November 30, 2005 11:14 AM PST

VCR-like box boasts P2P content at push of button

A Dutch company is offering a new Linux-based home media player designed to give Internet users easy access to content from a variety of peer-to-peer networks, including BitTorrent and eDonkey.

Called the LamaBox, the VCR-size player is "fully integrated with the Internet, including connection to the big peer-to-peer networks," according to the LamaBox Web site. This, the site says, lets users "choose from an impressive collection of audio and video. The latest movies and television shows, playable on your television at the press of a button."

The device also enables users to burn downloads to DVD.

The fact that the LamaBox is designed to access networks where copyrighted material is routinely shared raises legal issues. But a LamaBox representative denied any wrongdoing and said the device only makes such material accessible, much in the same way Internet providers facilitate access to potentially illegal material.

"The sole responsibility lies with the provider and user of content," said LamaBox.

But if a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision gives any indication of the direction international law will take, the LamaBox could find itself unplugged. This summer, the court ruled that companies that build businesses with the active intent of encouraging copyright infringement should be held liable for their customers' illegal actions.

Currently the LamaBox is set to access BitTorrent, eDonkey, FastTrack (the network used by Kazaa), Gnutella and Overnet. Users can also listen to Internet radio stations and view online video streams.

LamaBox said it has seen a lot of interest from abroad and recently translated its Web site into English.

Because the device is based on Linux, open-source software governed by the GNU Public License, users are allowed to modify the device as they see fit. LamaBox currently delivers several hand-built models: The cheapest one has 40GB of storage and costs 279 euros ($328). A 400GB LamaBox with DVD burner is also available and costs 479 euros ($564).

The LamaBox can hold as much as 1.5 terabytes of information when all three hard drive slots are in use, according to the company. The Linux Advanced Media Application media center uses a modestly powered VIA processor, chosen to minimize heat generation and the subsequent need for noisy fans.

Lars Pasveer of ZDNet Netherlands reported from The Hague.

See more CNET content tagged:
Dutch company, eDonkey, P2P, BitTorrent, VCR

3 comments

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Is this box just a leech?
Or does it share (like it should)?
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
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A Tivo?
It almost sounds like a tivo, but for p2p networks. Just tag what you want to watch or listen to and when it's downloaded, it plays it on your tv and when you're done you can burn it off to a dvd.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
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WOW!
(Yes this box uploads as well - though you can turn it off) Google for more info.

This device is the future. It needs some more features (a tuner being the first step) to complete it's function, but the idea is sound. Content IS moving to the internet, so this becomes a TIVO for internet media. With a tuner it's a TIVO for all sources.
Of course the content companies will fight to kill this right up to the moment they realize devices like this have been helping their bottom line for the past 3 years. (They're a bit slow to realize/admit the benefits of technology, but extremely fast to cry wolf about how new technology will kill them!)
Then again, this device doesn't do anything a computer won't do, it just simplifies it for the masses, so the legal issues really shouldn't be that big. Shouldn't, but will in my prediction.
Posted by skeptik (590 comments )
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