Traffic in the popular file-sharing network BitTorrent has fallen in the wake of a crackdown on piracy, but file sharers have merely shifted to another network, eDonkey, new data released Aug. 29 show


LONDON (Reuters) -- Traffic in the popular file-sharing network BitTorrent has fallen in the wake of a crackdown on piracy, but file sharers have merely shifted to another network, eDonkey, new data released Aug. 29 showed.

Popular movies like "Star Wars: Episode III -- Revenge of the Sith" have surfaced on BitTorrent before they even appeared in theatres.

A study by the Cambridge-based Internet analysis firm CacheLogic found that eDonkey is now roughly on par with BitTorrent in the United States, China, Japan and Britain.

It is the dominant peer-to-peer file-sharing network in South Korea, which has the world's highest percentage of high-speed Internet use, and also in Italy, Spain and Germany.

"This is almost assuredly a result of the increased legal action toward the once-ignored BitTorrent -- a game of P2P hide-and-seek," said CacheLogic's chief technology officer Andrew Parker.

Last year, BitTorrent was consuming up to a third of the Internet's total bandwidth as users traded huge movie and television files. The entertainment industry struck back with a slew of lawsuits to shut down Web sites that provided "tracker" links, which tell the network where to look for files.

The United States has also seen a surprising return to popularity of the Gnutella file-sharing network, which had faded after an earlier crackdown by music companies.

"Gnutella was once seen as dead so may be off the radar" of the music and movie industries, Parker said. "It's proof that legal pressure from industry groups results in the mass migration of file sharers to an alternative network, whether old or new. This cat and mouse game will continue."

About 60% of the Internet's total bandwidth consists of P2P traffic, according to the CacheLogic study. P2P, which sends data from user to user, is often difficult to shut down because networks don't rely on a centralized server to distribute data.

In a precedent-setting ruling earlier this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against P2P firms Grokster and StreamCast, saying that because the companies' intent was to encourage copyright infringement, it could be held liable for the movies and music traded on its network.

But any hopes from Hollywood that the Grokster ruling would result in less P2P traffic have not been fulfilled, according to CacheLogic.

"The Grokster case did not result in a rapid decline in P2P usage," Parker said.