November 26, 2007
Volume XX, Issue 1
Cuban's P2P Advice to ISPs Rebuffed
Excerpted from Ars Technica Report by Ryan Paul
In an open letter to Internet service providers (ISPs) published earlier this week, billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban called for telecoms to put an end to peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. His letter primarily attacked companies that use P2P for legitimate commercial applications:
"If I was a Comcast customer, I would tell them, as I am now telling all the services I am a customer of: BLOCK P2P TRAFFIC, PLEASE. As a consumer, I want my Internet experience to be as fast as possible. The last thing I want slowing my Internet service down are P2P freeloaders."
Cuban continued, "That's right, P2P content distributors are nothing more than freeloaders. The only persons/organizations that benefit from P2P usage are those that are trying to distribute content and want to distribute it on someone else's bandwidth dime. When consumers provide their bandwidth to assist commercial applications, they are subsidizing those commercial applications - which should be against an ISP's terms of service."
This argument comes from the man who funded Grokster's legal defense back in the day and invested approximately $1.7 million in P2P company Red Swoosh. Cuban has been focused on the problems of bandwidth to the home for some time, however, telling Ars in 2006 that he is in favor of a tiered Internet.
Strangely, Cuban posted an update on his open letter, encouraging P2P users to use Google Video instead. "I wanted to offer the best alternative to P2P for audio-and-video... Google Video. If you are trying to do distribution of audio or video, why in the world would you use P2P when Google Video will host and distribute it very efficiently and for free?"
Of course, there are many legitimate uses for P2P that Google Video can't replace, like distributing Linux ISOs. Furthermore, the notion that the only people who benefit from P2P technology are the distributors is wrong.
If I have the option of grabbing a download from a distant single server or from a torrent with hundreds of users, I'm going to opt for the torrent.
Why? It's almost guaranteed to be faster, and let's face it: most BitTorrent software is quite adept at managing large downloads. Perhaps I want to throttle it while playing a game; perhaps I want to encrypt my transfers. If I'm distributing video or audio, perhaps I don't wish to be bound by the terms of Google Video.
Maybe Mr. Cuban knows something about network architecture that eludes my mental grasp, for I fail to see how using Google Video instead of P2P will make anybody's Internet connection any faster. If users who are currently saturating their connections with BitTorrent start saturating their connections with Google Video content, the end result is more or less the same.
And this raises the question: what, exactly, is wrong with users saturating their connections? They are, after all, paying for that connectivity, and most ISPs are keen to market their higher-cost, higher-speed services. Dictating how bandwidth can be used will not make bandwidth any faster or cheaper, nor will attempting to play favorites with what kind of Internet traffic is legit or not.
Cox Pulls a Comcast with eDonkey
Excerpted from The Register Report by Cade Metz
Comcast isn't the only American ISP throttling P2P file-sharing traffic. Cox Communications is pulling exactly the same trick.
According to Robb Topolski - the networking guru who first revealed that Comcast was busting BitTorrents back in May - Cox is using some sort of network hardware tool to sever connections on another P2P service, eDonkey. "I'm seeing the same thing with Cox and eDonkey that I saw with Comcast," Topolski told us.
In essence, Cox is preventing P2P users from seeding files. When one machine attempts to trade a file with another, the ISP is sending a duped "reset flag" to break this P2P connection.
"At the point where the remote peer asks for a particular section of a shared a file, Cox is sending a forged reset," Topolski said. "This reset is intended to take two peers that are out of sync and get them back in sync. But in this case, the reset is being forged even though there's nothing wrong with the connection."
Previous Topolski tests showed that Comcast is pulling this trick with eDonkey and Gnutella as well as BitTorrent - though it was the BitTorrent bagging that got all the press. Now, he reports that exactly the same interface that plagues eDonkey users on Comcast is hitting users on Cox.
When we asked Cox if this was indeed the case, it tossed us the same canned statement it sent to DSLReports.com, where Topolski's tests were first revealed. Cox reserves the right to "manage" high-bandwidth traffic:
"To ensure the best possible online experience for our customers, Cox actively manages network traffic through a variety of methods including traffic prioritization and protocol filtering. Cox does not prohibit the use of file-sharing services for uploads or downloads, or discriminate against any specific services in any way. To help our customers make the most out of their Internet experience, we take proactive measures to ensure that bandwidth intensive applications do not negatively impact their service."
This is a bit easier to stomach than Comcast's initial response to the news that it was bagging BitTorrents. When the story first went web-wide in August, Comcast flatly denied it. The big-name ISP didn't adopt this sort of "we're-just-managing" defense until last month, when the Associated Press ran a piece confirming Topolski's tests.
With Comcast, Topolski was able to verify that a network management tool called Sandvine was firing off fake resets, but with Cox, he's yet to zero-in on the specific piece of offending hardware. "I'm not ready to confirm, but I'm 90 percent sure they're using Sandvine, too." His tests are ongoing.
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
On behalf of consumers, content providers, technology firms, and ISPs, we respectfully disagree with Mark Cuban's exhortation regarding P2P and we wholeheartedly invite Cox Communications to join the DCIA-sponsored P4P Working Group (P4PWG) to explore enlightened alternatives to "throttling."
We also encourage the entertainment and telecommunications sectors to join with us in a major new initiative for 2008 to at last address P2P channel copyright infringement.
P2P and related swarming, caching, and content acceleration technologies already represent a vastly more economical and much faster means of distributing content than traditional server-client architecture - and the larger and more popular the files the more dramatic the improvement with P2P.
Enhancements of P2P are still in their infancy with much more to come as, for example, P4P is further developed and security solutions advance that will reduce the amount and duplicative waste of infringing traffic.
