Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet Technology

Bram Cohen on BitTorrent's Future 105

Posted by Hemos
from the rumours-of-my-depature-have-been-greatly-exaggerated dept.
Last week, BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen was rumored to be leaving the company he co-founded -- just as it landed big distribution deals with Hollywood. Can the rumors be true? What's in store for online file-sharing? According to the response, Cohen is not leaving; the piece goes on to talk in more detail about some of BT's recent announcements.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bram Cohen on BitTorrent's Future

Comments Filter:
    • by spellraiser (764337) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:18AM (#17098550) Journal

      I believe you're referring to this:

      BC: We're rolling out with some content DRM'd, using Windows DRM, at the insistence of our content partners. We're very concerned about the usability problems DRM introduces, and are educating our content partners about the lost commercial opportunity.

      For your ears, the answer would be something along the lines of:

      WN: So, as it stands right now, the downloaded video content will only work on Windows software?

      BC: At the initial launch, yes, the content from the studios and networks will be protected with Windows DRM.

  • caching (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spectrokid (660550) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:16AM (#17098530) Homepage
    This dude sits on some serious cash. If he for example makes cache software which ISP's can use to cut long-distance bills while keeping net neutrality...
    • Re:caching (Score:5, Funny)

      by jrmiller84 (927224) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:38AM (#17098734) Homepage
      This dude sits on some serious cash.

      Or perhaps some.. cache?!?! Huh? huh? ZING!!

      Come on, you know you thought it too....
    • by Laurentiu (830504)

      This dude sits on some serious cash. If he for example makes cache software which ISP's can use to cut long-distance bills while keeping net neutrality...

      Oh, I know, don't tell me! No, seriously! Is it.... NEWSGROUPS? It's not that old of a concept, right, I mean it must have been around since, I don't know, day 1 or so [wikipedia.org] ...

      Seriously now, I don't think that BT can be cached in the way you seem to suggest (ISP level). Encryption aside, your assumption is that a significant part of a given ISP's clients are downloading the same thing at the same time. They don't. College dorms are not an accurate simulation of an ISP, no matter what that Physics undergrad who

    • This dude sits on some serious cash. If he for example makes cache software which ISP's can use to cut long-distance bills while keeping net neutrality...

      Too much infrastructure - bittorrent can already chose peers based on whatever criteria it wants - somebody should implement a network closeness [ibiblio.org] choker. That way each ISP's customers primarily feed each other, where traffic is cheap.
  • Zero Cost (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jlebrech (810586)
    The main advantage that Holywood would have is a pratically absent distribution cost.
    They can encrypt their movies with WMA then distribute that, people could preload their movie whilst at work then unloack the films they want to watch. And the price of the media should trickle down to the consumer. Otherwise paying £10 for a movie when i can get a hard copy on DVD is pretty useless.
    Maybe some kind of log in system would work, where you can only watch one movie at a time, and you are charged per view
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by teh_chrizzle (963897)
      no one in hollywood wants downloadable movies. you kids today with your ipods think that you do, but clearly you don't understand that there is a very large industry that we really can't jeopardize. the sooner you consumers figure that out, the sooner we can get past all of this "internet" nonsense. we here in hollywood have taken many measures to be certain that downloading is too expensive, too slow, and too inconvenient to compete with our firmly established business. if you want to watch a movie, go
    • Hidden Cost (Score:3, Informative)

      by PopeRatzo (965947)
      Yes, BitTorrent could provide a way for the media companies to distribute their products at little cost, but everytime another user learns how to use BitTorrent, you've equipped one more person to readily download movies for free, as I do. Now, I don't think that's a bad thing, because as far as I'm concerned the current entertainment industry with their outdated model of "Intellectual Property" can all collapse tomorrow and I wouldn't shed a tear. But I'm guessing that Hollywood doesn't really want to te
  • Pirate tool, eh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:21AM (#17098576)
    "WN: Do you think your plan will dispel some of the conceptions media execs have about BitTorrent -- that it's just a tool for piracy?

    BC: Those preconceptions have already been mostly overcome."

