Optical/IP Networks

P2P Used for Evil

5:35 PM -- I gotta give it up to the always topical folks at Marvel Comics, who used peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing client BitTorrent in one of their recent comics.

In Fantastic Four Issue #549, one supervillain, the Wizard, fires up his P2P client to download music files used to clone another supervillain, the Klaw. Which just confirms what we all suspected: that BitTorrent is pure evil.

This is sort of sweet revenge for the Fantastic Four. After all, lord knows how much money the comic maker must have lost to nerds downloading the crappy Silver Surfer movie, as opposed to shelling out $12 to see 90 minutes of overblown special effects.

And while I can't blame Marvel for taking a shot at BitTorrent the technology, I wonder what BitTorrent the company thinks about Marvel painting it as a tool of evil, especially after it has gone to such great lengths to go legit.

I put out emails to both Marvel and BitTorrent, to see what they had to say about the comic. So far only Marvel has gotten back to me, but the response is pretty entertaining:

LR: Can Marvel comment on what types of files might have been used in the cloning of Klaw? Country? Hip-hop? R&B?

Marvel: Ironically, Klaw was encoded into bootlegged copies of SPIDER-MAN 3 from Italy and the new FANTASTIC FOUR cartoon from France.

LR: Were the files Wizard used illegally downloaded? What sites were used to find those files?

Marvel: Given that the Wizard was the one doing the downloading, even if those files were obtainable legally, it's unlikely that he would have paid for them.

LR: Was this use of BitTorrent meant to be commentary on the use of P2P filesharing applications used to distribute films about Marvel characters (e.g., Spider-Man or the Fantastic Four)?

Marvel: There is a Meta-facet to the bit, sure, but mostly it's about the prevalence of the technology and its widespread use -- and the fact that, as a being composed entirely of solidified sound, Klaw could potentially be duplicated or recreated using such an application. It's the classic Marvel thing of taking the world around us and turning it into fantasy.

LR: BitTorrent has made a push to legally distribute music lately. Did Marvel contact BitTorrent beforehand to get an OK in using the product for essentially evil purposes, or have the companies had any discussions since?

Marvel: I don't know that I can comment on what business discussions may or may not have taken place, either before or since. Sorry!

— Ryan Lawler, P2P Proselytizer, Light Reading

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