With the old server-client approach exemplified by Google Video, each file download requires a separate session between the originating server that houses the file and each receiving PC or other networked hardware. Especially for large, rich media files, this represents a more expensive form of distribution and less efficient use of bandwidth and network resources than P2P. It is also incapable of being significantly improved upon and potentially more vulnerable to security hacks than decentralized P2P.
As Cuban acknowledges in a backhanded way, P2P replicates broadcast economics, where the content provider enjoys virtually no incremental cost as each file is distributed to one or a thousand or literally tens of millions of users.
But ISPs also benefit, because with P2P, every user on the network joins in a kind of online cooperative - sharing storage, bandwidth, communication, and even viral marketing to very efficiently redistribute content - already using far fewer resources than if these same downstream users each had to have their own session with an upstream server to receive an equivalent number of files.
The future of P2P is very bright for consumers, too, as the cost savings, efficiency, reach, and higher security of P2P technologies are starting to enable a host of socially networked, long-tail, user-based services - as well as enterprise solutions for collaboration and communications - and distributed computing for research by using millions of computers linked together to solve complex problems.
As we discussed last week, however, it's also time - finally - to define the new business models with roles, responsibilities, and rewards for each party that touches content in the P2P channel: from originator to ISP (wholesaler) to P2P (retailer). And along with that major transformation, also to adopt measures and implement solutions that will weed-out copyright-infringing transactions. This will free up bandwidth and other resources currently wasted on such traffic and further help realize P2P's potential to be the most profitable (i.e., highest margin) distribution medium.
Meanwhile, we urge Cox to join with other major carriers and leading P2P companies that are participating in the P4PWG, which is focused on developing constructive and mutually beneficial alternatives to the kind of traffic "throttling" that Cuban would probably espouse, but is not in the best interests of any of the participants in the digital content distribution chain.
P4P is defined as a set of business practices and integrated network topology awareness models designed to optimize ISP network resources and enable P2P based content payload acceleration.
The P4PWG is co-chaired by Doug Pasko of Verizon Communications and Laird Popkin of Pando Networks. Laird will make a presentation on P4P at the European Peering Forum 2007, later this week in Barcelona, Spain; and both Doug and Laird will discuss P4P at the P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LV, the DCIA's Conference within CES on January 6th.
In addition to P4P, as noted above, addressing copyright infringement by abusers of P2P software programs represents another major opportunity for distancing P2P from the competition.
More than anything, the enormous popularity of open P2P reflects an irrefutable force of nature: discovery. Users log-on to seek out new artists and titles and genres and experiences; and they are doing so in ever increasing numbers.
If the P2P queries that are now satisfied with downloads of unlicensed content - often with multiple duplicates in redistribution - could be directed to deliver authorized versions of such material, the efficiency of P2P would be further increased - right along with its security and profitability.
An immediate result would be far fewer copies of the same content on various networks, which in turn would allow swarming, caching, and content accelerators such as similarity enhanced transfer (SET) algorithms, to be even more effective than they are today.
Efforts in this area need to be stepped up and carriers need to be engaged as well as applications developers and content providers. There is a real need for solutions that isolate infringing content and eliminate that as a much more attractive alternative to the blunt instrument of protocol shaping condoned by Cuban and practiced by Cox, Comcast, and other cable MSOs.
This is not to say that every transaction will be a paid download. Far from it; in fact the DCIA believes that the lion's share of P2P content distribution revenue for rights holders, ISPs, and P2Ps will be from ad-support and other innovative sponsorship arrangements.
This is to proclaim that the combined savings from enhanced and hybrid P2P content delivery networks (CDNs), P4P network resource optimization, and infringing content elimination, augurs well for an even more compelling future of P2P as the most popular protocol on the Internet.
If we work together and focus on coordinating related initiatives, it will be possible in 2008 to finally convince P2P naysayers of the superiority of this channel and erase the stigma that file sharing has carried since the days of Napster when its power first started to be unleashed.
May the coming year be the one in which entertainment and technology interests come together to embrace and utilize P2P to its fullest potential. Share wisely, and take care.
Obama Aide: P2P Throttling Should be Illegal
Excerpted from ZeroPaid.com Report
The Democratic primary season is producing all kinds of interesting positions and responses to current affairs that many politicians seem reluctant to address.
An aide to Barack Obama (D-IL) was asked recently to clarify the Senator's technology policy and whether or not he would make Comcast's current policy of throttling BitTorrent traffic illegal. According to the aide he would, but that traffic shaping in general would be something he'd have to take a closer look at before addressing.
His positions as outlined in Barack Obama on Technology ad Innovation seem to suggest that he would be for file sharing in general and network neutrality specifically.
Highlights include, "Democracy is strongest when its citizens can engage in the full and free exchange of information and ideas, including freely expressing themselves and learning from information offered by others," and "Barack Obama strongly supports the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet."
His most poignant thoughts on P2P throttling and net neutrality read as follows:
"They have a right to receive accurate and honest information about service plans. But these guarantees are not enough to prevent network providers from discriminating in ways that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet. Because most Americans only have a choice of only one or two broadband carriers, carriers are tempted to impose a toll charge on content and services, discriminating against websites that are unwilling to pay for equal treatment."
"This could create a two-tier Internet in which websites with the best relationships with network providers can get the fastest access to consumers, while all competing websites remain in a slower lane. Such a result would threaten innovation, the open tradition and architecture of the Internet, and competition among content and backbone providers. It would also threaten the equality of speech through which the Internet has begun to transform American political and cultural discourse."