    Maybe in his little world, that's true... For the real world, no way. If you say 'bit torrent' to any teenager, they're going to think piracy. There's a few who know that some MMOs use it for updates, and that it could legally be used for data sharing... But hardly any of them USE it for that. (Or know how.)

    No, I think to really take off, he'll need to rebrand his stuff. 'Windshare, built on Bit Torrent technology' or something like that. Just calling it Bit Torrent won't fly.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We don't care what the teenagers think when they hear it, we care what the old men in Congress and the Courts think when they hear it.

    • by MikeBabcock (65886) <mtb-slashdot@mikebabcock.ca> on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:52AM (#17098910) Homepage Journal
      We honestly care what teenagers think BitTorrent is for? I know what teenagers think of lots of things and I'm not so sure I'd take my life-lessons from those thoughts either (my appologies to the under-20 slashdot crowd).

      In all seriousness though, I use BitTorrent to download things like Linux DVDs and OpenOffice installations. I've been experimenting with it as a way of managing repository updates as well. I'm sure it works well for other large files too.
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        Yes, we do. Because marketing execs care, and that's who his pitch was aimed at. Public perception of a business is huge.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by revlayle (964221)
          THEY only care because they tend to have more disposable income at their fingertips for making purchases and *generally* more disposable time to blow online - not so much how their opinion of BitTorrent influences people older than them.

          (retired people have the extra time, but they certainly do not *necessarily* have the disposable income part and not as savvy (yet) on the intardwebs as most teenagers are)
          • Your stats are common but wrong about Internet use.

            The highest number of Internet users in Canada for business use is farmers. The largest segment of the population by percentage wanting access to the Internet is seniors. Yes, teenagers use the Internet a lot, but also tend to have social lives (at least those not on Slashdot). Senior citizens more often than not are actually more connected to the world online than ever.

            I'm not sure those stats are still correct, but that is what some leading research ha
            • by revlayle (964221)
              Never said teenagers SPEND more time online, they just have more time to be able to do that. Many teens also go out and do things with their friends... shop... go to concerts... watch movies... *BUY* (sing sing) stuff at the mall... break the law... won't sat off my lawn... etc. I can see how senior citizens are more connected as the younger crowd, but because of age/health, may not (or even NOT WANT to) get out nearly as much. Also, just because they are online more, doesn't mean they catch on more quic
          • Do you have any data to back that up? The myth of "teenage disposable income" had its origins in the baby boomers, particularly the children of those who lived through the depression. I haven't seen any data that backs up that claim in ages.
            • by revlayle (964221)
              No, I don't really have any data - I'm not a research or a scientist or even a statistician - I'm just a dude make extrapolated and somewhat-educated guesses and posts on Slashdot (like almost everyone else here!!). However, most teenagers (not living on their own - and a majority of those around 18 or under are not living on their own yet) do not have to worry about bills or mortgages or rent or anything like that, so most of the money they would get is pretty disposable, yes? Is it a lot? Perhaps for so
              • I had more disposable income in the year after finishing college - and I mean for-fun, whatever-I-want, woo-hoo disposable - than in my entire life before, and I don't think I was atypical. Teenagers don't get that much money. It simply used to be the case that their parents didn't have that much, either. That's no longer true - and, fewer people are becoming parents right away.
                • by revlayle (964221)
                  I did too, however, I didn't necessarily have the time I had available before college.
        • by hkmwbz (531650)
          Uh, this was about convincing media exects to use BT:
          "Do you think your plan will dispel some of the conceptions media execs have about BitTorrent -- that it's just a tool for piracy?"
      • bittorrent is for piratelinuxporn
      • by Wolfger (96957)
        In all seriousness though, I use BitTorrent to download things like Linux DVDs and OpenOffice installations.
        Pirate! How dare you not pay for your software?
        (at least, that's how the industry feels)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sumday (888112)
      Are you kidding? The only reason the content providers are giving Bram the time of day is because of the Bittorrent name. They intend to associate the word Bittorrent with a legal source of content to shift people over to paying for their media. The problem for them is that there is this uncontrollable protocol that makes mass distribution of large files easy. They cant make the protocol itself illegal, so they have to obfuscate it's function in the mind of your average joe.

