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12/30/2004

Bram Cohen - Bit Torrent

There is a really interesting interview with Bit Torrent inventor Bram Cohen up at Wired Magazine.

The theory was that there would be a convergent revolution with television, newspapers, magazines, music and movies all using the net to drive their own business models. It turns out that newspapers in their present form are deadmen walking, music has been transformed by file sharing and MP3 players, magazines are simply waiting for the axe of real "electric paper" before they go all net all the time; but television?? The movies??

"All hell's about to break loose," says Brad Burnham, a venture capitalist with Union Square Ventures in Manhattan, which studies the impact of new technology on traditional media. BitTorrent does not require the wires or airwaves that the cable and network giants have spent billions constructing and buying. And it pounds the final nail into the coffin of must-see, appointment television. BitTorrent transforms the Internet into the world's largest TiVo.
wired
The article goes on to suggest that the television and movie industries have about ten years to deal with the reality of Bit Torrent...Yeah, right. The reality is that geeks and sub 30's are already adopting Bit Torrent as a relatively virus free P2P tool for their file sharing needs. The bandwidth barriers are coming down...fast. Storage is not an issue with 80 gig drives for less than $100.00.

Legally, sharing movies - as opposed to music - is outright illegal in Canada and the United States; but one advantage of Bit Torrent is that with the exception of the person who originally rips and uploads the file, no other person will be sharing the whole file or even a very significant part of it. This is the content distribution industry's worst nightmare. Fully distributed sharing. With the Kaaza/IMesh music sharing there was at least a chance that the music industry policemen could spot people with large numbers of songs which they were sharing, more or less, one by one. This is really impossible with Bit Torrent and similar software.

Time for a DMCIA rethink I think...and, yo, Parliament guys, do yourselves a huge favour and work on ways of making creators money rather than implementing the technologically outmoded WTO intellectual property protocols. And do it in the real world...