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BitTorrent Video Store Delayed

BitTorrent , the famous peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing service, has hit delays launching its online video store -- delays that will stall the store's launch until sometime next year.

In March, BitTorrent said its store would launch by the end of 2006. But the process of signing up content owners to sell their video via a legitimate P2P network has taken longer than expected. BitTorrent spokeswoman Lily Lin says the launch will take place in "early 2007." (See BitTorrent to Open Video Store.)

BitTorrent signed a major content deal with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group this summer, but has yet to sign up the other major studios. A Warner Brothers spokesman said his company signed up after becoming convinced that BitTorrent would provide the same level of content security it requires of other broadband distribution channels like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iTunes. BitTorrent uses Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows digital rights management (DRM) software to protect video content.

The studios' content security concerns aren't too surprising since BitTorrent P2P file distribution was previously a preferred method of distributing pirated content. BitTorrent went to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) last year with a promise that it would remove copyright-protected content from its P2P search engine results.

The company's image makeover went so far that it doesn't even use the term P2P anymore. It calls its distribution method "peer-assisted."

Tom Blaisdell, a partner at DCM - Doll Capital Management , one of the companies funding BitTorrent, says the content security concerns of the studios are not slowing down licensing talks. Blaisdell says the studios are already satisfied with BitTorrent's content protection measures. At the current stage, he says, "it's more about getting the right economic deal and getting the right titles."

Blaisdell adds that the timing of BitTorrent's video debut is not as important as the size and quality of the offering. "We're not concerned that we are going to be able to launch in time for the holiday season -- that's not relevant. This is a lifestyle product; we want to launch with thousands of titles, not hundreds."

BitTorrent's Lin says her company intends to sell both low-demand video content (like TV reruns) and more mainstream content (like new Hollywood movies).

BitTorrent delivers video files using a method known as "swarming." Small pieces of the file are gathered from the PCs of users who already have the content, then quickly reassembled on the downloader's PC. Swarming is far faster than a linear download from a central server somewhere.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:34:58 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Will P2P networks ever really be free of their reputation as piracy networks? At the same time, is there a better way to distribute large files without using a content delivery network?
ozip 12/5/2012 | 3:34:57 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Hasnt the benefit of efficent file transfer been negated by broadband providers putting DPI boxes to slow use of Bit Torrent. Bit Torrent is slower than an FTP transfer with my provider. Unless Bit Torrent can finds a way to avoid being impacted by these devices, it could become a wasted innovation.

OZIP
euler 12/5/2012 | 3:34:56 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed Which explains Google's investment in their own fiber infrastructure and purchase of u2ube.
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:34:55 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed The question nicely highlights differences between technology and applications/services. P2P is a cool technology with many uses, like VoIP (Skype) and file distribution (BitTorrent and the like). That said, what made P2P technology a global phenomenon was an application: illegally sharing music and video files. Now that these applications are available legitimately and easily to consumers (think iTunes and Google), P2P is losing its sizzle. On the DPI question, it is possible for broadband SPs to rate cap only pirate P2P apps, and not those legitmately selling copyrighted content.
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:34:51 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed It may be possible to bit-rate limit only pirated info, if all other info had some sort of watermark. However, if peer-to-peer loads their networks in any undesirable manner, or if sharing info precludes users from buying it from the service provider, the bit-rate limiting will go on.
ozip 12/5/2012 | 3:34:50 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed >On the DPI question, it is possible for broadband >SPs to rate cap only pirate P2P apps, and not those >legitmately selling copyrighted content.

I dont believe that piracy is the problem broadband operators are hoping to solve with DPI. Its being used to ensure that a small percentage of subscribers dont consume the majority of the bandwidth resources impacting the experience of the majority of subscribers.

I cant think of a circumstance that would motivate service providers to spend their money to make sure others make money.

In Cable, providers can control the resources used by content services they delivery using PacketCable.

OZIP
materialgirl 12/5/2012 | 3:34:46 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "I cant think of a circumstance that would motivate service providers to spend their money to make sure others make money"

Dear ozip:
That is the dangerous precident. If service providers are vertically integrated from Layer one into content, they are financially motivated to block others from making money on "their" pipes.

If service providers supply "open carriage", they are motivated to move the bits. It is up to their paying user to leverage that pipe as they want.

As service providers move up the content food chain, you can expect the "open internet" to get choked off, as it competes with service provider content services.
desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "What else -- other than regulation -- might ensure that a certain (reasonable) amount of "best effort" Internet service remains available to those who can't afford to pay megabucks for some level of guarenteed bandwidth?"

I dunno. Probably the same altruism that allows the opportunity to buy a Mercedes S500 for those who can't afford the megabucks for one?

Ferget it, baby! There is no best-effort internet - just a bunch of "grab that cash with both hands" service providers.

Oh, and if I own stock in those providers, then I don't want them giving anything away for free.

-desi
Mark Sullivan 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed "As service providers move up the content food chain, you can expect the "open internet" to get choked off, as it competes with service provider content services."

What else -- other than regulation -- might ensure that a certain (reasonable) amount of "best effort" Internet service remains available to those who can't afford to pay megabucks for some level of guarenteed bandwidth?
Michael Harris 12/5/2012 | 3:34:45 AM
re: BitTorrent Video Store Delayed It may be possible to bit-rate limit only pirated info, if all other info had some sort of watermark. However, if peer-to-peer loads their networks in any undesirable manner, or if sharing info precludes users from buying it from the service provider, the bit-rate limiting will go on.

Correct. However, if a particular P2P app, say the new Napster or BitTorrent was distributing content legally, then a policy could be implemented to stop rate limiting those specific applications, no?

I dont believe that piracy is the problem broadband operators are hoping to solve with DPI. Its being used to ensure that a small percentage of subscribers dont consume the majority of the bandwidth resources impacting the experience of the majority of subscribers.

Correct. However, the fact that these services are "illegitimate" gives MSOs ground to stand on for rate limiting them. Video apps like YouTube are also bandwidth intensive, as is heavy use of iTunes, but you won't see MSOs rate limit legitimate services like these. That's why customers pay for broadband access.

I cant think of a circumstance that would motivate service providers to spend their money to make sure others make money.

The MSOs are not spending new money. As you say, they are paying to deploy DPI to manage excessive P2P bandwidth usage. Once implemented, MSOs or telcos can choose to implement policies with DPI that rate limit some subscribers or applications, but not others.

In Cable, providers can control the resources used by content services they delivery using PacketCable.

Yes, and no. PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) per se does not provide a means of detecting all applications in use on the cable network. DPI is useful for this. However, once detected, PCMM can be used to enforce policies. In other words, the DPI solution acts as a PCMM application manager, but not a policy server.
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