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Tuesday, 27 February 2007

BitTorrent Goes Legit!

BitTorrent is restyling its business to sell downloads of movies and TV shows licensed from studios. This development is a bit of a surprise because BitTorrent was the bane of Hollywood, making it a regular event for people to share video based media easily over broadband Internet.

BitTorrent is betting that one third of current downloaders (users of its BitTorrent protocol) will be willing to pay for legitimate content rather than to take the gamble with possible law enforcement. And that's the point, that BitTorrent is not similar to Napster in that one respect: BitTorrent is a protocol, a means of communication between computers of a network, without a centralised server, whereas Napster had a centralised server. (Link: No, It's Not The New Napster, via

On the other hand, Hollywood executives will need more than a little reassurance to rest easy. Their biggest hope for daunting the would-be pirates of the newly available content (as low as USD$1.99 per episode!) would be digital rights management safeguards created by Microsoft Corp. search Google suggesting that Windows Media Player will play a prominent role in this interesting development. The next biggest hope would probably be digital watermarking search Google to track the original user and the movement of the digital file. It would probably be a bit like how scientists track penguins.

On the other hand, the press statement by Les Ottolenghi is that Hollywood's executives hope that "someone at home passes it on to someone at home, from one device to the next, and that becomes a value to the consumer" -- but somehow, that statement just does not seem to follow. Why is digital watermarking and digital rights management required if all that executives hope for is that the same user will continue to use the downloaded content?

Apparently not everybody is convinced to "go legit". Says one character:

"The sad thing is, it’s not about the money. I’m not interested in renting a movie. I want to own it. I want total portability. I want to give a copy to my brother. Digital convergence is supposed to make things like this easier, but D.R.M. is making them harder."
[source: New York Times]

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