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BitTorrent Deal Spells Trouble For ISPs

Posted: 10th May, 2006 By: MarkJ
UK ISP's that block or limit traffic to P2P services could face a backlash from angry customers as the technologies are adopted by official organisations. The latest comes in the form of a deal between Warner Bros and BitTorrent:

Warner Bros. Entertainment Group has agreed to use BitTorrent's peer-to-peer system to distribute films and television shows, including "Dukes of Hazzard" and "Babylon 5", beginning this summer, the companies are expected to announce on Tuesday.

Warner Bros. is the first major entertainment company to embrace BitTorrent's distribution system, which has been widely used to illegally swap copies of copyrighted movies.

The agreement is also believed to be the first Hollywood distribution deal for any of the file-sharing technology firms, which includes eDonkey or Kazaa. Financial terms were not disclosed. More @ ZDNet.


More content makers now appear to be adopting the technology behind P2P, which allows larger media to be distributed between users without the need for a costly centralised download service.

Unfortunately P2P has gained somewhat of a bad reputation, with services, such as BitTorrent's, also being abused for piracy. Unsurprisingly many ISP's have chosen to restrict these more aggressive bandwidth eating areas.

Typically, with P2P now increasingly being used for legitimate purposes, ISP's will quickly become the target of customer frustrations when users discover that their traffic has been restricted.

We've already seen one example of this; when TalkTalk blocked the P2P traffic from legitimate download services associated with at least one major online game. The service and game became unusable, causing a wave of customer anger.

Going forward, there are even reports suggesting that Microsoft could adopt similar P2P technology for distributing the latest security patches in its forthcoming 'Vista' OS. Other movie and game publishers are also seeking greater use of P2P for selling their products.

We can't help but wonder how some UK ISP's will balance their aggressive anti-P2P stance against a future where the use of legitimate file sharing services could become common place.
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