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Spotify’s little-known history in Torrents

Torrents are (and have been for over a decade now) the predominant mode of file sharing for pirates. Users host files for download by others (seeding) and other users download tiny fractions of the same file from as many seeds as can be reached (leaching). The torrent program used then collates those tiny fractions back in to the whole.

There is nothing inherently illegal about torrent services themselves: if the seeding user were a legitimate one with the right to distribute the file, and the leaching user were paying (and that payment is properly apportioned to the rights holders) then there would be no issue. In practice, it is pirated music, video games, films and software that are exchanged over torrents.

One of the most successful early torrent services, uTorrent, was started by Ludvig Strigeus in September 2006. Its success was based on cutting out much of the malware and bloatware that was plaguing the burgeoning sector, and being user-friendly and minimalist.

uTorrent has since ended up in the hands of Bit Torrent Inc. and is one of the most successful torrent services of all time.

What is less known, however, is that in 2007 uTorrent was bought by Spotify (before its public launch), before being sold on to Bit Torrent Inc shortly afterwards. At the time it was thought that Spotify wanted the technology behind uTorrent, but actually (as has been explained by former Spotify CEO Andreas Ehn) the real target was Strigeus.

Strigeus remains at Spotify today, and with the floatation on the New York Stock Exchange expected in the near future, is in line to receive over $100m for his share of the company.

Spotify have always been regarded as one of the leading lights in the fight against music piracy, turning millions of users on to legitimate methods of consumption. It’s history of dealing with torrents is inconsequential to that fight in the eyes of many, but is interesting to note nonetheless. Without the large injection of capital from the sale of uTorrent to Bit Torrent Inc., would Spotify be where it is today?

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.


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