BitTorrent Inc continues to develop peer-to-peer file sharing / BitTorrent Inc

Thom Yorke has announced he is releasing his next solo album via BitTorrent - but what is it?

BitTorrent downloading is the quick and unlimited sharing of large files between internet users – it is also, by name, a software company that facilitates this.

It uses a small amount of internet bandwidth and works in a similar vein to old school peer-to-peer sharing services such as Napster and Kazaa.

BitTorrent is faster because the file is broken up into small segments and downloaded from multiple people also hosting these pieces.

The company BitTorrent is trying to encourage the legal use of the technology to get music published, such as with musician Thom Yorke who today announced he is releasing his second solo album, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, via BitTorrent for £3.68.

A joint statement with Producer Nigel Godrich said the innovative move could help artists bypass “self-elected gate-keepers”.

“As an experiment we are using a new version of BitTorrent to distribute a new Thom Yorke record,” the pair said.

“The new Torrent files have a pay gate to access a bundle of files. The files can be anything, but in this case is an ‘album’.

“It’s an experiment to see if the mechanics of the system are something that the general public can get its head around.

“If it works well it could be an effective way of handing some control of internet commerce back to people who are creating the work.”

BitTorrent is also used by legitimate companies, for example Facebook, which uses the protocol to distribute updates to their servers.

Is BitTorrent illegal? No. However, the technology – like any programmes – can be used illegally. It’s the same as how a browser such as Chrome or Firefox isn’t illegal but can be used to do illegal things.

The speed of a download is affected by the degree of traffic on a server and the type of protocol – a seeder, for example, is a person with the whole file, so a torrent with the largest number of seeders could help boost download speed.

Torrents can also be downloaded via various BitTorrent hosting sites – called indexes – such as the controversial Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents.