Sunday, March 19, 2006

New P2P software

Tribler is the name of the new software programme which optimises the exchange of digital television. The programme is based on Bitttorrent, but has been expanded and improved. The technology has been developed with grants by researchers of the four Dutch universities of Delft, Eindhoven, Twente and Amsterdam.

The open source programme is a peer-to-peer software (P2P) and has been developed to exchange data as efficient as possible. Tribler recognises behavioural patterns and can serve as a intelligent video recorder. You can invite friends with Tribler to a circle of exchange. The invitation is coupled to a identification code by which the invitee gets access to the files of the inviter. It is also possible to offer the files publicly. The software is based on the Choopan Rattanapoka’s Social-Based ABC client, which is the basis of Bittorrent. The official software version 3.3.4 can be downloaded.

The software has already spawned a hardware device, the P2Pod. Through this device of 150 euro the Tribler technology links TV to internet and provides protection for the content. Besides P2P content, the P2Pod receives 1.000 free TV channels and more than 6.000 radio stations, which can be played on TV in stereo. Dutch public television has already announced that it will start experimenting with downloading programs through the p2p network. In the end it will even broadcast live programs through Tribler.

The launch of the software has triggered a discussion about the legality of the P2P software. Bittorrent and Kazaa have legally been pursued and/or forbidden as carriers of illegal content. In the case of Tribler the development of the software has been funded with grants by the Dutch government and the question has been raised whether the Dutch government is aiding software which can be used illegally. The developers of Tribler point to the fact that users have an identification code and can be identified. In fact they argue that they put in safeguards for legal exchange. One of the developers said that users who exchange illegal content through Tribler would be rather stupid to do so: “We will do everything to prevent abuse”. The question is of course whether operators of an academically developed P2P software can manage the network and keep it free of illegal content.

The launch has also yielded an objection as to the distribution costs. It is argued that the Dutch public broadcast by using P2P software for distribution moves the costs for distribution to the providers. P2P cost more data capacity than any other distribution method.


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