Research: Who’s uploading to p2p networks?

A study done by the Carlos III University of Madrid (UC3M) identifies and characterises users who upload content on the main P2P piracy networks and defines their incentives for doing so.

The research study examines the behaviour of the users who are responsible for publishing over 55,000 files on the two main portals (Mininova and The Pirate Bay) of BitTorrent, the most popular P2P sites.

Users who upload on BitTorrent dedicate a large part of their own resources (bandwidth, storage capacity) and assume the risks involved in publishing contents that are protected by copyright laws. So, is this altruistic behaviour or is there some type of economic incentive at work? “The success of BitTorrent is due to the fact that a few users make a large amount of content available in exchange for receiving economic benefit”, explain the authors of a study. Their analysis demonstrates that a small group of users of these applications (around one hundred) is responsible for 66 per cent of the content that is published.

The study identifies who these users are and what their incentives. Basically, there are two different profiles. In one group there are the so-called “fake publishers”, organisations fighting illegal downloading and malicious users who publish a large quantity of false. The other group includes a small number of users (known as “top publishers”) who massively publish contents on BitTorrent and make a profit off of this activity, basically from on-line advertising and, to a lesser degree, from VIP subscriptions held by users who wish to speed up the downloading of the contents. “If these users lose interest in this activity or are eliminated from the system, BitTorrent’s traffic will be drastically reduced”, the authors of the study predict.

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