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Apple Rejects iPhone Bittorent Client

Gordon Kelly


Apple Rejects iPhone Bittorent Client

While the recent guilty verdict for The Pirate Bay has proved torrent indexing sites are not immune from the law (appeal aside) you'd have thought the bittorent clients themselves would be above scrutiny... not so.

Apple is - shock + horror - the company to take things to a new level this week having decided to turn down a bittorent app submitted for the iPhone and iPod touch because of how it might be used.

"This category of applications is often used for the purpose of infringing third party rights," Apple told Maza Digital, developers of 'Drivetrain'. "We have chosen to not publish this type of application to the App Store."

Perhaps even more unfairly, Drivetrain is just a front-end for PC and Mac client Transmission allowing users to add, pause, resume or remove bittorent downloads on their computers. Consequently what we have is an app rejected because it may be used to manage content on another computer that could potentially be illegal.

This sounds familiar, doesn't it? Oh yes, 'Remote' - Apple's own flagship app used to launch the App Store - can be used to control potentially illegal content added to iTunes...

Double standards Cupertino. This is exactly why users still continue to jailbreak their handsets. Sort it out.




May 12, 2009, 5:02 am

"Double standards Cupertino. This is exactly why users still continue to jailbreak their handsets. Sort it out."

Also why people bash the iPhone every chance they get, uh oh...


May 12, 2009, 5:21 am

I was rather expecting this sooner or later given how many people seem to be irrationally linking the bittorrent distribution method and piracy but it's still disappointing that someone actually went and did it.

No surprise that it's Apple though.


May 12, 2009, 5:21 am

like someone else mentioned on another forum -

I'm surprised Apple don't block phone calls, because bad people occasionally use the telephone too, you know!


May 12, 2009, 5:52 am

Good to see Apple are still at the cutting edge of technology and moral guardianship on our behalf. I presume they will be censoring music soon to eliminate profanity and sexual innuendo. Good job, as I am so incapable of decisive behaviour when choosing to be legal or moral on my own behalf.. <Phfffff> what next!

Now I remeber why I wont be buying any Apple products...

mike 3

May 12, 2009, 6:31 am

Dont know why anyone would expect different, 99% of my torrenting is theft


May 12, 2009, 12:42 pm

You have to love the irony of this. Do they think iPops and Itunes are only used to listen to legally purchased music and videos?


May 12, 2009, 2:44 pm

Like Apple doesn't have enough problems negotiating with the music industry without allowing torrent software onto its top end iPod.


May 12, 2009, 3:02 pm

So, has this news *actually* surprised anyone? Yes, it's irritating, but did you think Apple would approve such an app when it inevitably came out? Claim to not have a majority of illeagle torrents downloading, and nobody will believe you.

There are decent torrenting apps out there that have perfectly good web interfaces, use one of those if you really need to find out the status of your downloads on the go.

@ravmania - of course they don't, and they do nothing to stop you listening to music that has been illeagaly obtained. They *know* as we all know, that most torrenting will be of illeagle content and they want to be sure their hands are clean. Given all press that torrenting gets and the court cases that have been built around it, can you blame them?!


May 12, 2009, 3:06 pm

@chocoa - the majority of people on this planet belong to one religion or another and their various holy books claim to be the *only* source of morals for those that pay the subscription fee...

Apple aren't saying that you should never torrent, they just don't want it done on the platform that they brought into the world... Do you think Microsoft or Sony would allow a torrent client to be used on their consoles?


May 12, 2009, 4:59 pm

Why does anyone even care? It's a remote control for Transmission, which already has a web interface anyway. Who really needs a dedicated app to replace a browser window?


May 12, 2009, 5:28 pm

"Apple aren't saying that you should never torrent, they just don't want it done on the platform that they brought into the world... Do you think Microsoft or Sony would allow a torrent client to be used on their consoles?"

Yes. As soon as they manage to take over the torrent system and find a way to control it & charge us as high a price to download as we were expected to pay for the CD/DVD, then they'll all be at it. Until then they will throw every spanner in the works they can find.

Similar analogy over electric V petrol cars; as soon as the oil companies have enough fingers and toes controlling the 'greener' side of the energy market, you'll bet your bottom dollar electric cars will take off. All about greedy companies chasing the green without any intention of doing what's best for people as a whole. I suppose that's the price of capitalism. And no, I don't have a better alternative right now!


May 12, 2009, 5:32 pm

@Hugo - Presumably, Trusted Reviews cares. Gordon seemed quite wound up by it and he writes on behalf of the web site.


May 12, 2009, 5:44 pm

@ Hugo:

Because people want what they can't have just because they can't have it!



