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trademark a file transfer protocol which enables users to upload and download large files on the internet in the form of software, games, film, video, music, etc, from other users rather than from a central server
Word Origin
C21: from bit³ (sense 1) + torrent, the name used in this system for a file that allows the data to be downloaded
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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peer-to-peer file sharing protocol, implemented in 2001, from bit (n.2) in the computing sense + torrent.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bittorrent in Technology
A popular, distributed form of peer-to-peer file sharing that enables a client program to fetch different parts of a file (a "torrent") from different sources in parallel. The system is designed to encourage users to make downloaded data available for others to upload. This is aided by a scheme for exchanging unique identifiers, commonly stored in ".torrent" files. A downloader who does not serve data to others is called a "leech". A "seed" is a computer that has a complete copy of a file, possibly the original.
The site claims there are over 100 million users as of 2007-03-24.
Most of the data is copyright material like films or commercial software.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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