BitTorrent has been getting somewhat of a bad rap. Although BitTorrent itself sells copyrighted content over its P2P file sharing protocol, the service has become better known for less than legal downloads from sites like “The Pirate Bay”. It has been particularly popular for pirating because it easily distributes the cost of transmitting files across the network of users downloading the file.
Now BitTorrent is taking another try at legal torrenting by applying the power of peering to content its partners want to be shared, free files and streaming video. The new service, BitTorrent DNA (Delivery Network Accelerator), uses torrents to assist in sharing these files with their users. It effectively creates a virtual network of viewers’ computers that will share amongst themselves to speed up downloads for popular files from your servers.
The peering arrangement sounds a lot like what BitTorrent currently does, share large files amongst many user. DNA’s big difference, however, is that it does this more transparently. Viewers don’t need to search for tracking files and deal with a torrent download manager, but instead simply install a new BitTorrent client (around 330 K) that handles everything when they come to a DNA enabled site. For example, when you’re on a site and halfway through watching a movie or downloading a file, DNA shares these files behind the scenes with other users that need it too. If you’re concerned about sharing being too much of a drag on your bandwidth, you can go into your control panel and shut off the “download acceleration”.
The main selling point is that BitTorrent should reduce your bandwidth costs, meaning publishers can hold on to more of their ad revenue. The savings is expected to be pretty significant, with BitTorrent saying their customers can shift as much as 80% of their content delivery to the P2P network. Brightcove, one of their launch partners, will be using the peering technology to serve their high bandwidth video content for a new product, “Brightcove Show“.
By teaming up with BitTorrent, Brightcove hopes to take on Joost by allowing its network of Web video publishers to stream broadcast-quality, full-screen videos (possibly even up to HD-quality) without the need for a separate, walled-garden application. The videos will just stream directly from the Web, with bits being pulled from other people’s computers who have the BitTorrent DNA client and have watched a particular video, combined with bits delivered from the Limelight content-delivery network when there aren’t enough BitTorrent peers available to do the job.