Tuesday, October 9, 2007

BitTorrent DNA: Hollywood Hitches a Ride with the Pirates

BitTorrent today announced their content delivery network acceleration service, BitTorrent DNA. DNA will add their peer-to-peer file sharing technology to any CDN to speed up download and streaming services for videos and files.

BitTorrent essentially works by harnessing unused network capacity on end-user computers. Anyone downloading or streaming a file also distributes the file to other users, which is broken into smaller chunks and reassembled upon delivery. BitTorrent has long used the distributed peer-to-peer approach for file sharing, and the same idea is employed by companies like Joost for streaming media.

DNA's first client is Brightcove, a CDN that powers video streaming for companies like CBS, Fox, the Discovery Channel, Buena Vista (Disney), Reuters, Warner Music Group, Sony-BMG and others. It's mildly amusing that BitTorrent, thought by many in the music and film industry to be an enabler of illegal file sharing, should now be providing a technology backbone for the legit delivery of industry content.

Image courtesy BitTorrent.

Aram Sinnreich, a media industry analyst with Radar Research, told Forbes that just a year ago dealing with BitTorrent would have been anathema for industry execs, but now they realize that the company can save them money by turning downloaders into distributors.

CNET sees BitTorrent DNA has a competitor to existing CDNs writing, "BitTorrent DNA will square off with industry leaders like Akamai Technologies." But that doesn't seem to be the company's goal. According to BitTorrent, their DNA technology compliments existing CDNs rather than replaces them.

BitTorrent has been taking strides recently to repaint themselves as a legit business. In February, they partnered with companies like Fox, Warner Brothers., MTV, and Paramount to create a download store that uses their P2P technology to deliver paid downloads. Now, with their new DNA service, they're hoping to get cozier with Hollywood and avoid the type of anti-piracy litigation that caused Napster to close down in 2002.

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