cov-
erage of torrents visit http://tor-
A torrent of piracy MORE INFO
Even if you've never
downloaded a single torrent,
chances are that you've viewed
one. The cycle of movie torrents
coincides almost exactly with local
releases of pirated films through
local video outlets.
A CAM torrent describes the
shaky first release of a new film,
captured on a home video camera.
Next comes a TS or telescine
release, an enterprising pirate's
mix of the best video and the best
audio available as torrents.
Next comes a DVDrip, which is
usually an early DVD released for
Oscar consideration with the usual
useless anti-piracy warnings and
then a BrRip, a "clean" file taken
from either a DVD or BluRay
recording of the film.
Finally, the largest torrents
appear, full 1080p BluRay rips and
DVD ISO images of actual disc
Most local video houses have
their own descriptions of these
quality shifts that are less techy
than the online descriptors.
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