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BitTorrent hits big time with Warner P2P deal

by Bob Crabtree on 10 May 2006, 00:56

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BitTorrent looks to have hit the big time with Warner Bros Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG) signing up to use the company's file-sharing technology to provide US residents with legal downloads of movies and TV programmes.

The deal is said to follow BitTorrent's agreement with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) that it will strive to "prevent film piracy and promote innovation in online digital distribution of content" - a major turn around given that BitTorrent has been widely used for the swapping of all sorts of ripped off video, audio and software.

According to WBHEG president Kevin Tsujihara, "BitTorrent has made the leap in creating a legal partnership that respects the value of the intellectual property. This has provided us with a next-generation platform for the distribution of our films and TV programs." Confirming what huge numbers of BitTorrent users already know, Mr Tsujihara also said, "The technology behind BitTorrent is elegantly designed for the delivery of large files like TV programs and films." 

Warner content published with BitTorrent will be accessed from the BitTorrent.com website. A service is scheduled to launch in summer and initially carry over 200 Warner Bros offerings -  new releases, "catalog favorites" and TV series. Listed titles include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, Dukes of Hazzard, North Country, Rumor Has It, The Matrix, Dog Day Afternoon, Natural Born Killers, and National Lampoon's Vegas Vacation. On the TV side, Babylon 5 and Dukes of Hazzard are among the promised programmes.

The aim, though, isn't just to use the net as another way to squeeze revenue for movies or TV programmes that have passed their in-store sell-by dates. WBHEG says it plans to release new offerings at exactly the same time as they come out on DVD.

No news yet on when Warner will be offering a BitTorrent service for the UK but the company does already run something comparable in Germany  - the In2Movies service. This is a joint venture with Bertelsmann AG and uses a peer-to-peer solution from its subsidiary Arvato.

Gagging for legally-downloadable Warner content? Disappointed that BitTorrent has taken the Warner shilling? Let us know over in the HEXUS.community.

HEXUS Forums :: 4 Comments

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Thank the good lord!

This a huge step towards preserving P2P and Bittorrent. Warner Brothers is setting a great precedent, and I think all companies complaining about piracy need to embrace these methods of distribution. True, perhaps the prices will differ very slightly, but the fact that they're even venturing into this market is great news.
But now we get new implementations of BitTorrent which are infested with DRM.
But now we get new implementations of BitTorrent which are infested with DRM.

thanks god it's open source - isn't it? =)

There are several factors at play here, really.

1. This does not legitimise Bittorrent as a medium; only as a single implementation of the medium- the studios, RIAA, etc will still happily sue (or at least attempt to) sites like the Pirate Bay, etc.

2. This is actually just about cost reducing for Warner, as far as I can see; they get users to provide upstream bandwidth for free, and charge the same regardless of how much they use. This is only a press release, but it will be interesting to see if they attempt to implement a reward scheme for user who provide a lot of bandwidth. I doubt it however; this is probably just a means of saving bandwidth costs and simultaneouly getting some good ‘geek karma’.

3. Bittorrent is still too hard to set up for mass use. Everyone here has the knowledge and skills to understand upload capping, port forwarding and sharing ratios, but this knowledge requirement will preclude it from being a true mass market solution.

I see schemes like this (and the Sky download and Beeb iMP players too, to a certain extent) as schemes for companies to do the bare minimum to get some revenue from IPTV. Instead of doing an Apple job of it, and providing a vertically integrated solution, they nick upload speed from end users. I know it's all egalitarian, etcetera, but they're generally not reducing prices to go with this requirement.