Are Torrents Dead?

Some people think so.  From Wired:

But peer-to-peer file sharing is falling out of favor quickly, according a new report from Arbor Networks, a network-management firm used by more than 70 percent of the world’s top ISPs. Falling out of favor so fast that the report declares that P2P is dead to ISPs.

In fact, according to its sensors, peer-to-peer traffic still accounts for about 18 percent of all traffic. (That’s by looking at packets — by protocol, P2P fell to less than one percent of traffic, but file sharing applications mask themselves in order to evade technical blocks.)

But compare that to 2007, when peer-to-peer peaked as high as 40 percent of net traffic, according to Labovitz.

Based on anecdotal evidence, this seems pretty true.  The amount of media that I pirate has fallen sharply in the last year or two, and is now practically nonexistent.  (I’ve noticed a similar decline with a lot of my friends.)

The problem that torrents had, I think, was that they never lost their sheen of seediness.  Most of the people who picked their way through the porn ads and pirated software did so with their virtual nose pinched firmly shut, as it were, and when more respectable alternatives arose they flocked to them.  And Netflix has done something particularly important, I think: they’ve persuaded people to pay for streaming video.  In effect, they’ve provided a business model for how even ephemeral media could be profitable.  So I wouldn’t be surprised if the pirating age is drawing quickly to a close.