"Barack Obama supports the basic principle that network providers should not be allowed to charge fees to privilege the content or applications of some websites and Internet applications over others. This principle will ensure that the new competitors, especially small or non-profit speakers, have the same opportunity as incumbents to innovate on the Internet and to reach large audiences."
Mounting P2P Pressure for Comcast
Excerpted from Business Week Report by Peter Burrows
Comcast is overstepping its bounds when it comes to controlling the flow of certain kinds of traffic over its high-speed Internet system. That's the assertion made by a growing number of consumers and advocacy groups fighting practices they consider illegal via the courts, regulators, and some controversial, behind-the-scenes methods for masking Internet content.
The brouhaha followed an Associated Press report that Comcast has been interfering with particular sorts of bandwidth-hogging traffic. Within days of the October 19th story, consumer advocacy groups lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to force Comcast to stop. And on November 13th, San Francisco Comcast subscriber Jon Hart filed a class action claiming a litany of charges, from breach of contract to computer fraud. The suit demands that Comcast end the practice and pay damages to subscribers who got less than the "mind-blowing speeds" Comcast advertised.
At issue is how Comcast, under Chief Executive Brian Roberts, treats P2P traffic, so named because it is passed among millions of PCs owned by people who agree to share their bandwidth rather than by way of a company's servers. Comcast denies it has blocked any traffic outright, but admits to using "network management" techniques to handle the rising tide of P2P traffic, and thereby maintain service for all of its other customers. "What we're doing is pro-consumer, because we're protecting the many users whose experience is degraded by heavy P2P congestion," says Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas.
The Comcast controversy strikes at the heart of some of the biggest debates engulfing technology, including how much control network operators should have over the flow of information and entertainment over their systems and how aggressively they ought to monitor content and adjust delivery speeds.
Comcast's moves reflect a basic assumption that P2P networks are primarily used to send copyright-infringing material, including songs, TV shows, and full-length movies. Specifically, charges have focused on Comcast's throttling of files sent using a P2P standard called BitTorrent that by some measures is as popular for sending video today as Napster was for sending music in the late 1990s.
But reaching conclusions over the fairness of Comcast's moves and the legitimacy of P2P content won't be easy, since not all P2P traffic is made up of unlicensed tunes and flicks. Companies such as Joost, Vuze, and BitTorrent - whose founder, Bram Cohen, created the original protocol - have struck deals to use P2P technology to distribute programming by dozens of mainline content owners such as CBS, PBS, and Viacom's Showtime.
These content owners see P2P techniques as a promising means to go from today's grainy YouTube-quality content to deliver full high-definition resolution to consumers via the Internet.
What's more, many experts contend that Comcast and other network owners will never succeed in accurately filtering out P2P traffic, and certainly not just the unauthorized stuff. Files can be easily disguised to avoid detection with a few programming tricks - say, adding some descriptive bits to make a movie clip look like an e-mail.
Some players go further still. When it began to see increased filtering by Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast a year ago, Vuze started including encryption code in its software that essentially makes it impossible for any network - or potentially a movie studio or even law enforcement - to know the nature of what's traveling over the Internet, says CEO Gilles BianRosa.
Today, Vuze uses only a thin layer of encryption, enough to throw off Comcast's bit-sniffing technologies. Think of it as the software equivalent of Groucho Marx glasses, rather than, say, plastic surgery and admission into a witness protection program.
However thin the disguise, the inclusion of encryption in a technology used by millions could make P2P networks an even greater haven for the distribution of infringing content, especially if P2P companies were to move to more industrial-strength versions as ISPs take counter-measures.
All of this is creating fodder for Net neutrality advocates, who argue that Comcast's methods show how big network owners can use their pipes unfairly. "Vuze provides a very concrete example of the kind of harm throttling by ISPs can create," says Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has also criticized Comcast's actions. "Too many people have relegated this to piracy, when even more it's about the future of innovation. If you're trying to build a video service that might compete with Comcast, it's very difficult to do that when they're altering the network and not telling you how they're doing it."
Even BianRosa thinks there's a better way. "We think the game of cat and mouse is the wrong way to go about things," he says. That's why Vuze filed its own petition to the FCC on November 14th. The goal is twofold. First, it wants the FCC to set rules about what ISPs can and can't do to manage, filter, or shape traffic over their pipes. This includes a requirement that ISPs disclose their policies and tactics publicly. He also hopes the petition for rulemaking will spark increased conversation between ISPs and the P2P crowd, whose technologies suck up as much as 50% of all US bandwidth, by some accounts. "This isn't just a regulatory approach," he says. "We intend to have a constructive dialogue with the ISPs. It's a case of, 'Help us help you.'"
BianRosa believes it's time for ISPs to embrace - rather than demonize - the leading P2P players. As P2P traffic grows apace, ISPs will increasingly be forced to throttle delivery speeds or consider video fingerprinting techniques that anger consumers, lead to lawsuits, and create PR imbroglios. Privacy advocates already are crying foul over news that AT&T is considering use of one such fingerprinting system.
No doubt, the P2P crowd is working hard to become more legitimate, so as to find profitable business models that let them make the most of their innovations. Case in point: Vuze. It was founded by the engineers who created Azureus, a BitTorrent program that is the most popular tool for sending video files over P2P networks. This January, the company launched the Vuze site, for the express purpose of using the Azureus tool to distribute content licensed from content owners.
So far, some 13 million people (more than 2 million in October alone) have downloaded the Vuze player, and the pace is accelerating. The site offers mostly obscure fare to appeal to the college crowd, such as sci-fi fantasies and outdoorsy reality shows featuring babes in bikinis. But the deals with Showtime and PBS show that mainstream media is catching on.
