Score one for highbrow tastes: If you’ve ever downloaded a popular movie, TV show or music album from a site like Pirate Bay, there’s a strong chance your IP address is sitting on a database somewhere. But anyone who’s used Torrent sites to obtain some obscure French art-house from the 1970s is likely flying under the radar.
That’s according to a report published today by a team of computer scientists based out of the University of Birmingham, England. The project, the first of its kind, took three years to complete, and offers a tremendous amount of new information about the extent to which various organizations are monitoring file sharing via BitTorrent.
BitTorrent websites allow people to download files from many users at one time. Sites such as the Pirate Bay don’t host copyrighted content—instead, they host “torrent” files, which are links to media files stored on other users’ computers in other parts of the world. BitTorrent is the latest generation of the peer-to-peer file sharing that began in 1999 with Napster.
To determine the extent to which such sharing is monitored, the scientists actually created and operated their own “monitoring client” to gather data about newly published torrent files from the Top 100 in each category on The Pirate Bay.