      It's essentially propaganda.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        They intend to associate the word Bittorrent with a legal source of content to shift people over to paying for their media. The problem for them is that there is this uncontrollable protocol that makes mass distribution of large files easy. They cant make the protocol itself illegal, so they have to obfuscate it's function in the mind of your average joe.

        That's a bad idea on their part then (which isn't surprising in and of itself). I mean, if the average Joe associates Bittorrent and legal, then hears s
        • by sumday (888112)
          For starters, when was the last time you saw illegal bittorrent downloads advertised? That's right, never. You have to go searching yourself. The legal BitTorrent service will probably have advertisements though, so there is no contest here.

          Secondly, look at iTunes. Music is still very easy to download for free, and lots of people do. But the ones who use iTunes or similar sevices don't care about getting it for free, because they either have lots of money and enjoy the convenience, or they want to stay
          • by redcane (604255)
            Actually nearly all the torrent sites I get content from don't advertise them as illegal. They do tend to have web banners or .nfo files etc though....
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      The same could be said of the name "Napster." When you said the word to a teenager five or six years ago, they would have immediately thought of Shawn Fanning's piracy tool. Roxio bought the Napster name and logos for their PressPlay service precisely to capitalize on the original MP3 share's popularity, and it seems to be working well for them so far.

      It's not every day you can rebrand your own legit offering with a name that every kid already knows and wears the t-shirt for, regardless of the dubious na
      • Except for one problem...Napster no longer = pirating tool. Bittorrent can (and will continue to).
    • Really isnt the market that they are worried about, nor do they make much legislative impact, so the fact that some snot nosed teenager 'thinks piracy first' really isnt much of an issue.
    • by ahoehn (301327)
      Bit Torrent = Legal File Distribution

      in the same way that

      Cocaine = An Energy Drink [drinkcocaine.com]
  • can't wait (Score:2, Informative)

    by erbbysam (964606)
    "just as it landed big distribution deals with Hollywood."
    I can't wait until I want to buy a movie drm'ed so bad that I can only watch it on my computer screen after downloading it at 5 KB/s over a week because there are only a handful of seeders and a few thousand lechers, that's how I want to get my movies delivered to me!
  • What's the upside (Score:4, Insightful)

    by emmp (1032154) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:23AM (#17098600)
    for consumers? We essentially pay to download the movie, and pay again (with bandwidth) to distribute it to other people, and on top of that it's DRM'd to hell. What have they (distributors) got to lose?
    • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:15AM (#17099198) Journal

      When I'm getting a torrent of a Linux Distribution ISO, or whatever it is I'm after, I usually leave the torrent running for quite some time after I've got the download in order to give back somewhat to everyone else. If people are buying a DRM'd movie, then there's no motivation to have the same community spirit towards everyone else. Once you start paying for something, you get a sense of entitlement that undermines community goodwill. I always liked the way that the Bit Torrent protocol worked on co-operation and sharing.
      • That sounds like a comment straight out of the piracy community. Companies are looking to reduce their overhead, not eliminate it. Just getting a relief of half of the download would save enormous bandwidth.

        Also incorporating an open-source tool such as this, you can modify how the algorithms work. An example is the BitComet client. It has been accused of cheating on the algorithm, working around queuing, and the way it uses DHT.

        This may be bad for the piracy community, but it is an example of how clie
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by h4rm0ny (722443)

          That sounds like a comment straight out of the piracy community. Companies are looking to reduce their overhead, not eliminate it. Just getting a relief of half of the download would save enormous bandwidth.

