September 29, 2008
Volume XXIII, Issue 9
Don't Miss P2P & MUSIC Next Week in Berlin
Don't miss the DCIA's first-ever P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE scheduled to take place at PopKomm in Berlin, Germany next Friday October 10th.
Click here for the full agenda and here for a complete list of speakers. Special pre-registration rates are still available, which save attendees $100 over regular registration fees and include free admission to PopKomm.
This historic event features top music and technology experts convening from all over the world to discuss strategic opportunities available now for productive collaboration among music and peer-to-peer (P2P) interests.
The emphasis will be on practical ideas that can be implemented now with substantial economic benefits to all participants.
AT&T and Verizon: P2P Will Go Mainstream
Excerpted from Wired News Report by Betsy Schiffman
AT&T and Verizon execs expect file-sharing applications will become widely-used tools, mostly because they're efficient and inexpensive distribution platforms.
"I'm very interested in P2P," said Doug Pasko, Senior Technologist at Verizon, while speaking on a panel at Streaming Media West.
"It's not a silver bullet, but it works well in high-volume environments and has its place in the consumer world."
Pasko's comments come just a few days after cable broadband provider Comcast vowed to adopt a protocol-agnostic approach to network traffic management.
"I think, while some people want to stamp file sharing out, others see it as a reliable alternative for managing network costs," said Sam Farraj, Assistant Vice President at AT&T.
New Era of P2P - Big Business Joins in
Excerpted from Wired News Report by Betsy Schiffman
P2P is growing up and going corporate. The profitable future of P2P file sharing could lie in the enterprise market.
Case in point: Cushman & Wakefield, a commercial real estate services provider, whose business has nothing to do with media, is using Ignite Technologies' enterprise file-sharing system internally to exchange everything from training videos to CEO announcements.
"The poster child for P2P is the enterprise solution," said Brian Jensen, Managing Director of Global Corporate Communications at Cushman & Wakefield, speaking on a panel at Streaming Media West.
"It does for us what we could not do before - provide rich media content to employees. And it gives us invaluable tracking tools. Before we had this solution, we would put a video on our intranet and, if five people watched it, the system would crash."
But Jensen says his IT department hasn't been totally receptive to the idea of using file-sharing technology on the network even now.
"When we tried to introduce P2P to our IT group they said 'Forget it, it ain't happening. Put the files on the centralized network and we'll distribute them.' In fact, I don't think they know that we're using P2P now - unless they see this panel. The technology has matured and its story needs to be told."
Report from CEO Marty Lafferty
Congratulations to Dan Rayburn and the entire Streaming Media West (SMW) team for a very informative San Jose event. Sessions will be archived on the SMW video site here by next week.
DCIA Member companies exhibiting at SMW included Abacast, AT&T, Ignite Technologies, Kontiki, PiCast, and TVU Networks.
We are especially grateful to BitTorrent's CTO Eric Klinker, Verizon's Senior Technologist Doug Pasko, Comcast's VP of Internet Services Barry Tishgart, and Cushman & Wakefield's Managing Director of Global Communications Brian Jensen, for their participation in the Can P2P Deliver on its Promise for Video Distribution panel.
Eric traced BitTorrent's origins to 2001 and noted that it was the first P2P protocol to be widely used for video. Industry estimates currently ascribe 30-to-50% of all Internet traffic to BitTorrent-based applications, and nearly all of that is video.
A key question, now that consumer adoption and acceptance by the developer community have been extremely well demonstrated, is what will be the best ways for video-based services using BitTorrent to become commercially viable.
BitTorrent is working hard to deliver answers to that question.
During the past six months, a great deal of very productive work has gone on among Internet service providers (ISPs), BitTorrent, and other P2P companies to address network management issues.
Eric does not view copyright infringement as a technical issue, but rather as a social problem to be addressed at the publisher level.
To Eric, the competitive benefits of P2P should not be relegated only to the attractive cost-value proposition that P2P affords thanks to its efficiencies, but also, and to a greater extent, to the social networking and related consumer contributions that are unique P2P attributes.
For P2PTV companies to succeed, an important test is mass market adoption of their clients or browser-based implementations and software developer validation. High levels of acceptance on these fronts indicate both consumer friendliness and technological robustness.
For large-scale live P2P video content delivery, greater upstream capacity is needed. Looking ahead, content publishers should be increasingly enabled to tap into a vast resource of interconnected P2P networks.
Doug noted that Verizon views P2P as a fundamental Internet technology and is now in the process of exploring how P2P can best be used.
Verizon has been working with P2P companies to mitigate network resource requirements for optimally supporting P2P across its network through the DCIA-sponsored P4P Working Group (P4PWG), which Doug Co-Chairs along with Pando Networks' CTO Laird Popkin.
There is no question that P2P has a future in online video delivery and that ISPs can help such technologies improve.
An important job now is to evangelize how attractive P2P is becoming, and how a number of negative past perceptions have been overcome.
Broadband companies can best provide transparency to their subscribers with clear upfront communications about such fundamental issues as variables impacting attained delivery speeds.
More licensed content needs to be made available in the P2P distribution channel on attractive terms to consumers. Users want to access content legitimately, but find that it is not yet being made available in authorized services.
Doug indicated that successful P2PTV entrants will be those that provide an end-to-end service solution or partner with others to achieve this, rather than just offering an attractive technology. Quality and reliability are at least as important as efficiency.
For live video, Doug believes that hybrid approaches that can fall back on server-delivery in instances of temporary P2P network lags, will work best. The ongoing revolution in on-demand delivery of content is going to prove to be very disruptive to traditional media environments.
Barry outlined Comcast's commitment to play a major role in the industry and its active involvement in the P4PWG including participation in the most recent field tests, the results of which Barry indicated were very positive - even better than expected - and will be publicized in October.
