BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer file sharing protocol original designed by Bram Cohen in April 2001. Those who share files using BitTorrent can choose one of many clients and seed the file which is distributed in small parts. Any user with a BitTorrent client can locate a torrent file and choose to download the file. As they finish downloading parts they in turn share those parts with others in a distributed fashion.
BitTorrent receives a great deal of negative press as it is commonly associated with the illegal uploading and downloading of copyrighted material. This has resulted in Internet Service Providers using traffic shaping to slow down BitTorrent traffic.
While there is a great deal of illicit BitTorrent use, BitTorrent is also a preferred method for legitimately distributing large files. Development communities like Fedora, studios like Paramount and Fox as well as publishers like Electronic Arts use the BitTorrent protocol. The distributed nature of the protocol eases network load of the main seeder and opens the door to more robust file sharing/distribution.