BitTorrent cleans up its act
BitTorrent, the company behind the software widely used to share pirated music and video over the web, plans to start helping media companies stream videos over the internet.
The company has unveiled the service six years after its chief executive, Bram Cohen, created the BitTorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing technology.
While BitTorrent has been notorious as a tool for piracy, Cohen said he spent three years working to find ways to commercialise the technology.
In February, the privately held company opened an online video store to sell videos licensed from Hollywood studios. Now it is offering that distribution technology, dubbed BitTorrent DNA, to other companies.
Brightcove will be BitTorrent DNA’s first customer, and will use it to distribute streaming video programmes over the internet.
Brightcove currently distributes shows for companies including CBS Corp, News Corp’s Fox Entertainment Group, Viacom Inc’s MTV Networks and the New York Times.
The two companies did not say which shows Brightcove will distribute over BitTorrent, which also allows files to be shared. As one user downloads a file, or watches a streaming video, BitTorrent DNA software sends data to another computer seeking the same files.
“It uses your computer in a way that’s very polite. When you’re downloading something you’re also uploading something,” says BitTorrent President Ashwin Navin. “Users are aware of that when they read the user agreement when they download the BitTorrent (software) client.”
In addition to streaming video, BitTorrent DNA can also distribute video and software downloads. Navin said BitTorrent DNA can boost the efficiency of video-streaming networks that use services provided by Akamai and Limelight Networks, which help speed the delivery of web content.
Most companies spend more than 20 cents an hour to stream video over the internet, which means they lose money because they cannot pull in more than 20 cents an hour in advertising revenue, Navin adds. He claims BitTorrent DNA will help customers reduce that cost.