BianRosa says there are plenty of ways for the Vuzes and Comcasts of the world to work together. "There are techniques we can implement with them to address the strain on their network," he says. An ISP like Comcast could use the same software tools Vuze uses to find the quickest route between all those PCs. That could help an ISP minimize the strain on its own pipes, right down to shifting prime-time traffic onto P2P networks to make sure delivery of Comcast's own exclusive content isn't degraded at all.
But that's going to be a hard sell to network operators that also sell TV services, and could be threatened by anything that aids in the delivery of free video services over the Internet. The Comcast controversy is unlikely to be settled amicably any time soon.
Vuze and Comcast Observations
Excerpted from LA Times Report by Jon Healey
Last week, industry leading peer-to-peer television (P2PTV) service Vuze filed a petition asking the FCC to codify its 2005 policy statement into rules governing how ISPs may treat the data passing through their networks. It was motivated in no small measure by reports that Comcast was surreptitiously interfering with some types of online traffic in the interests of managing its network. In particular, Comcast was interdicting some types of file-sharing, including BitTorrent, which Vuze uses to deliver its content partners' videos.
I thought I'd pass on a couple of observations by Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa. The Comcast episode has often been characterized as having something to do with fighting piracy, because the vast majority of content that passes through file-sharing networks is bootlegged. But what's really at issue here, BianRosa said, is the architecture of the Net, which is ill-suited to the task of transmitting high-resolution video.
Comcast is one of a number of ISPs trying to rein in file-sharing, BianRosa said, and their traffic-management efforts don't discriminate between pirated and legitimate transmissions. Instead, they simply throttle applications that consume a lot of bandwidth (i.e., P2P networks). The catch is that those applications are also some of the most efficient ways to deliver what Internet users increasingly demand, namely, multimedia experiences.
Programs such as BitTorrent are particularly well suited to moving big files around because they can use all the bandwidth available to a downloader, not just what's available at the source. But ISPs design their businesses around the assumption that customers don't use all the bandwidth they're paying for, at least not all the time. They can assign the same capacity to multiple people. That approach starts to break down when customers use BitTorrent to download huge files - whether it be a licensed high-def program from Vuze or a bootlegged movie - for hours on end.
"We really understand that problem," BianRosa said. "What we're trying to say here is, there's no point fighting where the Internet is going." Now that the public has acquired a taste for rich audio and video content online, it's not turning back.
That's why BianRosa wants the FCC to require ISPs to manage their networks transparently, rather than using comparatively blunt tools to interdict traffic secretly.
He also wants ISPs, content providers and distributors such as Vuze to work together on the capacity challenges that high-resolution video presents, rather than playing a "cat-and-mouse game" over file-sharing.
Vuze and similarly oriented file-sharing firms (e.g., BitTorrent Inc.) could become the entertainment industry's best anti-piracy allies, using file sharing to generate revenue for studios instead of cease-and-desist letters or lawsuits. But they can't play that role if ISPs like Comcast take a binary approach to network management, interfering with BitTorrent traffic indiscriminately to keep their pipelines clear.
Digital Media Won't be a Sideshow
Excerpted from LA Times Report by Joseph Menn
Today's puny sales of movie and TV downloads makes one wonder: Why are striking members of the Writers Guild of America so intent on getting a cut of Internet profits?
Only about $20 million worth of movies were sold online last year, according to Parks Associates, a Dallas-based research firm. Compare that with $9.5 billion in theater tickets, $16.3 billion in DVD sales, and $7.4 billion in DVD rental revenue.
But the entertainment giants have proclaimed that the future lies online and are acting accordingly - posting videos on the web and striking deals to speed digital distribution through such retailers as Amazon and Blockbuster and fresh faces like Hulu, which streams shows from NBC Universal, News Corp., and others.
Estimates for how quickly the market will grow can vary greatly. Movie download revenue should rise to $1.8 billion by 2011, said Parks principal analyst Kurt Scherf. Streaming video that includes advertising is likely to be even bigger.
"The real winners from the writers holding out are the people in five or seven years," said analyst Laura Martin of Soleil/Media Metrics.
Exactly how entertainment will be delivered in the future is a matter of speculation.
"In 10 years, there will be a monitor on the wall in the family room, and it will be connected to a box - maybe an Xbox, maybe something else - and I'm going to watch content on demand," said Richard Wolpert, an LA investor and former chief of strategy at RealNetworks.
"That's not going to be delivered over cable, it's going to come over Internet protocol."
Bypassing broadcast and cable delivery could wipe out a big chunk of residuals that writers now collect when their material is rerun. Wolpert said that explains why the writers are so intent on staking a claim to all new modes of transport into the home.
At the moment, technical hurdles are delaying such a transition. For instance, Apple TV, which allows people to capture entertainment on their PC and ship it to their TV for viewing, hasn't changed the world the way the iPod did. That's partly because consumers don't want another box in their living rooms.
Eventually, though, such barriers may fall. "Consumers would rather watch on their own schedules," Wolpert said, adding that personal video recorders (PVRs) "are just a place-holder technology" until Internet connection speeds surge and the networks and studios put their vast libraries of TV shows and movies online.
Use of Broadband to Overtake TV Viewing
Excerpted from MediaPost Report by Mark Walsh
Within the next three years, more than 16 million US households with televisions will use their broadband service more than they use their TV sets today, says technology consulting firm In-Stat.
Up to 30% of viewers will drop subscription TV and use the Internet for watching TV, according to a recent survey by the Scottsdale, AZ based In-Stat. More than 40% say they aren't getting enough international news and information from their current TV service, despite having hundreds of channels to choose from.
Respondents had a broadband connection, a TV, and were 18 or older.
