Maybe You Saw The Signs

Maybe you saw the signs.

The Internet should be regulated.

The internet should be regulated

Photo via Animal New York.

Artists need to play by the rules.

Artists need to play by the rules

And your data should belong to the NSA.

Your Data Belongs to the NSA

Image originally by Ludovic R of Privacy Canada.

These statements represent an assault on freedom. They also, for the most part, represent attitudes Internet culture has accepted. Chips we’ve traded for convenience. Part of the allegiance we’ve sworn to the web’s big platforms and server farms. That’s what you get for going online.

We put these billboards up last week in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Because we wanted to remind the world what’s at stake on the world wide web.

As a society, we’ve chosen to accept data centralization: personal information as property of a powerful few. We’ve chosen to accept walled gardens of creativity: a lifetime of work (our life’s work) locked into digital stores that take 30% of the revenue and streaming services that pay pennies in royalties. We’ve chosen to accept surveillance culture: the right of security agencies to violate the Fourth Amendment; to see and store data as they see fit.

But these things are just that. They’re choices.

And these choices belong to us.

This is the generation that will decide whether the Internet is a tool for control, or a platform for innovation and freedom. We have an incredible opportunity. We can shape the next one and one hundred years of human connection. A free, open Internet is a force for change, creativity; the backbone of a society where citizens are stakeholders, not data sets.

BitTorrent is built to preserve that Internet.

We’re a company founded on a few simple core values. Uphold user privacy, and user control. Keep the web free, open; decentralized, and accessible to all.

BitTorrent is a people-powered protocol: the architecture of code deployment for the Internet’s dominant applications.


BitTorrent is a decentralized, artist-owned publishing platform: a zero-cost alternative for media distribution.


And BitTorrent is a secure, distributed response to the challenge of data surveillance: a way to sync and store information, free from the cloud.


In other words, BitTorrent is not what you think. But it’s how the the Internet should think: people-powered and people-owned, in principle and practice.

Your data belongs to you. You deserve options. And the Internet is above all else powered by people. Certain freedoms are hardcoded. It is up to us — it is up to all of us — to uphold them.

Matt Mason
Written by: Matt Mason

Matt Mason currently serves as Chief Content Officer at BitTorrent, Inc. He is also the bestselling author of The Pirate’s Dilemma, the first book in the history of the world to hit the number one spot on Amazon’s economics/free enterprise bestseller list and the rap bestseller list at the same time. He has written and produced TV series, screenplays, comic strips, apps and records, not to mention award-winning, global advertising campaigns. His journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer Music Monthly, Dazed & Confused, Adweek, VICE, and other publications in more than 20 countries.

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21 Responses to “Maybe You Saw The Signs”

  1. Timendo

    Are these honest billboards, or do you think they might just be sarcasm to get a point across?
    I can’t see people actually believing this…

  2. David R. Allen

    Great work. (who can read my comments?)
    I like the principles, but the big guys seem so powerful they could just tell us how to be.
    (I hate that!)
    What can we do next? (Does PGP really work?)
    Who is watching this post? (Can they find out I think differently?)
    Just a sec, there is a knock on my door. (Hello, who is it?)

    • Matt Mason

      David there is a lot we can do next. The Internet we build now is up to all of us. We’re working on a few ideas of our own over at

      • David R. Allen

        I am about to go live as we are having FIbre Optic Cable installed in the next few weeks, and thanks to your note I noticed you have an HD Broadcast feature. I am very intrigued and my show is all about Digital Currency.

        I think I want to play.

    • Matt Mason

      Moeburn it would be meaningless if we weren’t building and delivering real products built against this vision. You can see some of the stuff we are currently cooking up over in labs.

  3. Fascist Nation

    Bravo, Bittorrent!!!! But there is always hell to pay for embarrassing the masters. Here is hoping you inspire other tech and Internet companies to follow suit. And remember when the billboard companies cancel their contract under pressure from the federal government . . . well that is a story too (ya made them look).

  4. Mr. Knight

    Interesting perspective,

    I would like to comment further, but I do not currently have the liberty to do so. Ultimately, the people must decide for themselves what kind of future they want.

    • Matt Mason

      Hey Tom,

      Absolutely – we developed the campaign in-house. One thing many people don’t know about BitTorrent is we have an incredible creative team. I’ve was in the advertising business for many moons before joining BitTorrent and the in-house agency we built here in the last two years is by far and away the most talented and driven group of creatives and technologists I have ever worked with.

      Full credits:

      Creative Director:
      Takashi Kusui

      Dan Brown

      Art Director:
      Jeff Kyung

      Director of Production:
      Joe Croson

      Director of Brand Marketing:
      Straith Schreder

      Director of Communications:
      Christian Averill

      Creativity Online has more on the thinking behind the campaign itself:

  5. Jeff Kesselman

    Nice commercial, but some pretty questionable claims.

    “BitTorrent is a decentralized, artist-owned publishing platform: a zero-cost alternative for media distribution.”

    Exactly how does an artist control the distribution of their product over bit torrent and how do they realize a return on their investment of time, energy and creativity creating that product?

    This is a bit like saying a booster coat is a new way to do retail, isn’t it?

    • Matt Mason

      Jeff – I appreciate the point you are trying to make, but I don’t think claim this is questionable at all when you look at what BitTorrent Inc is building. We’ve been developing this platform since May (and exeprimenting with artists for two years before that researching the project). Since May 2013 we’ve worked with artists including Public Enemy, Madonna, Linkin Park, Moby, Pretty Lights, Pixies, Corey Taylor and many other on this new distribution format we are calling the BitTorrent Bundle. If you click the link you commented on – you’ll find more info on BitTorrent Bundles:

      We are developing this product to give artists full control of their work, and get paid directly, in a way that is distributed and goes with the grain of the Internet.

      What we find questionable is the misuse of the term BitTorrent to mean piracy, which is the point you are making here. We don’t endorse piracy, encourage it, host illegal content or point our users to it. We can’t control what happens on piracy sites. But Bundles can give artist control of their work and be distributed across the web. It’s early days, but if you check out the product, you’ll see what we are trying to do. Feedback is welcome – thanks for taking an interest.


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