Comcast's recently announced Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) enforcement plan, featuring broadband subscriber notifications when the very substantial threshold of 250 GBs has been surpassed, will be carefully monitored and evaluated for future modifications.
Whether or not Comcast's appeal of the recent FCC decision is successful, Comcast will proceed with its new protocol-agnostic approach to network management.
Barry sees a current major need as defining the most viable business model(s) in this space.
There is no particular individual P2P pitfall, but a number of attributes of P2P have initially frustrated ISPs and content rights holders. The new hybrid-P2P and peer-assisted models show great promise.
Successful P2PTV players will be those that do a good job with accountability, tracking, and reporting as the model matures. Barry noted that a symbiotic relationship needs to develop and, in particular, better delivery of advertising to users.
Brian described Cushman & Wakefield as a multi-location fifteen-thousand employee firm that is using P2P, through services provided by Ignite Technologies, to distribute rich media content company-wide. Cushman & Wakefield has found that Ignite's P2P-based solutions solve bandwidth issues that prior non-P2P video-content-delivery had exposed.
Now the company can do such communications activities as distribute a 75 MB file to all employees and attain a 75% viewership level within a fifteen-hour period.
Brian also recounted the challenges of push-back from the IT department, which cited legacy concerns about P2P utilization; and he recommended that the industry do more PR work to overcome those issues and tell the very positive story of P2P.
Successful enterprise deployments of P2P could be the poster-children for broader implementation by the content industries. From an end-user's perspective, P2P is wonderful.
P2P service providers that communicate in plain language to non-technical companies and address their customer needs and pain-points will be successful. Allocating P2P service costs among multiple departments with individual budgets in large enterprises can also be a valuable tool. Customer service is an essential component - not just good technology.
The entire ecosystem, with all participants in the P2PTV distribution channel incentivized and satisfied, must be fully evolved for ultimate success. Brian is very excited about the possibilities of adding live delivery and interactive components to Cushman & Wakefield's enterprise P2P system.
For more discussion of these and related issues, plan now to attend the DCIA's first-ever day-long P2P & VIDEO CONFERENCE on October 27th at Digital Hollywood Fall in Santa Monica, CA. Share wisely, and take care.
TV's Future is On-Demand
Excerpted from Site Point Report by Josh Catone
My debut post into the world of professional tech blogging was a comparison of P2PTV start-ups Joost, Babelgum, and Zattoo under the headline "Internet Killed the Television Star." More than a year later, that headline is starting to seem more and more true.
The Television Bureau of Advertising expects spot television revenues to fall 2-to-5% in 2009 in the US. "It's going to be a miserable year for broadcast TV, which will allow a redirecting of resources to the Internet," said Gordon Borrell, CEO of Borrell Associates.
Online video ad spending is expected to quickly ramp up to $5.8 billion in 2013, from just $505 million this year, and approach television ad-spending levels.
P2PTV services and Hulu are free, legal, and on-demand, and it is for those reasons that web video is the future of television. That last bit is the most important - on-demand video is clearly a more desirable delivery method from a consumer standpoint, than traditional, scheduled television. You get what you want, when you want it, without having to wait.
There are two main hurdles to overcome in order for the IPTV future to become the dominant reality, though. The first is the relatively minor but important issue of availability across devices.
According to Robert Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, which operates one of the largest live streaming video sites on the web, most viewers will watch video on the biggest screen available to them. That means people would rather watch TV on their television set and not on their computer.
There are a number of projects underway to make that happen. One is the Open Screen Project from Adobe, which aims to bring Flash video to multiple screens - computer, mobile, television, and other devices. Products such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Apple's Apple TV will also help to push web-delivered video onto television screens, as well.
The other problem is one of infrastructure. A little over a year ago, I wrote that the concept of the television channel is dying. My vision for a future television utopia was one in which all content would be delivered on-demand (save live content - which would be available on-demand after conclusion), and in which air dates would become "release dates" for new content. Programming could be purchased a la carte or entire seasons could be subscribed to.
The major issue with my vision is that the infrastructure doesn't yet exist to support it. The current broadcast infrastructure in the US could support all 110 million households watching the same show at the same time, but as I understand it, couldn't support all 110 million households streaming different content on their own schedules.
The growth of online video advertising revenue, coupled with the decline of spot TV revenue will change that, however. The increasing popularity of web video and the on-demand nature of the Internet will force television networks to begin rethinking their delivery methods and eventually upgrade their networks to be able to handle completely on-demand services.
P2P System Hastens File Distribution
Excerpted from EE Times Report by Colin Johnson
P2P digital content distribution used to be about copyright violations, and users sending unauthorized music and videos to each other over the Internet. Now, Kontiki says it has created a way of using P2P content distribution to ease corporate network congestion, without adding new hardware.
Kontiki (Sunnyvale, CA) claims its delivery management software enables corporations to securely distribute files among many users without the need for high-speed, centralized servers. It also claims the system is based on a P2P system that is ultra-secure.
"Legitimate uses of P2P communication are not about copyright violations, but rather about distributed computing - large networks of machines achieving a common goal together better than they used to do alone," said Wade Hennessey, Kontiki's CTO.
Rather than distributing digital content from large central servers, Kontiki's approach uses secure P2P networks to distribute digital content among users' machines, "thereby delivering it more efficiently - both in terms of network utilization and in terms of bandwidth utilization," Hennessey added.
Kontiki's Delivery Management System uses computers and their networks to distribute documents without additional hardware. Instead, software is installed on each user's computer to coordinate P2P communications among network nodes. When a file is to be distributed among users, copies are sent over the Internet to one user on each LAN, after which P2P communication is used to distribute to the rest of the users.