Will There Be Enough Bandwidth
Excerpted from IT Business Edge Report by Carl Weinschenk
On one hand, we continue to hear about fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), expanding wireless access networks, Internet2, and bandwidth being added to the overall mix via private IP-based networks. On the other hand, planners discuss their fears that it won't be enough.
Actually, the voices extolling the advances are louder, since they generally are associated with folks pushing their products or making sure broadband conduits are big enough for new services.
But the voices of caution are there. One came through loud and clear this week with the release of a Nemertes Research report entitled The Internet Singularity, Delayed: Why Limits in Internet Capacity Will Stifle Innovation on the Web. The report - or, at least, the press release announcing it - is downbeat.
It says that Internet capacity could be passed by demand in a bit more than two years. Bandwidth-intensive applications such as voice, P2P, and others are the culprits. The study says that in the US alone, it will cost $42 billion to $55 billion beyond the $72 billion already budgeted to meet the problem.
The challenge will grow as high-capacity networks get closer to homes and businesses. The executive summary of this report on FTTH suggests that the platform is emerging as "a serious broadband platform" in Japan and South Korea and that great progress is being made in the United States and parts of Europe. The report obviously is detailed and deep but, curiously, the release doesn't say who published it.
The summary has several bullet points, including the point that incumbents need "to upgrade their access and core networks." This dovetails with Nemertes' thesis. The proliferation of FTTH and other high-capacity pipes into homes and businesses means that more people will be using high-capacity applications which, of course, will put further pressure on the core of the network.
The potential capacity issues are among many factors behind the much publicized battle between Comcast and BitTorrent and a less publicized confrontation between Cox and eDonkey over P2P traffic. This story has a nice roundup on the fracas. The bottom line is that this fight has a lot to do with the control over the valuable commodity of bandwidth.
The necessary bandwidth will be added as long as the justification - in terms of potential revenue - is there. The path won't be smooth, however. At times, there will be a surfeit of bandwidth and at others times scarcity that will likely temporarily impact service levels.
Bodog's Joost Deal
Excerpted from Online Casino News Report
The parent company of an online casino, Antigua-based Bodog Entertainment, has announced that it is to make its television programs available over the Internet after a deal with leading P2PTV service Joost.
Joost is the Internet's first television distribution platform and the deal will see Bodog provide episodes of its Bodog Fight program such as "Bodog Fight: Costa Rica Combat," which was filmed in Central America with some of the world's top mixed martial arts talents. In addition, Joost is to screen episodes of "Bodog Fight: Paradise Lost" along with music videos from Bodog Music artists Bif Naked, Neurosonic, and The Vincent Black Shadow.
"As a long-time producer of digital content and community, Bodog is pleased to be partnering with Joost to present our television content to online viewers in such a high-quality setting," said Calvin Ayre, Founder of Bodog.
"We are sure that Joost's viewers will love the excitement of our Bodog Fight shows along with more great shows to come."
Viewers will be able to reach Bodog's Joost content by following a link from the online casino.
"With action-packed sports and compelling music and entertainment programming, Bodog Entertainment fits perfectly with Joost's audience," said Yvette Alberdingk Thijm, Executive Vice President of Content Strategy And Acquisition for Joost.
SyncTV's Unlimited TV Show Download Service
P2PTV service SyncTV this week announced the private beta launch of its download service, which will provide home-theater quality TV shows on an unlimited download basis. Completely based on open-standards, the SyncTV service works on Windows PCs, Macs, and Linux PCs, and in the future it will also work on TVs and portable players.
SyncTV's program library is organized by channels, some of which, like Showtime, will already be familiar to viewers. Once subscribed to a particular channel, viewers can download any show made available on that channel, which in many cases will include every episode of every season of a particular show. There is a small monthly fee for each subscribed channel, though a minority of channels will make their content available on a pay-per-download basis, rather than through subscriptions.
Those interested in signing up to the private beta can request participation through the SyncTV homepage at www.synctv.com. Qualifying beta-testers can then download the media player free of charge to their PC or Mac to gain access to a rich library of TV content that is available. As the SyncTV beta continues, there will be even more content available from major channels and networks, creating one of the deepest libraries of TV shows available anywhere.
The video and audio quality of SyncTV programming will be the highest available through Internet download. The minimum video quality of all the content is comparable to the same content on DVD, and where possible, HD content will be available across the different channels. SyncTV will also have programming available in discreet 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, which is being used at the highest available settings.
SyncTV allows users a great deal of flexibility in how they playback the TV shows downloaded. Viewers can playback shows on up to five 'home' devices, which means PCs/Macs now and other home entertainment devices in the future. Upon availability of compatible portable devices, SyncTV will allow audiences to specify an additional ten portable devices for playback.
SyncTV has developed an open P2PTV platform, which makes it easy for manufacturers and application developers to create products to support it. To facilitate development, SyncTV will make its protocols and data formats available to developers and is using Marlin, an open-standards DRM system.
John Gildred, President of SyncTV, commented: "We are absolutely passionate about giving consumers the highest-quality, best-value and most flexible TV download service available anywhere. We really hope that our users will agree that we have achieved that."
Gildred continued, "This beta period will allow us to fine-tune the system and get feedback on how we can improve the user experience. We are going to be listening carefully to what our users are saying so we can give them the service they want and need."
Red Lasso: Exclusive First Look
Excerpted from VideoNuze Report by Will Richmond
Red Lasso is a stealth company that's been around for about 2 years, though only now coming to the surface. Kevin O'Kane, President & Founder, and Al McGowan, COO, provided access to the private beta for this report.
Red Lasso's goal is "to help broadcasters extend the life of their content." It's positioning itself as "an anti-YouTube," allowing broadcasters to proactively contribute long-form video and audio, which users can then search and clip for exactly the content they're looking for. The video can simply be watched or it can be embedded. Though it doesn't want to be seen as an "online DVR", it is tempting to see Red Lasso as such. Monetization is most likely through advertising, though a licensing model is possible as well.
