LegalTorrents relaunches

April 2, 2008 | 08:55

Tags: #creative-commons #freeware #legal #torrents

Companies: #bittorrent #open-source

If you've been reading all the recent news stories about every ISP and trade body in the known universe piling on P2P as though it were the spawn of Satan and you've been asking yourself “just what possible legitimate use for BitTorrent is there anyway?”, then LegalTorrents may have the answer for you. Sort of, anyway.

The site originally hit the scene way back in 2003 to much general apathy, but has just re-launched itself with a cleaned-out cache of completely legitimate torrents. The only files available via the site are those that have been licensed for distribution – mostly under some variant of the Creative Commons license.

The rebuild of the site is currently in beta, but already it looks like pretty much every BitTorrent search engine out there. The exception is in the content: you'll find no episodes of Lost on here, just the South-African open source advocacy show Go_Open; no Prince or Timbaland either, but a copy of the Creative Commons CD released by Wired Magazine.

The content is pretty sparse at the moment at just 44 files, including a whopping three PC games, nine songs, and nine films. Equally, things you would expect to find redistributed by a legal BitTorrent site such as Linux distributions and binary builds of popular freeware are notably absent, but the site makes it clear that it's looking to host Creative Commons materials rather than end up yet another software mirror.

An interesting feature is the ability to pledge donations to a particular torrent: the idea is, if you like a file you can send the original creator and license holder some dosh. It's a good idea, although the site does skim fifteen percent of your donations for running costs.

The major drawback with the beta build of the site isn't the downloading of the files – the .torrent files work perfectly, and considering the small number of seeds some of the packages have the speeds are great – but in finding them. It would appear that the team forgot the search aspect of a BitTorrent search engine when building the site. This isn't so much of a problem with just forty-some files to choose from, but the site is going to get unmanageable pretty darn quickly unless the team add the feature in sharpish.

The beta version of the site allows files to be downloaded without membership, but if you want to create your own torrents of freely licensed material you'll have to sign up.

Do you applaud with LegalTorrents is trying to do, or is it just another download mirror in a world overflowing with ways to snag open-source goodies? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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