Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Trouble with Tribler

Yesterday a fascinating concept was proposed by the founders of Tribler, a P2P site based in the Netherlands. They propose to turn bandwidth use into a form of currency for their participants. Since the network doesn't have centralised servers, it depends on each member to not just suck up bandwidth by downloading, but to contribute to the system by allowing uploads as well.

Under the new system, Tribler subscribers would "spend" credits when they downloaded, and "earn" credits when they uploaded, rewarding good netizen behavior. Dutch TV is taking a hard look at Tribler's proposal, believing it to be the way to distribute television over the Internet without overburdening the system.

Now here's the problem. It's a peer-to-peer network. To Hollywood and American television studios, P2P -- especially BitTorrent -- is the Great Satan. P2P equals file sharing equals lost revenue.

Never mind that the equation is flawed -- look for objections and obstructions to start flying fast and furiously. And don't be surprised if our government isn't called in to act. It was the MPAA, after all, behind America's strong arming of Sweden to raid Pirate Bay's servers. The raid was contrary to Swedish law, took many legitimate businesses offline, cost millions in lost revenues from said businesses, and did absolutely nothing to stop Pirate Bay. But it did damage the relationship between Sweden and America.

EFF's proposal (that I discussed last time) makes even more sense now. If we had an Internet licensing fund that proportionally paid content providers for download traffic, studios would be embracing Tribler (and other P2P sites) rather than trying to quash them. The more a program circulated, the larger the royalty payment -- and the end users get to do what they're going to do anyway.

The trouble with Tribler? Rationally speaking, none. But since when have rational decisions been made in Hollywood?

- Ralph

No comments:

Post a Comment