Red Lasso's playing in the same basic space as Voxant and Clip Syndicate, with a key differentiator being the long-form content availability and clipping feature. Red Lasso is currently taking 150 different broadcast feeds from around the country, and its ability to get the industry to cooperate is helped by the fact that Al and Kevin are broadcast veterans.
Red Lasso is trying to appeal to at least 3 types of users: broadcasters seeking to flexibly publish specific video clips on their own sites, independent websites trying to feature key segments of their own video (e.g. sports teams), and bloggers seeking to embed video. It believes this third group is the most fertile territory.
Bloggers across the spectrum (politics, entertainment, sports, etc.) have been hungry for video clips to enhance their sites. This demand will only increase. If you're a blogger looking just for the "money quote," clipping from long-form assets provides a lot of value.
Red Lasso clipping is pretty straightforward, and clips can also be published to the community for widespread viral use. Search is based on phonetic and closed-caption text.
At a strategic level, Red Lasso again demonstrates how broadband's influence is going to be felt in the broadcast TV industry. Traditional concepts of appointment viewing, geographic constraints, and local ad sales are all going to seem quaint as broadband allows quality video to fly around the net.
Red Lasso has a staff of about 20 and is based in King of Prussia, PA. It has raised $6.5M from investors including Pat Croce (former head of Philadelphia 76ers), Anthem Capital, Osage Ventures, and the Guggenheim Opportunity Fund.
ROK Acquires Fun Little Movies
ROK Entertainment Group, the UK-based mobile technologies, applications, and entertainment-development company, this week announced that it has acquired a 51% controlling interest in Los Angeles-based Fun Little Movies (FLM) for a combination of cash and equity in the company.
Under the terms of the agreement, ROK and FLM will jointly offer made-for-mobile content, such as comedy short films, to network operators worldwide.
FLM specializes in the development, production, and distribution of original mobile-oriented comedy for global distribution. In its nomination for Best Video Producer at the 2007 ME Awards, Mobile Entertainment Magazine said FLM "pioneered the advertiser-funded concept" for mobile video.
"ROK's management team gets it. They see the same potential for the mobile space that we do," said Frank Chindamo, FLM's President & Chief Creative Officer. We are excited about the new synergies created by joining with a company that understands 'synergy' the way we do."
Mr. Chindamo founded FLM in 2004 and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC), teaching "Mobile and Internet Viral Screenwriting and Producing."
"We love what Frank Chindamo and his team at FLM have been doing in the mobile entertainment space. They really understand the medium and what people want from mobile movies," said Laurence Alexander, President & CEO of ROK. "We look forward to expanding the footprint of FLM content worldwide and going forward to develop a whole new portfolio."
FLM distribution deals include Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, as well as several handset makers and overseas partners, from China and Japan to Europe, Africa, and South America. ROK will be its primary distributor worldwide.
In addition to marketing ROK TV through Mobile Operators such as Vodacom South Africa, Avea Turkey, Telenor Pakistan and AIS in Thailand, ROK's service is also available direct-to-consumers via Nokia Downloads on the Nokia E series handsets across Europe.
ROK Entertainment Group, formed in 2003, is a world-leading mobile technology and applications developer. With 170 staff worldwide, ROK has filed more than 40 international patents for its suite of innovative mobile technologies.
With 3 billion mobile handsets in use worldwide, the mobile TV industry is forecast to become a multi-billion dollar business within a few years. ROK TV enables the streaming of live and on-demand TV to mobile phones over mass-market 2.5G, as well as over 3G and Wi-Fi.
Casual Games Get a Serious Business Model
After a 12-month beta program involving some of the industry's leading players, NeoEdge Networks, a leading developer of private P2P networks, has launched the industry's first open advertising network for monetizing online and downloadable games. With NeoAds - NeoEdge's P2P game advertising network - all major participants in the gaming industry ecosystem - publishers, developers, web portals and aggregators alike - can monetize online and downloadable games, a market that many industry watchers say will be one of the biggest for years to come.
NeoEdge has also appointed Nolan Bushnell - the "father of the videogame industry" - to serve in the role of Chairman. Bushnell joined the company as a director last spring. In his new role, he will advise the company as it continues to broaden its offering to the rapidly growing and complex gaming industry.
One of the fastest growing markets, the $35 billion-plus gaming industry continues to grow as one of the top consumer pastimes. Gaming is now the #3 most popular consumer activity on personal computers, behind e-mail and web surfing only.
According to a recent survey by Parks Associates, 34% of US Internet users play online games every week - more than the number of people who visit social networks or online video-sharing sites. The opportunity is particularly great in the casual gaming market, which the industry is just learning to monetize.
"As many industry insiders have long suspected, gaming - particularly casual gaming, where there is an immediate opportunity - can mean serious business, if only the industry had an effective way to monetize it," said Alex Terry, CEO at NeoEdge. "The challenge for the industry is to understand that gaming might very well represent the next big ad-supported media platform. But to monetize gaming, you need an easy, open, comprehensive approach to serving an increasingly complex market."
With the new P2P ad network, NeoEdge is delivering three innovations to the market:
1) Ease of adoption: the company uses a proprietary, patent-pending technology - NeoARM (Advertising Rights Management) - to create a new kind of ad inventory in and around new and back-catalog games, without any effort required from game publishers. NeoEdge also easily and seamlessly integrates with all industry leading digital rights management (DRM) solutions;
2) Open environment: the network is open to all major participants in the evolving ecosystem - game publishers, developers, web portals, and aggregators - enabling the network to scale wherever there is an opportunity; and
3) A comprehensive solution: the ad network can be used to monetize both online and downloadable games, providing publishers with a single platform for serving multiple markets, a key feature in a market that continues to evolve globally and demographically.
