BitTorrent's new media format seems like an attempt at legitimate file sharing.
On Tuesday BitTorrent introduced a new type of torrent file where fan interaction takes place inside the torrent. It's a multimedia format called BitTorrent Bundle, and the company has teamed up with Ultra Music to test the waters. It's like a store within a single file, allowing customers to choose what they want, when they want it.
As an example, Ultra's new BitTorrent Bundle is a behind-the-scenes look at Kaskade's 2012 "Freaks of Nature" tour, designed to support the artist’s May 14th documentary release. Once downloaded, potential customers get half of what's really packed into the file for free: the Dada Life remix of Dynasty, and the "Freaks of Nature" tour trailer.
The other half of the torrent contains two files: a 2012 Staples Center 10-minute film exclusive, and the "Freaks of Nature" digital tour booklet. These are locked, but can be unlocked by merely providing an email address to Kaskade – no purchase is necessary.
In essence, BitTorrent is working on a "direct-to-fan" distributed technology solution for creators. The mechanism for secure distribution is embedded within the protocol itself and compatible BitTorrent clients. Every bundle comes with a key – how it's unlocked is up to the content provider.
Play what you want. Pay what you want.
"We don’t need another digital radio station," the company adds. "We don’t need another walled garden or standalone content store. We need ways to place value exchanges within the content itself – allowing these exchanges to travel freely, without barriers or limitations; allowing these exchanges to multiply as content is shared."
Other artists listed on the BitTorrent Bundle site include Pretty Lights, Node, Alex Day, Arthur Newman and loads more. The goal, the company states, is to move interaction to the file, not the distribution network.
BitTorrent is a San Francisco-based company that develops peer-to-peer file sharing technology. Unfortunately, the company name has been tarnished by piracy thanks to millions of users who share copyrighted content using various BitTorrent clients and websites. Matt Mason, BitTorrent’s VP of marketing, said the company hasn't done a very good job of owning its own brand over the last ten years.
"Many people don’t realize that we have over 2 million pieces of licensed and legal content available in our ecosystem," Mason told Wired. "It is true that our technology is exploited as part of a stack of technologies used for piracy. But you’ll find that as a standalone tool we are not a very good piracy tool. We don’t rip CDs or capture movies on camcorders. We don’t host content that infringes on copyright, we don’t index it, point to it or promote it in any way. All of those things happen outside of BitTorrent."
Bittorrent Bundle is the evolution of the torrent file concept, he said, offering not only free content within a single file, but a gateway to premium content. That should make content owners smile just a little.