Unless you live in Canada, where the supreme court ruled that people cannot be sued for downloading songs and movies, you're violating the law if you download copyrighted material, regardless of the methods. BitTorrent enthusiasts don't argue that point as much as they argue that BitTorrent has plenty of perfectly legal uses distributing public domain material and works created using common copywrite. And then, with its vagabond ways, BitTorrent makes it less likely for you to be nabbed with an illicit copy of the Transformers movie rolling onto your hard drive. BitTorrent transfers tend to be hit-and-run violations, making it harder to determine who's involved than it was in the Napster heyday when servers operated 24-7 with hard drives that brimmed over with goodies for the downloading. With the introduction of trackerless trackers, it becomes even harder to catch someone in the act. Not that it's impossible. The entertainment industry has successfully sued to close down BitTorrent sites that specialized in maintaining databases of other sites where songs and movies could be bittorn. At least one person, in Hong Kong, has been jailed. So the question is, are you feeling lucky? Well, are you?

What do you think this word means?

1 Answer 1


I've never seen this before, but it's pretty obviously a witty coinage which marries

  • bit, a piece of digital information, with echo of its use in BitTorrent, to

  • the verb tear in its past participle form torn as both

  • a phonic echo of Torrent and

  • a synonym of rip, referring to that verb's use in two related senses:

    • to copy a digital file from one medium to another, as in ripping a DVD, and
    • to rip off = to steal something or rob something's owner (which is probably the source of the previous meaning)

Sites where songs and movies may be bittorn are sites where digital files may be stolen by downloading.

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