Having signed deals with more than 22 publishers, including PlayFirst, Mumbo Jumbo, ValuSoft and Arcade Lab, NeoEdge is already distributing more than 200 ad-supported games in more than 130 countries through multiple partners. NeoEdge also offers free-to-play ad-supported games on its own consumer site, mostfun.com.
"The gaming industry serves a huge, complex, global market," said Bushnell. "By simplifying the advertising opportunity with a single platform that's easy and open to the entire ecosystem, NeoEdge will accelerate growth. It will be a boon for the industry - for technology, for innovation, and most of all, for consumers who will have greater access to great games which will have a broad market."
The Ad-Supported Music Space
Excerpted from Crenk Report by Steven Finch
With all the recent talk about the music industry and how it is suffering, there have been a few companies trying to push the envelope and develop a new model which the industry will adopt. These models are ad-supported and come in different sizes and shapes. Here are two examples.
Imeem is a social network that focuses on providing services and platforms that are fully supported by advertising. It is currently based in San Francisco, CA (right across the road from Snocap). Imeem is primarily focused around the music industry and has been signing a lot of distribution deals with companies such as EMI. Imeem has also joined the new Open Social platform from Google, which is a big step forward for developers. Imeem doesn't allow users to download all the songs on the site, but it does pay artists for the amount of streams they receive compared to the overall streams on the site.
QTRAX is yet to launch and is based on an innovative P2P file-sharing platform. QTRAX has already signed deals with Universal, Sony/ATV, Warner Music Group, The Orchard, EMI Music Publishing and EMI Music, TVT Records, Go Digital, ASCAP, and BMI. The company is based in New York, NY and Melbourne, Australia. This platform pays artists royalties based on advertising.
Nettwerk Music Group & Imeem Join Forces
Nettwerk Music Group, Canada's leading privately-owned record label and artist management company, and imeem, a leading social network, this week announced a comprehensive audio, video, and marketing partnership. The companies will collaborate to enable imeem users to discover new music from Nettwerk through artist-based sponsorship, marketing, and promotion initiatives.
Imeem launched the first ad-supported and interactive music streaming service earlier this year to offer both music and video in partnership with major and independent record labels. Nettwerk's entire audio and video digital catalog is available for interactive on-demand streaming on imeem, including popular artists Avril Lavigne, Barenaked Ladies, Dido, Sum 41, and Sarah McLachlan. The imeem community can listen to their favorite artists, discover new music through friends with similar tastes, and express themselves by creating custom playlists and slideshows to share on imeem and across the Web.
"We want to extend the reach of our talented artists at Nettwerk by connecting with fans wherever and however they are enjoying music," said Terry McBride, Nettwerk Music Group CEO. "Imeem has built a unique social networking service that truly benefits both bands and fans."
"We are looking forward to exploring creative new ways to connect our growing community of over 18 million users with new and established artists from Nettwerk's terrific catalog of mainstream and indie music and video," said Steve Jang, CMO and Head of Business Development at imeem.
BFN & Kiptronic Combine P2P & Ad Insertion
Mediaguide, a leader in fingerprinting technology and airplay data, Brand Asset Digital, an innovator in P2P distribution, and Kiptronic, a media services platform for downloadable media, have joined forces to create a seamless solution for distributing and monetizing content across major P2P networks.
This partnership will make it easier for advertisers, media companies, and other entities to reach the large numbers of consumers actively using P2P networks. The solution runs on the Beyond Frequency network (BFN) - a new digital content platform jointly launched by Mediaguide and Brand Asset Digital, which develops technology supporting digital media distribution, ad insertion, and business intelligence.
Kiptronic brings its industry-leading seamless server-side workflow and dynamic ad insertion capabilities to round out the offering and monetize P2P content.
Benefits include reaching a largely untapped audience interacting on P2P networks with targeted, relevant content or marketing messages - this audience represents a very attractive demographic, geared toward the 14-to-34 age-range; maintaining appropriate controls around distributed content, without disrupting the P2P experience for consumers using the networks; quantifying the specific reach of a campaign with rich data and analytics tracked by the BFN business intelligence platform - these metrics include information on the P2P downloads associated with a given campaign, breadth of reach across the major P2P networks and more - including a full contextual view of advertising, marketing, and promotional campaigns; providing content owners or advertisers with the ability to manage large campaigns across multiple P2P networks, using a mix of audio, video, still images and copy - for example, using Kiptronic and BFN, a piece of content could be delivered to a user with an appropriate branded message as part of the file, no matter where that download occurs.
"Many marketers, content owners, and media companies are attracted to the huge volume of consumers interacting across the top P2P networks," said Jonathan Cobb, Founder & CTO, Kiptronic. "Numerous barriers have kept these players from jumping into this growing channel until now. These include fear of loss of control over their content, lack of branding, an inability to generate revenue from content introduced into the P2P space, and the tremendous legwork needed to engage P2P on a large-scale level. Our alliance with BFN offers an easy way to engage these consumers while generating additional revenue streams."
"Kiptronic can now offer its advertising and media clients the opportunity to wrap brand messages around unique audio or visual content sourced by, and distributed into, the P2P arena through BFN," said Paul Wright, Mediaguide's Senior VP of Strategic Alliances & Marketing. "We then provide a detailed view of how many times that unique piece of ad-supported content was downloaded by consumers interacting on the P2P networks, how many impressions the branded message received and where they were received."