Kontiki's software uses an interactive graphical user interface (GUI) based on Adobe Flex, which provides real-time client and server-side metrics that monitor deliveries and track usage patterns. The system automatically scales as networks grow by adding new peer-assisted delivery avenues as users are added. Standard XML and web service application programmer interfaces allow integration with corporate intranets.
Operators Embrace Social Networking
Excerpted from Fierce Mobile Content Report by Sue Marek
After months and months of buzz and hype about mobile social networking, we are finally starting to see a hint of a strategy and a business case for this phenomenon.
There were a slew of social networking announcements at the CTIA Wireless IT and Entertainment conference a few weeks ago. Most memorable was Verizon Wireless' launch of SocialLife, a gateway for multiple social networking sites such as MySpace, LiveJournal, and Rabble, which is powered by Intercasting's Anthem platform. The application is available for $1.49 per month.
Intercasting's aggregation of social networking sites is a sign of progress in this space. Similar to how mobile content aggregators a few years ago helped connect mobile content publishers with carriers, firms like Intercasting are providing a similar service for social networking sites. They are connecting social networking players with operators by building a catalog of partners and helping carriers drive customers to those sites.
Intercasting isn't alone in this strategy. VeriSign's Messaging and Mobile Media division has launched a platform called Xoomerang, which also is intended to help carriers connect with a variety of social networking sites.
Social networking aggregation is a sign of maturity in this space and an indication that the industry is getting closer to figuring out how best to connect consumers to these sites and make money - or at least build loyalty - from that connection.
It will be interesting to see if there are any mobile social networking applications that make their debut now that T-Mobile USA is launching its highly anticipated Google Android-based handset.
Verizon Will Not Cap Bandwidth
Excerpted from NewTeeVee Report by Chris Albrecht
For broadband providers, imposing bandwidth caps is all the rage, with Comcast leading the charge. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Verizon, which has now gone on the record to say that it won't be implementing bandwidth caps any time soon. Doug Pasko, Verizon Senior Technologist, broke the news to a crowd during a panel at Streaming Media West.
Afterwards he added, "Right now there is no choking, no throttling, and we have no plans to do so." The company isn't capping heavy users or singling out any technology like P2P.
Pasko said the delivery of online video "was a huge component" in Verizon's decision to roll-out fiber to 18 million homes over a seven year period. But Verizon isn't worried about Internet video delivery overtaking traditional video distribution.
"People made huge investments in their televisions," said Pasko, "They want really high quality." Plus, Pasko added, Internet delivery of video on that scale is so far down the road, who knows what technology will be around then.
Verizon offers a 10 MB connection on the low-end, up to 100 MB in some areas, and Pasko hasn't seen anyone abusing the system to the point that would warrant any kind of intervention. Of course, there is always a caveat. Pasko said Verizon will never say never to bandwidth caps, but for now, the company has definitively said it won't do them.
Abacast Acquires P2P CDN Tukati
Abacast, a leader in real-time streaming solutions this week announced the purchase of Tukati, a producer of peer-assisted on-demand delivery solutions.
The acquisition brings a combined peer-assisted Live and On-Demand Service under a single entity, which was previously offered via a partnership between the two companies.
"The combination of these two companies' technologies enables the first hybrid P2P solution covering the complete spectrum of real-time and on-demand distribution," said Michael King, President of Abacast.
"Bringing Tukati into the Abacast family enables content publishers to make a single vendor choice for reliable content distribution, while getting a huge leap in distribution efficiencies."
The combined product gives content publishers a rich suite of delivery options including real-time streaming; on-demand video, game, and software distribution; progressive video delivery; and push delivery. In addition, content demand and end-user performance metrics are offered in real-time, allowing marketing campaigns to be adjusted based on consumer usage patterns.
"The acquisition of Tukati by Abacast is great news for customers wanting secure, reliable, high volume rich media and file delivery services," said Jim Kott, current CEO of Tukati, who will transition to be the VP of Business Development at Abacast.
"Sales, support, and product integration are now done by a unified team at a single location, leveraging our cumulative 13 years of experience running large-scale, secure distribution networks."
Kontiki Enhances P2P Delivery Management System
Kontiki, which provides an industry-leading commercial P2P download solution for high-quality video and digital content, this week announced the availability of the Kontiki Delivery Management System (DMS) 5.4, an advanced peer-assisted delivery technology that increases efficiency and control, while offering robust and comprehensive reporting and measurement tools.
The Kontiki Delivery Management System offers superior protection and rapid delivery of digital content, including related meta-data to further ensure that all delivered files are current and up-to-date.
"The dynamics of online video and digital content are continuously shifting. Consumers are demanding anytime, anywhere access to information, while the enterprise is seeing the benefits of communication and collaboration through video and other digital content. As such, the need for fast and reliable access to content continues to increase," said Eric Armstrong, President, Kontiki.
"Kontiki is focused on keeping pace with our customers and delivering solutions that meet their changing needs. This release further validates our commitment to evolving the P2P content delivery landscape and providing fast, secure and affordable access to digital content."
The Kontiki Delivery Management System is built on a hybrid architecture to provide fast and affordable distribution of high-quality digital content.
The combination of central directory servers, central content delivery servers, and individual computers or "peers" running Kontiki's delivery client, provides the management of all network interaction, while allowing users continuous access to digital content.
Kontiki currently delivers millions of downloads per month and continues to evolve its peer-assisted delivery technology to address the demands of online video in the enterprise and consumer space.
The enhanced features of Kontiki DMS 5.4 include: security; real-time reporting and analytics; deep delete capability; scalability; and APIs.
"Video and multimedia content is becoming an everyday part of internal company communications, however the costs associated with delivering such content can be significant," said Steve Vonder Haar, Research Director of Interactive Media Strategies.
