January 5, 2005 4:00 AM PST
A new hope for BitTorrent?
Dubbed Exeem, the software has already been distributed in a closed beta, or early test format, by the creators of the SuprNova.org Web site, which was until late last month the most popular hub for the BitTorrent file-swapping community.
Last week, the head of that now-defunct site, a man known as "Sloncek," officially announced the Exeem project in an interview on the NovaStream Webcasting network. He said that it would be a modified version of the popular BitTorrent technology, but transformed into a decentralized, searchable network similar to Kazaa or eDonkey.
As P2P sites are under legal attack, much of the file-swapping community is looking to Exeem, a new application that developers promise will merge the strengths of BitTorrent and Kazaa.
Official confirmation of Exeem raises the potential of mass migration for the millions of people around the world who have grown accustomed to using BitTorrent to download movies, TV shows, music and software.
Reports from some beta testers are now beginning to come in, as the private testing nears its end.
"The system seems to work pretty well," said Simon Bauman, who operates the Mitosis.com Web site and has tried the software for several weeks. "It seems faster than other peer-to-peer programs right now, but with only 5,000 people, it's hard to really gauge it."
Official confirmation of the Exeem program, released at a time when BitTorrent Web sites are under aggressive legal attack from Hollywood, raises the potential of mass migration for the millions of people around the world who have grown accustomed to using the technology to download movies, TV shows, music and software.
The shifting loyalties are now a familiar phenomenon in the peer-to-peer world, as lawsuits from the record industry or Hollywood studios have repeatedly driven users away from other once-popular networks such as Napster, Scour and Audiogalaxy. In each case, new services have eagerly risen to take their place, despite legal risks.
Among modern file-swapping services, BitTorrent has been uniquely vulnerable to legal attacks by copyright owners, because it has required that links to files be posted on Web sites. The Motion Picture Association of America launched an international legal assault on the most popular of those Web sites last month, helping to take some of the biggest ones offline.
SuprNova was one of the sites that vanished not long after the MPAA announcement, along with Youceff.com and several others. Another, dubbed LokiTorrent.com, remains operating despite having been sued by the MPAA in Texas, and has already raised close to $34,000 in donations to a legal defense fund.
Exeem is aimed at eliminating these easily targeted central points. Like other file-swapping applications, a decentralized service would be made up only of individual users, none of whom control the network.
"Basically it is a P2P program with the same specifications as BitTorrent had, but with its own network and its own files on it," Sloncek said in last week's interview, now reposted at the
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