Hard Rock's All-Star Charity VCD
Digital music companies The Orchard and Blue Maze Entertainment have partnered to present a Virtual CD (VCD) for Hard Rock International's All-Star Charity CD - SERVE2. This effort focuses on the second installment of the Hard Rock's SERVE CD Series, aptly titled SERVE2. The album features previously unreleased tracks from some of music's most influential artists, including: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joss Stone, Citizen Cope, and KT Tunstall to name a few.
The patent-pending VCD is now featured at www.HardRock.com/Serve2. The application acts as a sampler for the album; helping to showcase artists, songs, album artwork, and ultimately directing fans to e-commerce opportunities and additional information about the cause. Additionally, users can share the VCD sampler with friends, helping to spread the music, generate buzz, and drive sales.
By capitalizing on new media platforms such as the VCD, and the celebrity of the participating artists, the contributing companies will be able to raise awareness and funds to help solve a global crisis.
According to Mitch Towbin, Director of Marketing for Blue Maze Entertainment, "Virtual CDs make it easy for companies like Hard Rock to create compelling online initiatives and support critical causes such as World Hunger Year. Hard Rock and The Orchard have progressive perspectives on music promotion, and we're excited to help them leverage their assets to make a difference."
Copyright Law Revisited
Excerpted from Online Minute by Wendy Davis
Many observers have said that copyright laws are out of touch with everyday experience. Now, University of Utah professor John Tehranian has laid out the case for that proposition in his law review article, Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Norm/Law Gap.
In the paper, he takes readers through a hypothetical day in the life of a law professor to show how he regularly violates at least the letter of the copyright law - with each violation carrying a potential penalty of $150,000 in damages.
The total: Up to $12.45 million in fines for 83 infringements - ranging from singing "Happy Birthday" to a friend (publicly performing a copyrighted musical composition) to going swimming without a t-shirt, and thereby revealing a shoulder tattoo of the Hanna-Barbera character Captain Caveman (unauthorized reproduction of a copyrighted work and unauthorized display of an animated character).
Of course, copyright laws aren't new - and neither is singing "Happy Birthday" in public. But Tehranian argues that the difference now is that e-mail, camera phones, and other digital technology that we increasingly rely on create a record of infringement that can be used in court.
"The very technologies that enhance our media experiences are rapidly bringing us closer to the Panopticon state in which a near-total enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights becomes viable," he writes.
Consider singing along with the stereo in the car - a copyright infringement, though one that's never been enforced. He proposes a future scenario where cars come with voice recognition software that monitors the car for singing and then bills the owner licensing fees for having hummed along: "One can readily imagine a future dystopian world where the record labels, long since irrelevant to the development and distribution of new music, become nothing more than copyright trolls, drawing their revenue entirely from collections (or litigation) of this kind," he writes.
The article's especially timely given that the record industry shows no signs of backing away from its strategy of pursuing litigation against file-sharers, even as the biggest musicians are breaking away from their labels.
In the last few months, while the record industry won a $220,000 judgment against single mother Jammie Thomas, Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor (in collaboration with Saul Williams) were busy releasing albums for free online.
Given recent events, Tehranian's prediction that the record labels will be left with little other than trolling for piracy doesn't seem all that far-fetched.
Coming Events of Interest
Broadband and the Future of the Internet - November 27th at the Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC. According to Cisco Systems, after a brief mid-decade slowdown, Internet traffic is now nearly doubling every two years and will continue to do so through 2011. Total online traffic will nearly quintuple in the five-year period from 2006-2011. Learn about emerging technologies and how broadband deployment impacts them all.
P2P - Sin or Savior? - December 6th at 2 PM ET free webcast sponsored by VeriSign, presented by Streaming Media, and featuring Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen, Editor-In-Chief, Streaming Media; Stephen Condon, Vice President, Media and Entertainment, VeriSign; Marty Lafferty, CEO, Distributed Computing Industry Association (DCIA); and Guy Nouri, CEO/Founder, Dragonfly.
P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LV - January 6th in Las Vegas, NV. This is the DCIA's must-attend event for everyone interested in monetizing content using P2P and related technologies. Keynotes, panels, and workshops on the latest breakthroughs. The Conference will take place in N260 in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Conference Luncheon in N262-264. This DCIA flagship event is a Conference within CES - the Consumer Electronics Show.
IPv6 - Connectivity, Community & Consumer Electronics - Monday January 7th from 3-4 PM at The Venetian, Las Vegas, NV. This CES panel will discuss how the new IPv6 protocol will impact the consumer and enterprise experience of a connected world. Topics will include mobility, interoperability, media content distribution, and what IPv6 means for consumer electronics manufacturers.
CCNC 2008 - The Fifth Annual IEEE Consumer Communications & Networking Conference, January 10th-12th at Harrahs, Las Vegas, NV. Now co-promoted by the DCIA. The latest research developments and technical solutions in the areas of home networking, consumer networking, enabling technologies (including middleware), and novel applications and services. See www.ieee-ccnc.org for details.
Digital Music Forum East - February 26th-27th in New York, NY. Major and indie music label executives, artists and their representatives, and technology and consumer electronics leaders come together for this "must attend" event. Now in its 8th year, Digital Music Forum East is the leading event focused on the intersection of technology and music. Don't miss the opportunity to be part of the industry's future.
P2P ADVERTISING UPFRONT NY - Sponsored by the DCIA March 11th in New York, NY in conjunction with the Media Summit New York (MSNY). The industry's premiere marketplace focused on the unique global advertising, sponsorship, and cross-promotional opportunities available in the steadily growing universe of open and closed P2P, file-sharing, P2PTV, and social networks, as well as peer-assisted content delivery networks (CDNs).