"P2P-based content delivery systems are gaining in popularity because they are quick to deploy, have low up-front deployment costs, and use existing network resources. Kontiki's latest product release offers secure, flexible, and scalable solutions for enabling enterprise wide adoption of video communications."
Highwinds and Octoshape Go P2P
Excerpted from Web Host Industry Review Report by David Hamilton
Multi-platform IP services and content distribution provider Highwinds Network Group has partnered with a leading provider of high-quality, peer-assisted streaming solutions, Octoshape, to create a hybrid-P2P content delivery network (CDN) solution for streaming live events to millions of concurrent worldwide viewers.
According to the company's announcement Tuesday, Highwinds is fully integrating Octoshape's P2P data transmission technology with its CDN and real-time analytical tools. This new distribution enables major broadcasters to power many of the most-watched live events on the Internet.
Octoshape Chief Executive Officer Stephen Alstrup said partnering with Highwinds for a live event streaming solution exemplifies Octoshape's commitment to providing the best user experiences in the industry. "We were very impressed with Highwinds' top-tier network and value-adds like real-time reporting, so it was a natural choice to combine our complementary technologies and services. It's really a win-win solution for broadcaster and viewer."
Highwinds' P2P CDN uses its high-performance RollingThunder network, consisting of 23 world-wide data centers with multiple 10 Gbps connections, more than 700 peering partners, and bandwidth capacity of nearly 1 Tbps.
Along with delivery, the collaboration combines the analytical tools of both companies, integrating the comprehensive suite of reporting tools into Highwinds' StrikeTracker media manager and reporting dashboard.
A Boost for P2PTV Service Joost
Excerpted from Media Week Report by Mike Shields
Roughly a year ago, P2PTV start-up Joost made its debut, backed by a wave of momentum: a cool digital pedigree - it was launched by Kazaa and Skype creators Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis - $45 million in funding, sponsor support from A-list brands including Procter & Gamble and United Airlines, and a massive PR blitz.
But even with content from content giants Viacom and CBS, the service never took off, mostly because it required users to download software to their desktops. And soon after launch, sleeker web-based properties such as Hulu stole Joost's thunder.
But Joost CEO Mike Volpi believes the likes of Hulu owe Joost a great debt. "I don't think that those launches would have happened" were it not for Joost, he said.
While Volpi acknowledges users did not take to Joost's required software, the strategy was "necessary to get us over the hump."
The software, he explained, was designed with digital rights management (DRM) at its heart, giving comfort to partners putting so much premium fare online. Without it, Volpi said, companies like Viacom "wouldn't have given us anything."
Though the market has changed rapidly, Volpi added, "Most people who aren't in the business don't have brand recognition for Joost or Hulu yet."
Joost's content partners agree. "I really do believe that it is so, so early," said Greg Clayman, MTV Networks Executive VP, Digital Distribution and Business Development. "They have ample time to establish themselves."
Dmitry Shapiro, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Joost rival Veoh Networks, said Joost needs to offer users something truly special to get its mojo back, so to speak.
As Joost looks to create magic with its new site, Volpi said his plan is to wait until it builds an audience before pursuing any new advertisers while letting current sponsors' contracts run their course.
Speakaboos Selects Javien for Online Payments
Javien Digital Payment Solutions this week announced that Speakaboos, a children's website that features digital storybook videos to help support children's development of literacy skills, has implemented the Javien Total Commerce Solution, allowing parents and teachers to download nursery rhymes, lullabies, and stories for 99 cents each.
The Javien Total Commerce solution is an e-commerce platform that includes built-in support for online and off-deck mobile sales of digital content. The platform also leverages Javien's patented micro-payment technology to aggregate and batch transactions according to various rules, and adapt those rules depending upon an individual buyer's behavior or the collective behavior of a category of individuals over time.
Speakaboos is a children's website that celebrates classic stories such as "Curious George," "Snow White," and "Aesop's Fables" through the voices of today's biggest stars. The website features "storybook videos" with original illustrations and music accompanied by educational activities, games, and contests that kids can play alongside their parents. Each video can be purchased online for download to a user's computer or iPod, with 15% of all top-line revenue going directly to charitable partners such as the National Education Association (NEA) and The Creative Coalition.
Javien's micro-payment technology is critical to Speakaboos' business model, enabling high volumes of small transactions across the website. With the Javien Total Commerce Solution platform, Speakaboos' customers can download several 99 cent purchases at one time. From the back-end, Javien manages each customer's purchase and aggregates the transactions, reducing potential credit card processing fees for Speakaboos.
"Javien is a great partner because they understand our business needs," said Noelle Millholt, Associate Publisher of Speakaboos. "Customers demand flexibility in how their purchases are made - particularly in the publishing industry. That's why it's critical for us to offer alternative payments in addition to having a micro-payment aggregation technology that helps us minimize our transaction processing fees. These tools allow our customers to easily make purchases, and enable us to capture revenue for both our business and our designated charities," added Millholt.
"We weren't surprised to hear that Speakaboos had reviewed several other payment solutions, only to be disappointed by poor customer service and a series of complicated set-up processes," said Leslie Poole, CEO of Javien Digital Payment Solutions. "Our depth of experience in the payments industry allows us to better understand the challenges that merchants face, and positions us to anticipate their needs," added Poole. "We are thrilled to provide Speakaboos with the payment platform to sell their innovative and educational digital content."
RightsFlow Launches Interactive Streaming Solution
RightsFlow has launched a bolt-on addition to its proprietary "FLOW" system, an automated bulk-licensing and accounting tool. The new turnkey product provides licensing, accounting, and payment solutions ensuring that songwriters and music publishers get paid by online music services, labels, and distributors for interactive streams and limited downloads, including subscription and ad-supported models.
