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BitTorrent to crack down on use of name

File-swapping company will begin to charge small license fee for use of BitTorrent trademark in others' software.

The creators of the BitTorrent file-swapping application will soon begin cracking down on how other software developers use the BitTorrent name, company President Ashwin Navin said Monday.

BitTorrent's creator, Bram Cohen, has long allowed other people or companies to use his work freely under an open-source software license. Over the past several years, that has led to an explosion of software programs that claim they are compatible with BitTorrent downloads.

However, now that Cohen has created a company aimed at using BitTorrent to distribute movies and other media legally, that unregulated software world is looking more worrisome. The company will soon start enforcing a trademark policy that ensures people using the BitTorrent name are producing safe software, Navin said.

"We're sensitive to people calling their software BitTorrent to achieve a certain level of popularity in order to distribute spyware and adware," Navin said.

BitTorrent's speedy downloading features has made it one of the most popular tools online for distributing large files such as movies or software, both legally and illegally.

The company is trying to turn its own Web site into a hub for distributing movies legally, and has been in close discussions with Hollywood studios for months.

On Monday, Norwegian Web browser maker Opera Software said that it would work with BitTorrent to add support for the file-swapping tool directly into its own software. That deal will be the first under the new trademark licensing program, Navin said.

People who want rights to use the BitTorrent trademark to market or brand their own products will have to pay a "nominal" fee to the company, which will review the software to ensure it is in compliance with a set of security standards.

The program is aimed at keeping BitTorrent software secure, and is not expected to be a substantial profit center, Navin said.