Verizon pushes legal peer-to-peer, labels mull piracy surcharge


— 3:04 PM on March 14, 2008

While some internet service providers are trying to discourage users from using peer-to-peer file sharing, a new initiative by Verizon Communications would actually encourage the company's customers to use software like BitTorrent—at least legally. As the Associated Press reports, Verizon has collaborated with file-sharing software makers and Yale University researchers to develop a system it calls P4P.

The premise behind P4P is simple: boost speeds for the users and cut costs for the Internet service providers. How, you might ask? The AP explains, "In a traditional P2P network, if a Verizon customer downloads a file, only 6.3 percent of the data will come from another Verizon customer in the same city, said Doug Pasko, senior technologist at the company. In the 'P4P' trial, 58 percent of the data came from nearby Verizon users, vastly reducing the company's cost of carrying the traffic."

According to Robert Levitan, the CEO of legal file-sharing firm Pando Networks, Verizon's P4P technology could be ready next month—just as NBC plans to make its TV shows available for free through Pando's peer-to-peer software. P4P can apparently cut the cost of disseminating those show by 75 to 90%.

In related news, Wired reports that the music industry is starting to like the sound of a potential "file-sharing surcharge" collected by Internet service providers that would account for lost sales from piracy. The idea is being promoted by Jim Griffin, a digital strategy consultant for three of the big four record companies. Griffin believes collecting an extra $5 per user per month from ISPs could compensate songwriters, performers, publishers, and record labels for lost sales. The mony would be split based on the popularity of songs on peer-to-peer networks.

   
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