The launch follows a recent agreement among the Digital Media Association (DiMA), National Music Publishers' Association (NMPA), and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), together with the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and Songwriters Guild of America (SGA) whereby "limited download and interactive streaming services will generally pay a mechanical royalty of 10.5% of revenue, less any amounts owed for performance royalties".
"We are very excited to be able to provide these services to our clients," said Patrick Sullivan, President & CEO of RightsFlow. "Through this new offering, labels, distributors, and online music services alike can easily and efficiently outsource their publishing licensing and royalty operations for interactive streaming and conditional downloads, enabling a hassle-free way to offer such content."
"With the new solution, RightsFlow has once again demonstrated an ability to move quickly to changes in the market, providing scalable back-office licensing solutions. RightsFlow provides an invaluable service to independent labels," commented Erik Gilbert, Vice President of Content at IODA.
The new service provides a complete end-to-end solution for licensing of publishing, clearances, license administration, royalty calculation, and accounting to publishers. RightsFlow's solutions relieve the burden of music licensing and royalty administration through direct experience in developing and running bulk licensing departments.
"Our mass licensing and royalty system allows us to manage enormous quantities of licenses and royalties very efficiently. As a result, we can provide our clients with cost effective turnkey services - a fully outsourced solution to licensing and royalties," added Ben Cockerham, Chief Operating Officer at RightsFlow.
RightsFlow's outsourced licensing service utilizes the bulk licensing system of The Harry Fox Agency (HFA), a leading US music rights licensing organization, to ensure publishers and songwriters are properly compensated under US law.
A P2PTV Company with a Long-Term Veoh
Excerpted from The Street Report by Steve Cooper
For an independent film producer to "make it," he pitches his product to a television or movie studio with only a slight hope it will ever see the light of day, regardless of how good it is. Think of all the wasted time, energy - and film.
Four years ago, Dmitry Shapiro conceived of Veoh, a P2PTV service that enables independent producers to post high-quality, long-form video where visitors can find, watch, and personalize their selections. It's redefining success for video producers.
"We wanted to build a platform that allows anyone to broadcast Internet television," says Shapiro, 39. "It wasn't built for kids to share a bunch of short, little clips. It was built for people who actually wanted to produce something and deliver it to the masses."
Shapiro launched Veoh in the fall of 2005, and, within three years, he has delivered on his promise. According to Alexa, an Internet traffic-monitoring website, Veoh is one of the top 100 most-visited sites in the US. Not bad for a guy who learned English by watching television after moving to the US from Russia at age 10.
Veoh serves more than 100,000 content publishers, including a roster of cable and TV networks from CBS, ABC, ESPN, and Viacom. In addition, Veoh features videos from Google's YouTube and NBC's Hulu. With so much content, it would be easy for a channel surfer to drown.
"I always say in a world of 400 cable channels, it's always hard to find something to watch," says Shapiro, jokingly.
When you're connected to the web, however, a solution is just one smart algorithm away. Just as Amazon has helped recommend books based on previous inquiries, Veoh has created its own patent-pending technology that "views" what users are watching then makes further recommendations.
For independent publishers, this is a godsend. While a visitor might stop by for an episode of "The Office," Veoh's recommendation engine could potentially bring him to your video if it appeals to the same audience. Veoh has used this information for better advertising targeting.
The big question long associated with online video has been: How do you make money? Veoh, which has raised just under $70 million, believes it has the answer. An advertiser can approach Veoh with the demand of reaching the audience of the television show "CSI." Veoh can deliver that audience, whether they're watching "CSI" or some other independent video. The advertiser wins, the viewer gets appropriately targeted ads, and the content providers and video producers share earned advertising revenue. With this formula, Shapiro predicts his company will be cash-flow positive by mid-2009.
The growth and success of Veoh has taught Shapiro to fail quickly. It's advice he recommends to other entrepreneurs. "What I mean by that is: Have a vision. Make decisions quickly. Launch, see if they work. If they work, do more of that. If they don't, don't have an ego and beat yourself up. Scratch it and do it again."
For a company built to help tell stories, working quickly has worked. But as Shapiro will point out, he's interested in telling long stories, not short clips - and Veoh's story is just beginning.
MiniNova Breaks Download Records
Excerpted from TorrentFreak Report
MiniNova, the most visited BitTorrent site, broke two download records this week. Since its inception, the site has now served 6 billion torrent downloads and this week it also reached an all-time record of more than 10 million downloads served in a single day.
The BitTorrent popularity explosion is still underway, and it's picking up speed with the start of the new TV-season. Several BitTorrent sites are now among the most visited sites anywhere on the web, and MiniNova is believed to be the largest.
In June 2007 MiniNova saw its 2 billionth download. This figure has since tripled to 6 billion - an impressive figure for a site that has been around for less than four years.
Over the past months, the downloads have been growing steadily, and this week, another record was broken. Over 10 million torrents were downloaded in a single day - 117.6 per second - a rate never achieved before. With many TV-shows debuting, this has been the busiest week ever on MiniNova, and probably on other BitTorrent sites as well.
On average, half of all the BitTorrent downloads at any given point in time are TV-episodes. The availability of free-streams seems to bring this figure down a little, but only in the US.
Meanwhile, the MiniNova team is focusing more on premium publishers. Last year the site launched a content distribution platform where publishers can offer their content to the millions of MiniNova visitors without any charge. MiniNova users can download these premium files at high speeds, and they even have the option to stream music and video.
Copyright Law Should Not Chill Innovation
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and a substantial coalition of groups representing both consumers and industry filed an amicus brief this week in the first major lawsuit since MGM v. Grokster against a creator of P2P file-sharing software, warning that the case has profound implications for the development of new software and hardware.
