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BitTorrent Pairs with Warner
May 9, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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"BitTorrent.com soon to be a destination for downloading Batman, Ocean's 11, and Smallville…" BitTorrent, Inc. president Ashwin Navin exclaims on his web log. The caveat "Legally!" is cleverly inserted; less people think there's a more sinister use to the BitTorrent protocol.

This more sinister use to BitTorrent has been the evil little cousin everyone likes to pretend doesn't exist; yet always manages to ruin the family BBQ. Over time though, BitTorrent, Inc. has distanced itself from readily available unauthorized material. This fact was annunciated in November 2005 when Bram Cohen and the MPAA announced an anti-piracy partnership and established the framework for online movie distribution.

Further efforts to distance the BitTorrent protocol from piracy accumulated throughout early 2006. BitTorrent, Inc. announced a deal with British broadband provider NTL, where high quality material would be available over the ISP’s 100 MB NextGen network. Although the effort is still experimental in nature, it should provide a unique insight into the viability of managing BitTorrent traffic via CacheLogic’s caching technology. If successful, it will alleviate a substantial number of bandwidth concerns many ISPs face today.

BitTorrent, Inc. also shored up an agreement with director Steven Soderbergh at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City early this month. Considerably more progressive when it comes to online film distribution, Soderbergh agreed to release several non-DRM encumbered high definition shorts on BitTorrent.com.

But Soderbergh and NTL can only take BitTorrent so far. Adding credibility to BitTorrent, Inc.’s plight for legitimacy, Warner Brothers has signed on to distribute several films and TV shows via BitTorrent.com. Slated for summer 2006, older movies such as "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride," "Dukes of Hazzard," and "North Country," will be available.

Noticeably scant on the TV distribution menu however; relics such as "Babylon 5" and "Dukes of Hazzard” are also scheduled for online distribution.

The burning question on everyone’s mind eventually boils down to DRM, or Digital Rights Management. The unsurprising answer is yes, the releases will be DRM protected WMA files.

“With the initial rollout, consumers will be able to download programming to their PCs and make a permanent copy of the content with three back-up copies protected by Windows Media DRM,” BitTorrent, Inc. communications direction Lily Lin told Slyck.com. “It's important to note that in some scenarios, including what we're working on with Steven Soderbergh, BitTorrent will offer video with unlimited burning options, without DRM. We believe that's the ideal approach but major studios are going to take one step at a time.”

The DVD quality movies and TV shows have not yet been priced. This decision will be revealed closer to the summer release date.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
BitTorrent :: BitTorrent Inc.
Authorized P2P :: Other
Entertainment Industry :: Other

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