May 8, 2006 9:40 PM PDT

BitTorrent inks studio distribution deal

BitTorrent, the creator of the file-sharing software that for some has become synonymous with piracy, has struck a landmark distribution deal with a Hollywood studio.

Warner Bros. Entertainment Group has agreed to use BitTorrent's peer-to-peer system to distribute movies and television shows, including "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Babylon 5," beginning this summer, the companies are expected to announce Tuesday.

Warner Bros. is the first major entertainment company to embrace BitTorrent's distribution system, which has been widely used to illegally swap copies of copyright movies.

The agreement is also believed to be the first Hollywood distribution deal for any of the file-sharing technology companies, which include eDonkey or Kazaa. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In the past, San Francisco-based BitTorrent was falsely perceived to be the video equivalent of Napster, said Ashwin Navin, the company's president. BitTorrent never maintained a network to help people exchange copyright material and has gone to lengths to separate the company from law breakers, he said.

A clean record helped win credibility with studio chiefs, but the company has sold itself in Hollywood mostly on the strength of its technology, Navin said. Pricing for the content has not been announced, but Navin said TV shows might sell for as little as $1.

"There is a fascination with BitTorrent on a technical level," Navin said. That fascination helped him convince studio executives that "BitTorrent is useful as a distribution technology."

Developed in 2001, BitTorrent's open-source distribution system was designed to help transfer large files over the Internet.

BitTorrent allows a single file to be broken into small fragments that are distributed among computers. People then share pieces of the content with one other.

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BitTorrent, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Hollywood, file-sharing, P2P

16 comments

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Awesome
Ah, this was inevitable! Does anyone know of other features already being legally distributed via bittorrent? The ones I've found so far are at www.cactusesmovie.com and www.starwreck.com. These are free, too, which I doubt Warner Bros' will be. How will they keep their torrented movies and shows private for paying customers?
Posted by PCPDigital (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
lolz
i doubt they will, theyll probably end up with a system not unlike direct2drives system with a key theyll email you....thats at least too hard to crack for the average user, and personally im a huge warez guy but stuff i get on direct2drive (games that i believe are worth supporting for continued industry innovation ie: i pirate ****** games and buy good games as a kind of self protest to make better games)if some random hguy asks me for the info on dling it i give him the finger if a close friend does i think about it and then i reason about how the founder of napster(cant remember his name, napsters dead so hes been deleted from my brains cache =p) got his idea on how hed share cassettes with his friends and how that in his view was not illegal, and he had the smart(if rash and unadvertadly, made the pirating community what it is today...be that under fire(lol. as if the riaa is doing **** but scaring average joe(IT's Nightmare type people) users.) or growing bigger every day. and ya ive veered off topic but the main topic as to how is summed up in a 3 letter acronym: DRM, what depends if its successful or not, is simply how intrusive it is.
Posted by Nocturnex (163 comments )
Link Flag
it's just the distribution mechanism
BT won't be the entire business model for WB. it's simply the distribution technology for getting the digital file onto your hard drive. WB will have to wrap DRM, billing, etc. around the BT distribution mechanism.

similar to the "new Napster" you'll just be downloading files that have DRM, and you'll have to keep refreshing your licenses for that content as long as you want to continue using it. the new Windows Media Player is pretty good at doing this unintrusively.

i run a tiny little Canadian indie record label (www.swarmtheory.com) and we've been using bittorrent to distribute legal music downloads for about 2 years. keeps our bandwidth costs down.
Posted by herbhunter (5 comments )
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Re: Awesome
In the UK, there's the BBC Integrated Media Player, which passed Beta in Feb and will be out later this year. They're using BitTorrent based distribution with WMP10 DRM to prevent piracy. This will come part-n-parcel of BBC License Fee, so in effect, its a paid-for torrent service.
Posted by djcaseley (85 comments )
Link Flag
doesn't add up
i don't get why anyone would pay for a torrent. the whole idea of the BT model is that you give back to the community in the form of seeding. if i'm already paying for a file, what is the motivation to share my bandwidth?
Posted by Dibbs (158 comments )
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you missed the point
as for piracy, one of the benefits of "giving back" to the community is to keep the illegal files available. agreed.

we all know that more seeds = faster download time (this was true for the former p2p apps too), so even if you're paying for a download you'll receive it faster if more people are seeding.

besides, only a couple of seeds are required. the rest of the file can be distributed and downloaded from peers who have partial files too.

the most important thing is that by leveraging BT technology to distribute large files, the content providers can keep their bandwidth costs to a minimum and therefore keep prices reasonable.

i hope they choose to do so for the good of the industry, rather than sucking all of that extra margin back into their coffers.
Posted by herbhunter (5 comments )
Link Flag
finally people are getting it
it took a long time, but some smart industry folks are finally starting to understand that file sharing is not the enemy. it's actually a great tool if you can integrate it into your distribution channels. nice to see a leader like WB finally using BitTorrent technology the way it was always intended to be used.
Posted by herbhunter (5 comments )
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Does this mean....
Does this mean that my cable company is going to stp "throttling" bit torrent traffic? I seriously doubt it! Thus making this a non-story and a stupid investment for WB!Boneheads....
Posted by cidman2001 (223 comments )
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Only for a handfull
It's a non-story for you and users of your ISP, but for the majority of us that don't have an ISP that "throttles" bittorrent, this is great news.

- rb
Posted by rmjb (28 comments )
Link Flag
File sharing is the only way!
Video file is huge and requires lots of bandwidth especially for DVD picture quality or better. Let consumers do the heavy lifting i.e. store and distribute video is the only way to go so that any movie will be available at anytime anywhere! Peervision.com may have the right platform for DRM.
Posted by vincentso (5 comments )
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