In Arista v. Lime Wire, the recording industry plaintiffs seek to hold Lime Wire liable for acts of copyright infringement by users of its software. In its amicus brief, EFF urges the court to apply the law in a manner that will not chill technological innovation and to reaffirm that developers should not be held liable for copyright infringement based on misuses of their technology that they did not actively promote.
"It's crucial that courts continue to protect emerging technologies that are capable of substantial lawful uses, even if they also can be used in less acceptable ways," said EFF Senior Intellectual Property Attorney Fred von Lohmann.
"The technology industry, consumers, and copyright owners have all benefited from innovations like the photocopier, the CD burner, the iPod, and the personal computer, notwithstanding the fact that all of them can be misused."
The Lime Wire lawsuit is the latest in a series of lawsuits filed by the recording industry against P2P file-sharing software companies, including past lawsuits against Grokster, Aimster, and Napster.
"Ordinary tasks like offering technical support shouldn't lead to ruinous copyright liability just because it turns out that some customers are applying a multi-use tool to unlawful purposes," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Michael Kwun.
"For example, Adobe shouldn't have to quiz me to ensure I have the rights to the photo I'm editing before it answers my questions about how to use Photoshop."
Joining EFF on the brief are the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Home Recording Rights Coalition (HRRC), the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), Public Knowledge (PK), the Special Libraries Association (SLA), and the US Internet Industry Association (USIA).
Please click here for the full amicus brief.
Internet Anti-Pollution Advocacy Group is Formed
In an effort to encourage enhanced development of innovative and creative Internet content distributed over safe and reliable networks, a new advocacy group, Arts+Labs, has been created by an impressive group of technology and creative organizations that regard the Internet as a vibrant marketplace where all consumers should be able to safely choose from a vast array of digital products, entertainment, and services.
Arts+Labs and its founding members AT&T, Cisco, Microsoft, NBC Universal, Songwriters Guild of America, and Viacom also aim to ensure that artists, creators, and innovators can safely share their works through new online distribution channels with confidence that their right to earn fair compensation for their creativity is respected.
A key element of the Arts+Labs mission is to inform and educate consumers about the availability of legal, safe, affordable, and innovative entertainment content on the Internet.
The group will also raise awareness of the growing problem of net pollution - which includes viruses, malware, hack attacks, spam, unauthorized file trafficking, and other activity that threatens to degrade consumers' Internet experience.
Arts+Labs is co-chaired by Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary to President Bill Clinton (1995-1998) and public policy spokesperson, and Mark McKinnon, a former songwriter and newspaper editor who is widely regarded as one of the most conscientious and insightful voices on the use of modern media. Rick Carnes, President of the Songwriter's Guild of America, and Chuck Sims, of the law firm Proskauer Rose, also have agreed to join Arts+Labs as the first members of the group's Advisory Board.
Bush Administration Opposes RIAA-Based Copyright Bill
Excerpted from CNET News Report by Declan McCullagh
The Bush administration has announced its strong opposition to a bill backed by the recording industry that would have federal prosecutors file civil lawsuits against P2P copyright infringers.
In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that amounts to a veto threat, the administration said it was "deeply concerned" that the proposal would divert resources from criminal prosecution to civil enforcement, and create "unnecessary bureaucracy." Currently prosecutors have authority to file criminal charges.
The two-page letter said that copyright owners already have plenty of legal methods to target infringers, including seeking injunctions, impounding infringing materials, recovering actual damages plus statutory damages, and, in some cases, obtaining attorney's fees. The letter was signed by Keith Nelson, a Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and Lily Fu Claffee, the Commerce Department's General Counsel.
The bill in question is called the Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act (EIPRA) , which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved in a 14-4 vote on September 11th.
In addition, the administration said the bill was "objectionable on constitutional grounds" because it would create an "IP coordinator" inside the White House, the organization of which is traditionally a Presidential prerogative.
It's relatively rare for a pair of federal agencies to oppose a bipartisan bill so strongly - Republican co-sponsors include Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch - and the implied threat of a veto is likely to doom the proposal in its current form. It has echoes of the Bush administration's opposition to an anti-China Internet bill earlier this year, which has gone nowhere since.
Because usual Congressional schedules are in disarray given the upcoming November election, and because work on appropriations bills is even more behind schedule than usual, there's not much time left for Congress to return to this topic and negotiate a compromise this year.
DoJ to Senate: Don't Make Us Copyright Cops
Excerpted from Ars Technica Report by Nate Anderson
In polite but unmistakable language, the Departments of Justice and Commerce this week told Congress that the new Enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights Act of 2008 (EIPRA) was a monstrosity so horrifying that only a stake through the heart of several key provisions could make it palatable.
This is the bill, remember, that would give Justice the power to bring civil (not just criminal) lawsuits on behalf of groups like the RIAA, seek "restitution" damages, and then turn the money over to the private groups.
In other words, the DoJ could become a pro bono lawyer for the RIAA, freeing the trade group from all that bad PR and the millions of dollars it has spent filing tens of thousand of lawsuits in the last few years.
Plus, the RIAA would still get all the money. Shockingly, the DoJ didn't think this would be a really good use of taxpayer-funded resources.
The letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which approved EIPRA several weeks ago.
It starts out nicely enough, saying that both the Justice and Commerce Departments "truly appreciate the bill's intention to enhance the tools available for protecting intellectual property (IP) rights." But then the gloves come off.
"Civil copyright has always been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders," says the letter, "and US law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights."
EIPRA would essentially nationalize this function, turning the government into "pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported Department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry."
Because the Department has "limited resources," such a shift in priorities would only occur "at the expense of criminal actions, which only the DoJ may bring."
