Over the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, many hundreds of file distribution systems, methods, and protocols have been developed to efficiently distribute large amounts of data from server to peer or peer to peer. Developed in the early 2000s by American computer programmer Bram Cohen, BitTorrent is one of the most widely used protocols for peer-to-peer file sharing and distribution. This entry first discusses the impact, uses, and technical aspects of BitTorrent. It then looks at the legal issues surrounding BitTorrent.

BitTorrent has had an indelible impact on the behaviors of both individual Internet users and myriad mass media industries, causing those industries to adopt a more litigious stance against piracy. Furthermore, BitTorrent has made file sharing between peers, as well as ...

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