          That is correct and I was aware of it. But my point is actually how purchasing these files changes people's perception of community. There was a day-care nursery in Israel some years ago that had a few problems with parents not picking their children up on time. Someone always had to stay on a little

      • The thing is, even if you stop sharing as soon as your download is complete, you've still shared some of the file while it was downloading. So a lack of motivation to share has been trumped by the technical necessity to share at least some of the file. The fact the file is being seeded from an official server means the torrent is never going to run dry, and the fact you're paying for the download counteracts the cost of them picking up the slack from lack of benevolent seeding.
        • Yes but there are cleints that will let you throttle your upload back to almost nothing while simultaneously reporting large upload speeds to the tracker - so clients aren't necessarily going to be sharing any more than a trivial amount.
          • by redcane (604255)
            As I understand it you don't report your uploads to the tracker, you report your downloads. And Seeds share info about other peers as well, so you can't fake it unless you control enough peers. Of course you can always throttle your upload, and see how much you download, but other peers that haven't recieved anything from you, or don't hear of any other peers recieving anything from you aren't going to prioritise you.
            • I am not a torrent expert so my comment was based simply on comments I've seen around the web and the following should be taken with a grain of salt, but I looked again and found several links which imply that there is spoofing of both the trackers and of other clients.

              In the last link someone is reporting downloading 5.79GB while only uploading 51.58MB, about a 100:1 ratio. For a little twist the site owner hosting the cheat explains his own rules for earning posting credits and banning for spamming.
    • by lagfest (959022)
      If there wasn't any upside, don't you think customers would go elsewhere? The total cost may be less, or your download speed significantly improved, compared to similar services with the same DRM hell.
  • Then (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jlebrech (810586)
    We can then fire up the same bit torrent clients that the industry have used to corrupt packets of our illegal shares.
  • Oh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by voice_of_all_reason (926702) on Monday December 04, 2006 @10:32AM (#17098672)
    BC: We're rolling out with some content DRM'd, using Windows DRM

    Somehow, I don't think you thought your cunning plan all the way through.
  • A; buy M$ Vista B; download/upload DRM restricted material. C; castrate myself with a blunt rusty spoon heated over a bunzenbrander. In that order... Distributing non-DRM material however, is something I'm willing to sacrifice some of my bandwith for. I refuse to touch ANY DRM file that has ANY conotation with M$ Honestly, would you trust M$ with your rights to anything at all, I don't...
  • Sorry, didn't read TFA, but will Bram Cohen be taking time off of the Bit Torrent project to write another Dracula sequel?
  • riddle me this? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Connie_Lingus (317691) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:01AM (#17099022) Homepage
    Why in the world would I use *my* upload bandwidth to help the bloated Hollywood junkies make $$$, AND PAY THEM FOR IT ON TOP OF IT?? Do they really think that...

    1. I am going to download and seed files that I have to pay to view. (ok...maybe)

    2. On top of that, I will then use my expensive connection to allow others to download from me so Hollywood can get a no cost distribution network. (uhhh..no way)

    Perhaps if they allowed me free access to the movie if my share rate went over 200% or something, then I would consider it. But they have to be smoking some seriously dumb stuff if they think I am going to pay them for the right to waste my bandwidth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hackstraw (262471) *
      Why in the world would I use *my* upload bandwidth to help the bloated Hollywood junkies make $$$, AND PAY THEM FOR IT ON TOP OF IT?? Do they really think that...

      The same reason people do it today.

      Faster download speeds and lower cost.

      However, I would imagine that the hollywood junkies cannot compete with the cost of zero.

    • by shish (588640)
      [If I'm doing distribution with my own bandwidth, why should I pay for the film?]
      Because hollywood has more costs than just distribution? Even if the distribution is zero cost, somebody still has to pay for the film to be produced in the first place, and that is what your money will go towards.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SlashDread (38969)
      Thats the future thou, granted, for me to buy into it, it would have two things: cheap, and drm free.
      Then I have no issues sharing bandwith up, thats free anyway, the "cheap and drm-free" are more likely to be -my- showstoppers...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Illserve (56215)
      Why in the world would I use *my* upload bandwidth to help the bloated Hollywood junkies make $$$, AND PAY THEM FOR IT ON TOP OF IT?? Do they really think that...