Then the authors hint obliquely at the current financial crisis and the existing US debt, saying that "in an era of fiscal responsibility, the resources of the DoJ should be used for the public benefit, not on behalf of particular industries that can avail themselves of the existing civil enforcement provisions."
Public Knowledge (PK), one of the DC groups that has been calling for and had managed to secure some changes to the bill, was pleased by the letter, with President Gigi Sohn saying, "Let's hope Senators get the message."
The Computer & Communications Industry Association (CCIA), funded by many of Silicon Valley's leading lights, also supported the letter.
"At a time when US taxpayers are on the hook to rescue the financial industry, why should they also foot the bill for the content industry's financial fees?" said CCIA President Ed Black.
"We appreciate Justice and Commerce alerting Congress to this flaw and support the administration's efforts to fix this bill. This content protection legislation isn't ready for prime time."
European Parliament Votes to Ban Three Strikes Law
Excerpted from Digital Media Wire Report by Mark Hefflinger
The European Parliament has voted to prohibit member states from enacting "three-strikes laws" that disconnect the Internet accounts of repeat file swappers.
While France was so far the only member of the EU to have enacted such a law, ISPs in Britain had agreed to work with content industry representatives to identify file swappers and send them warnings.
"What's important about this decision is that now it's clear that you can't force Internet service providers (ISPs) to ban people from the Internet without a legal process," Swedish EU parliamentarian Christofer Fjellner said in a statement to Sweden's "The Local."
Judge Orders Mistrial in File-Sharing Case
Excerpted from PC Magazine Report by Mark Hachman
Jammie Thomas, who was ordered to pay $222,000 to a group of music labels for allegedly infringing songs using the Kazaa P2P file-sharing service, has been granted a new trial.
Michael J. Davis, the Chief Judge presiding over the US District Court of Minnesota, ordered the mistrial after concluding that an instruction the court gave to the jury was erroneous, and that the instruction had prejudiced the jury against Thomas.
In the ruling, the court also asked Congress for legislation better defining what P2P copyright infringement entailed, and what the consequences should be. Thomas' actions, the court said, were far different from the sort of copyright infringement the law was set up to prosecute, where works are copied and then sold for profit.
The controversial jury instruction read: "The act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a P2P network, without license from the copyright owners, violates the copyright owners' exclusive right of distribution, regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."
The key word and definition was "distribution," which the labels and Thomas' lawyers disputed. Both sides agreed that the only copying of files in the case was by MediaSentry, a firm hired by the labels to seek out infringers. The lawyers for Thomas had argued that a copyright holder or its agent, MediaSentry, cannot infringe its own copyright.
"The Court's examination of the use of the term 'distribution' in other provisions of the Copyright Act, as well as the evolution of liability for 'offers to sell' in the analogous Patent Act, lead to the conclusion that the plain meaning the term 'distribution' does not include 'making available' and, instead, requires actual dissemination," Davis wrote.
In his argument, Davis also made the case that Congress needed to craft new laws defining P2P infringement, where the infringed works were being copied for personal use.
"The myriad of copyright cases cited by Plaintiffs and the Government, in which courts upheld large statutory damages awards far above the minimum, have limited relevance in this case," Davis wrote. "All of the cited cases involve corporate or business defendants and seek to deter future illegal commercial conduct."
"The Court does not condone Thomas' actions, but it would be a farce to say that a single mother's acts of using Kazaa are the equivalent, for example, to the acts of global financial firms infringing on copyrights in order to profit in the securities market," Davis added.
Davis called the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars "unprecedented and oppressive," noting that they were five hundred times the cost of 24 separate CDs containing the infringing works, and more than five thousand times the cost of three CDs.
"While the Copyright Act was intended to permit statutory damages that are larger than the simple cost of the infringed works in order to make infringing a far less attractive alternative than legitimately purchasing the songs, surely damages that are more than one hundred times the cost of the works would serve as a sufficient deterrent," Davis wrote.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which had filed briefs in the case, supported the judge's ruling.
"EFF applauds Chief Judge Davis's thorough rejection of the RIAA's effort to rewrite copyright law and thereby avoid the trouble of actually proving any infringement has occurred," Corynne McSherry wrote. "And we wholeheartedly endorse the court's call to amend the Copyright Act's oppressive damages provisions."
The Pirate Bay Wins Court Case, Italian Block Lifted
Excerpted from TorrentFreak Report
The Pirate Bay has successfully appealed the decision of an Italian judge who had ordered ISPs to block access to the popular BitTorrent tracker last month. The Court of Bergamo decided that this block was unlawful, and that Italian users should regain access to the site.
This August, The Pirate Bay was censored in Italy following a decree from a public prosecutor. The block didn't prove to be particularly effective, as traffic from Italy increased. Nevertheless, The Pirate Bay was determined to reverse the decision.
The Court of Bergamo has now lifted the block, and ISPs are again allowed to grant their users access to the most frequently used BitTorrent tracker on the Internet.
The Pirate Bay's lawyers Giovanni Battista Gallus and Francesco Micozzi, described the order as "'original' - or 'creative' at best," and said it should not have been ordered in the first place because of the lack of jurisdiction. In addition, they argued that The Pirate Bay is not breaking any laws since it's not distributing copyright-infringing material.
The court's decision might set an important precedent for BitTorrent sites in Italy, especially for Colombo-BT, the largest Italian torrent site, which was shut down by the same prosecutor responsible for the Pirate Bay block. The action against Colombo-BT was orchestrated by the anti-piracy organization IFPI, which hijacked Italian Pirate Bay visitors following the block.
Visitors who were blocked from The Pirate Bay were redirected to an IFPI server, instead of to a server operated by the Italian government. This is another example of how content industry lobby groups such as the IFPI are able to be treated as government institutions.
