Way back in 2003, the rapper known as Chuck D got up in front of the U.S. Congress and told them exactly what "P2P" meant to him.
"P2P to me means power to the people," said the member of political rap superstars Public Enemy. The sentiment that peer-to-peer file-sharing can be good for musicians is still being debated, but at the time it was borderline revolutionary. Chuck D continued to say that he trusted "the consumer" far more than those "at the helm of these [record] companies."
Ten years and a consistent streak of publicly supporting file-sharing later, Chuck D and Public Enemy have put their money where their mouths are with a new Public Enemy BitTorrent Bundle (download) on Wednesday. The Bundle is a new tweak to existing torrent technology from BitTorrent that introduces the Holy Grail of missing torrent features: a torrent paywall.
Gary "G-Wiz" Rinaldo, Chuck D's manager and longtime producer who has worked with Public Enemy, Aerosmith, Run-DMC and other musicians, said that using BitTorrent technology was preferable to hosting the files on Public Enemy's Web site because it's the best way to ensure that fans can download the large file sizes.
"Couple that with the options available in the Bundle and it makes complete sense," he said.
Co-founded by torrent protocol creator Bram Cohen in 2004, BitTorrent Inc.'s Bundle concept for combining a paywall with the file-sharing protocol works by opening a Web site in your default browser when you run the torrent. The site can then request personal information before allowing you to download the rest of the torrent content.
In the current test cases of the Bundle, that's been restricted to simply an e-mail address. There's no reason that couldn't be expanded to require payment details, BitTorrent's Christian Averill told CNET when the BitTorrent Bundle was unveiled last month.
The new Public Enemy Bundle features a chance to show the band your mixing chops and offers fans a remixing contest. The Bundle includes the new single "Get Up Stand Up," featuring Brother Ali. If you chip in your e-mail address to unlock the Bundle, you'll get the song's music video, outtakes, and 37 multitracks. Mix your own version of the song, submit it to Public Enemy using BitTorrent SoShare, and if the group likes it, they'll release it for you as the grand prize winner.
The contest will give winners a range of recording equipment and Public Enemy swag, with complete prize details and information available here.
BitTorrent's previous Bundle, which offered a deeper preview look at the Colin Firth and Emily Blunt movie "Arthur Newman," was described as a success by the film's studio.
"Rather than fearing technology -- a recurring mistake for our industry over the years -- Cinedigm's vision is to embrace the new opportunities offered by partnerships between Silicon Valley and Hollywood," said Cinedigm's marketing head, Jill Calcaterra.
As of Wednesday, June 19, the Arthur Newman Bundle was downloaded 2.7 million times, 39 percent more than the film's YouTube trailer was watched over a longer period of time. Forty-three percent of the film's Web site traffic came from the Bundle, according to BitTorrent and Cinedigm.
In the age of streaming music services scrambling for their slice of the music business, an option to download files may seem counterintuitive. Not so, says Rinaldo.
"Streaming is great but we believe in retaining files too," he said. "As more and more fans are herded into accessing media but never retaining it, it is important in many cases for fans to have access to the files they have gotten the right to download."
Editor's note: Using P2P and file-sharing software to distribute copyrighted material without authorization is illegal in the United States and many other countries. CBS Interactive does not encourage or condone the illegal duplication or distribution of copyrighted content.