      The average user won't know or care about seeding or upstream bandwidth. As long as the program is set up properly to avoid hammering the connection unnecessarily, it will work just fine, despite your screaming rants to the contrary.
    • by Skythe (921438)
      Yet current users have no obligation to do this - and the system works just fine. You could argue that the 'innate invisible feeling to give back' would disappear once consumers have to pay for content, but im willing to bet a large proportion of initial seeds out there are just kids that leave their bit torrent on overnight to download and kids who want to 'get their share ratio' up.

      I think your idea of benefits such as free access for having a higher share rate is a great one to say the least, especial
  • Bram Cohen (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Slashcrap (869349)
    I would just like to take the opportunity to state for posterity my sworn belief that Bram Cohen will never do anything else of note no matter how long he lives.

    He will join the legions of people that came up with one brilliant invention and then spent the rest of their lives trying to come up with something to match it and failing in the most spectacular way.

    See Clive Sinclair.

    I don't have any evidence at all. I just have a very strong feeling about this.
    • Re:Bram Cohen (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Colz Grigor (126123) on Monday December 04, 2006 @11:52AM (#17099708) Homepage
      So what?!

      Many inventors have had one big invention, early on, that they were never able to top. The one we all know: Alexander Graham Bell. And then there's Eli Whitney, George Eastman, Henry Ford, Igor Sikorsky, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Steve Wozniak, Elias Howe... and this list is hardly all-inclusive.

      Bram Cohen create an ingenious and highly beneficial technology. He may not be a Thomas Edison, but how many people can you name who had multiple disparate inventions? And does the fact that most inventors don't become household names make the inventions or the inventors any less of a person?

      Give the guy credit for what he's done and maybe some encouragement to do more, but don't call these people failures. They've done more than most people ever will...

      ::Colz Grigor

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Hubbell (850646)
        Alexander Graham Bell did *not* invent the telephone, he was the most publicized creator of it though. It was originally invented in Europe and somehow Bell invented his a short time later and got to take all the credit.
        Same goes for Edison and the light bulb, originally done in Europe, but because he was American (most likely reason I can think of for both, the same goes for a slew of other American 'firsts', including the Wright brothers), he got to take all the credit in the history books.
    • by Zandax (1035426)
      Nope, I think you'll find that Sir Clive Sinclair has never produced any brilliant inventions, just a sad procession of second-hand notions expertly marketed.
  • It is possible this will work but I am skeptical thinking it is possible MPAA and certain large companies may try to embrace and extend the bittorrent system to make it "easier" for the end user to give them a lot of money. It could work though if prices are lower to the customer that seeds or provides significant bandwidth, and in particular if DVD libraries are cached at the ISP in such a way that non-movie traffic is not wiped out.

    If done well this could usher in a way for payments to be made for ISP pac
  • Roger & Me (Score:2, Interesting)

    How would this newer sort of BT experience jibe with those of us who access BT resources against the wishes of our ISPs?

    I, for example, am obliged to use Rogers Hi-Speed for my broadband connectivity. In my village in rural Canada I have no other alternative. And, currently, it's a bloody arms race between Rogers and I to keep my BT transfer happening.

    I'm randomly switching ports, encrypting traffic, muttering voodoo incantations -- I shudder to think what can of a dance I'll have to do in six months
  • I don't understand all they hype about using BitTorrent as a distribution method for commercial content. BitTorrent is a great protocol for distributing pirated material because no one person has to foot the bandwidth bill. If I pay for something, however, why should I have to further pay with my bandwidth?
    • It's like this. Suppose there is a company A, selling downloadable movies hosted on their own servers, at price $A, and company B, selling movies distributed over bt, at price $B. Suppose it costs you $C dollars of bandwidth to use company B's offering. Now, presumably company B will be able to offer its product at a lower price due to the negligible bandwidth bills; and if $A-$B > $C, then it's clearly beneficial to go with B even if you use up your own bandwidth. Clear?
  • By using windows media drm they ignore huge (in terms of paying for media) apple userbase.
    quicktime supports drm for ages and so extensible that even windows formats are supported via components.
    There is also real networks which already supports everything down to phones.
    I wonder who they dealt with? MPAA or MSFT?

1 Dog Pound = 16 oz. of Alpo

Working...