Since many Pirate Bay visitors claimed their privacy was violated, the Italian Pirate Party and Altroconsumo filed a complaint with the ombudsman earlier this week.
ISP Can't Stop Unauthorized File Sharing
Excerpted from Site Point Report by Josh Catone
A Belgian ISP, SA Scarlet, has told a court in the country that it cannot feasibly stop unauthorized file sharing following a 2007 court order that it must block or filter copyright infringing files from being traded on its network. The ISP tried both slowing P2P traffic and filtering it before eventually coming to the conclusion that the court's demand was unworkable.
For every day that Scarlet doesn't filter or remove unauthorized P2P traffic from its network, the company has to pay 2,500 Euros in compensation according to the 2007 court verdict. That makes convincing the court that filtering all unauthorized content is infeasible an important proposition for the company.
Scarlet has refused to block all P2P traffic, since that would negatively affect legitimate traffic as well as copyright-infringing-file sharing. Initially, Scarlet attempted to slow P2P traffic on its network, but all that did was lead to customer complaints. Unlicensed files were still widely available, it just took longer get them.
Next, the ISP attempted to filter out unauthorized traffic after being ordered to do so by a court appointed P2P "expert." However, according to Scarlet, the software didn't work and failed to filter unlicensed files.
Scarlet's initial response to the 2007 ruling had been to make the claim that filtering P2P traffic would be illegal under Belgian law, which the ISP says doesn't allow it to spy on customers.
Clearly, filtering and traffic throttling don't work and just end up aggravating customers. The better solution for copyright groups, such as SABAM in Belgium and for content publishers would be to address the underlying reasons why people infringe content.
Some of those reasons include excessive cost (people want to pay less), poor quality (people only want to pay for high-quality products), DRM (people don't want it), and ease of distribution (P2P is easier than alternatives).
You can't litigate solutions to any of those issues.
The RIAA Versus, Well, Everybody
Excerpted from InfoWorld Report by Robert Cringley
Most sane humans would greet a lawsuit from the RIAA the way you'd welcome a surprise audit from the IRS. Not Ray Beckerman. He says, "Bring it on, bubba."
Beckerman is a New York-based attorney who's defended several clients in lawsuits brought by the recording industry. He also relentlessly chronicles the absurd activities of a certain rapacious, morally bankrupt trade association on his blog Recording Industry vs The People.
Now he's got to defend himself against what he terms "frivolous and irresponsible" sanctions demanded by the RIAA.
And what is Beckerman accused of? Among other things, maintaining a blog that hurts the RIAA's feelings. Per the recording industry's motion:
"Defendant's counsel has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass Plaintiffs. Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions."
Mind you, this is coming from folks who have no qualms about impersonating the grandmother of a 10-year-old girl in order to extract information from her school about her mother, extorting money out of college students, or suing dead people. So much for demeaning "the integrity of judicial proceedings."
Maybe it's because Beckerman is one of the few attorneys in this country with the cojones to defend subjects of RIAA suits, most of whom are too broke to hire an attorney. Or maybe it's because he's winning.
Last year he forced the recording industry to drop its suit against Tanya Andersen (mother of that 10-year old girl), who then turned around and sued the RIAA under federal racketeering statutes.
The sanctions the recording industry is requesting against Beckerman come in the same motion where they've offered to drop the suit against another of his clients.
Ironically, this month marks the fifth anniversary of the RIAA's "sue 'em all" campaign. All tolled, the "Big Four" record companies have sued between 30,000 and 40,000 people (or alleged people - many of these suits are filed against "John Doe" because all the RIAA has to go on is an IP address).
What have they accomplished? File swapping: more popular than ever. The recording industry: more despised than ever.
Imagine what the industry could have done with the millions it has wasted on attorneys' fees.
They could have developed a voluntary file-sharing licensing model, as the Boycott-RIAA site and others have suggested. They could have built their own online music service to compete with iTunes. Or they could have fed poor people. Any of those would have been better options.
Instead? They file one more "frivolous and irresponsible" motion against the guy who's made them look bad. At least they're consistent.
Coming Events of Interest
PopKomm - October 8th-10th in Berlin, Germany. The international music and entertainment business trade show, conference, and festival. Decisive developments within the business. Think forward: for three days, experts will be appraising and voicing their opinions on creation, communication, and commerce. Over 400 showcase performances.
P2P & MUSIC CONFERENCE - October 10th in Berlin, Germany. The DCIA proudly presents an all-new day-long conference within PopKomm, focused totally on P2P solutions for the music industry. How to protect and monetize musical content in the steadily growing P2P marketplace.
Spirit of Life Award Dinner - October 15th in Santa Monica, CA. The City of Hope Music and Entertainment Industry Group will award the 2008 Spirit of Life Award to Doug Morris. Dinner packages and advertising information can be obtained through Mary Carlzen and 213-241-7328.
P2P & VIDEO CONFERENCE - October 27th in Santa Monica, CA. The DCIA proudly presents an all-new day-long conference in conjunction with Digital Hollywood, focused totally on P2P solutions for the television and enterprise A/V industries. How to protect and monetize video content in the steadily growing P2P marketplace.
Digital Hollywood Fall - October 27th-30th in Santa Monica, CA. With many new sessions and feature events, DHF has become the premiere digital entertainment conference and exposition. DCIA Member companies will exhibit and speak on a number of panels.
P2P MEDIA SUMMIT LV - January 7th 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. This DCIA flagship event is a Conference within CES - the Consumer Electronics Show.
International CES - January 8th-11th in Las Vegas, NC. With more than four decades of success, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) reaches across global markets, connects the industry and enables CE innovations to grow and thrive. CES is produced by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the preeminent trade association promoting growth in the consumer technology industry.