May 12, 2009, 6:02 pm

Why does anyone care?!

Torrents today...Poland tomorrow, next stop Mars! Seriously though, I would have thought it pretty obvious why this gets up people's noses.

It's one thing to be the maker of a lovely tasting, healthy snack, and a completely thing to then take the step of banning all fatty foods because 'we think there not good for you'. It's as much a cultural thing as well, the Brits don't take too kindly to dictators!


May 12, 2009, 7:06 pm

@lifethroughalens - You really are taking this to the extreme. Apple have not said, and probably never will say "You must not torrent! We will do everything within our power to stop you torrenting!" Record labels, maybe, but not Apple...

You're perfectly free to go and download a torrenting client on any Mac you wish... There are dozens, potentially hundreds available for you to use freely on your Apple computer.

As you may have read recently the founders of Pirate Bay have been put in Prison because they created a web site that makes it easier for you to find torrents of whatever you're looking for... legitimate and legal or otherwise. *Everybody* in IT is watching their arses after that. If Apple approved an App which made it easy to potentially download potentially illegal content, they could be taken straight to court, and after the Pirate Bay trial, would you want to risk that?

Seriously now; would *you* want to risk a many million dollar fine and years of imprisonment? For one measly little app that has a perfectly good web interface?


May 12, 2009, 10:55 pm

@cub...Tosh, I say! ;)

The PB duo are getting a retrial due to the judge having a 'vested interest' in the outcome of the case...although I doubt it will do them any favours in the long run. The powers that be need a scape goat and want to set a legal president so they can forward their own agenda.

That issue aside, this has nothing to do with what people might or might not do with the torrent software, and everything to do with an assumption of guilt and a quashing of freedom of choice. Which will only ever get worse if it goes unchallenged. I know that sounds dramatic!

There are so many legitimate reasons for using P2P torrents (web and app based), just as there are many legitimate reasons for owning a car, or a computer or a phone or even a gun. The fact that these items could be used for illegal or immoral purposes doesn't come into the equation. So why should Apple take such a particular interest in this software? Especially as you say, users could access it via the web browser anyway.

Banning baby shaking apps (after they already released it) is one thing...I can see a good argument for a distinct lack of taste there, but banning torrent software is a pointless exercise in control.

Whilst I couldn't care less, from a personal perspective, what Apple restrict on the iPhone, I do care about the direction big companies decide to go in, in a (externally imposed) moral direction. Especially since the bigger the company the bigger influence it can potentially exert over smaller companies and groups of people. (I know, this is getting a bit Tom Clancy!). In short - Open is good. The future. Closed is bad.

I also really object to being told what I can and can't do with an object that would, if I bought one, belong to me. Whilst I do commend Apple for vetting each and every software program submitted, to ensure it complies with certain programming criteria, I find the idea of Apple deciding what's allowed and what's not allowed through the moral filter, uncomfortable at best. But that's just me.

I'll vote with my wallet, anyhow.


May 13, 2009, 4:47 am

I would bet money on the vast majority of bitorrenting transferring copyrighted files.

And @lifethroughalens, you have the freedom of choice, buy a different phone that offers an interface to transmission.


May 13, 2009, 5:04 am

To be fair guys, if everything that 'could' be used for illegal purposes was approached from this angle we'd have bans on CD/DVD/Blu-ray recorders, no blank discs, no speed camera detectors, etc etc etc...

Guilty until proven-to-be-for-the-majority-innocent has never worked in society and while I have great respect for Apple in many areas it is being decidedly reactionary here.

For all intent and purposes there is no difference between Drivetrain and Apple's own Remote app. Both offer remote control over potentially illegal content.


May 13, 2009, 6:08 am

@Stephen: Well in that case TR should block all O2/Be/Sky unlimited users as the majority of those are likely to be downloading illegal content.

This isn't like The Pirate Bay or Napster where there's a central authority that could have taken action. Bittorrent is not a network, doesn't have any controller, it's merely a download method like FTP or HTTP. Someone downloading a particular bittorrent file has no more connection with an illegal bittorrent download than they do with the html comments page of this article.

And Bittorrent does have many legal uses - many game developers and publishers such as Egosoft and S2 games are offering it as an option to download their patches, and sites like gameupdates.org have torrent files for patches, demos and mods with no illegal content allowed. And then many Linux distros use it, Ubuntu included.

It'll be interesting to see what Apple does now if someone submits a full bittorrent client for the iPhone, As well as what Palm would do if the pre is going to have a censored repository.


May 13, 2009, 7:31 am

The astounding lengths a machead would go to defend his favourite electronics manufacturer never ceases to amazes me. Anyone of you remember "rip mix and burn"?

"think different" for sure

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