BitTorrent and Madonna join forces for free speech

BitTorrent is making its biggest move yet in its quest to become a legitimate source of legal content: partnering with Madonna.

The queen of pop is using BitTorrent to distribute her new film, secretprojectrevolution, for free beginning Sept. 24. Madonna co-directed the 17-minute movie with photographer Steven Klein in an effort to raise awareness about human rights—specifically, free speech.

The film launches Madonna’s online Art for Freedom project, a call for crowdsourced videos, songs, poems, and photos that protest oppression and persecution—hashtagged #artforfreedom, obviously. VICE Media will be curating the project.

Democratic distribution

Madonna fans can download the secretprojectrevolution Bundle on BitTorrent beginning Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. EST. The Bundle includes film trailers and stills, but if you go a step further and submit your e-mail or make a donation, you unlock the HD and 2K versions of the film, a VICE interview with Madonna, and a message from the star.

BitTorrent’s Bundles aren’t solely for celebrities, though the company has collaborated with Public Enemy, the Pixies, and Linkin Park on Bundles this year. BitTorrent on Tuesday also launched BitTorrent Bundles for Publishers, an alpha program that lets artists, musicians, writers, and other content creators distribute bundles of any size and file type using the BitTorrent client.

BitTorrent seems like a natural fit for Madonna’s project with its emphasis on the open and democratic nature of technology. The company has been criticized for being a little too liberal in its content distribution policies—peer-to-peer file-sharing is often used to download pirated content, but BitTorrent has strived this year to establish itself as a legitimate publishing platform with high-profile music, film, and book partnerships.

BitTorrent wants to prove that its 170 million users will pay for quality content. Bundles could be the gateway for artists to publish, distribute, and perhaps even make some money by sharing tantalizing previews of their work—and yes, some free content—with fans.

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