EU invests $22 million in open-source P2P technology

The pan-European bureaucracy backs a BitTorrent-minded project and points the way toward the monetization of digital downloads.

It's ironic how different Europe can be from the United States. While the U.S. continues its mindless rampage against the future of digital distribution with DRM, RIAA, MPAA, and other acronyms designed to stuff the 21st century back into the 20th century's ideas of how to package and sell property, Europe is actually investing in that future. To be exact, it's putting $22 million toward peer-to-peer technology, in a BitTorrent-minded project called P2P-Next.

Surely European broadcasters are against the move, right? After all, research suggests that 50 percent of those using BitTorrent are doing so to steal TV shows. As one TorrentFreak blogger noted, however, European broadcasters believe this situation presents an opportunity rather than a threat:

One of the biggest names taking part is the BBC, who will use the new BitTorrent client to stream TV programs. Other partners in the P2P-Next project are the European Broadcasting Union, Lancaster University, Markenfilm, Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The main goal is to develop an open source, BitTorrent-compatible client that supports live streaming.

The current project will help broadcasters to find better ways to reach th[e TV-downloading] online audience, and offer high quality on-demand television.

Now if only we could work on U.S. industries threatened (and potentially enriched!) by digitization and downloading. The software industry might actually more fully embrace open source. The entertainment industry would find ways to monetize the heavy demand for its products, as evidenced by file "sharing."

The EU apparently recognizes that the way to monetize P2P is to get out in front of it and enable it on superior terms to those available by more illicit means. Imagine that.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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