If you've ever downloaded something via BitTorrent, odds are you've used (or seen) an app called Vuze. It's one of the internet's most prolific BitTorrent clients, and it's used for downloading countless terabytes of copyright-protected material every day. The developers of Vuze have hit back at the online piracy epidemic, condemning copyright theft and promoting legal torrents.
Vuze took to its blog last week in an attempt to make out that most of the users of the software were law-abiding downloaders, and that only a select few were nicking content.
"While there are good and law abiding torrent users, there are a few bad apples scattered among the worldwide masses of torrent users," wrote a so-called "guest contributor on the Vuze blog.
What followed was a list of Vuze's attempts to promote legal content that could be downloaded via the BitTorrent client software:
Vuze has never, and will never, support illegal torrent downloads or activity associated with the sharing of torrent files that are connected to copyright infringement in any way, shape or form.
Although torrents themselves are a legitimate way to share files, understanding the rights of copyright holders and what content they have or have not authorized for free distribution is the core to understanding the difference between it being legal or illegal to share or distribute content using Vuze.
Remember, if you use Vuze torrent client software for P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing then use it responsibly. Be aware of illegal torrents and avoid downloading them. Don’t infringe copyright.
Clearly, someone has been whispering in the ear of Vuze, which has forced the company to clarify its position on piracy. Taking a look back at the company's attitudes to piracy in the past, however, shows that the project's contributors have never been on the side of illegally downloading content (at least not publicly anyway).
Tyler Pitchford, creator of Azureus which later became Vuze in its new life under the open source GNU Public License, said in an interview way back in 2005 that he never intended the software to be used for piracy.
When asked about the BitTorrent protocol and its future, he replied:
The protocol itself has nothing innately illegal to it nor does the reason the first clients were created for, distribution of Linux. While more modern applications of the clients appears to have been for piracy several companies still use BitTorrent for distribution of their files. For example, I know several game companies release their demos through BitTorrent, The Scene and The Scene also release their “IPTV” shows over BitTorrent.
Publicly at least, Vuze and its founders have never been interested in people stealing content via their software.
In the latest attempt to keep Vuze users on the straight and narrow, the developers have promised to increase the amount of posts pointing users to legal torrents on its various social networks:
Moving forward Vuze will be taking a more active role on its blog and social profiles. Subscribers, fans and followers will see a noticeable increase in the quantity of posts connected to topics such as gaming, music, film, books, politics, human rights and more.
We believe in sharing news, updates, and content in our posts that is relevant to our users, and by sharing content that doesn’t infringe copyright. By delivering legal content updates and legal torrent files torrent users are better able to discover even more legitimate content that is free under Creative Commons licenses or otherwise and free with the consent and approval of the artists, content creators, and rights holders or in the Public Domain. This effort will help diminish the amount of hunting and sifting that a user might normally take when scavenging through questionable files.
Although Vuze may be increasing its communication about legal torrent files and other topics, it’s imperative that you not mistake any of this as suggestion that you share or download files that infringe on copyright. This is not the focus or intention of Vuze, or its discourse.
All in all, Vuze is looking to reposition itself not as the torrenter's client of choice, but instead as a neutral platform.
"Other than supporting and respecting the rights of creators, artists, and rights holders, as well as consumers and citizens, under the laws as they exist (and that isn’t to say that certain laws should not be modified, or that the interpretation or application of those laws is always fair or just, or do not have unintended consequences), and being against copyright infringement and other misuses of P2P technology, Vuze just provides a neutral technology and does not take a position endorsing or supporting any particular viewpoints. Nevertheless, we are also against censorship and are in favor of legal free speech (not all speech is legal)," it wrote.