Fortune profiles Bram Cohen:
Since the birth of the Net, programmers had been stumped by how to transfer massive filesmovies, TV shows, games, software, whateverwithout incurring astronomical bills or risking frequent failure. Cohen knew he could find a solution; all it would take was time, good code, and brute intellect. He had all three. The money would take care of itself. I didnt have any clear plans when I first started, he says. I wasnt worried, partially because what I was doing was really cool, and partially because Im broken and cant feel anxiety.
What he came up with was BitTorrent, a deceptively simple program that has grown into the hottest way to download anything bigger than a music filefrom the legal (like militaryvideos.nets amateur videos of the war in Iraq) to the infringing. It makes pirating a copy of the latest movie out of Hollywood a snap. All it takes is a free download of the BitTorrent softwaresomething 45 million people have doneand anywhere from a few minutes to a few days.