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About this Author
Ernest Miller Ernest Miller pursues research and writing on cyberlaw, intellectual property, and First Amendment issues. Mr. Miller attended the U.S. Naval Academy before attending Yale Law School, where he was president and co-founder of the Law and Technology Society, and founded the technology law and policy news site LawMeme. He is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School. Ernest Miller's blog postings can also be found @
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Feel free to contact me about articles, websites and etc. you think I may find of interest. I'm also available for consulting work and speaking engagements. Email: ernest.miller 8T gmail.com

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July 04, 2005

July 03, 2005

July 01, 2005

May 28, 2005

May 25, 2005

Dear Clueless IP Lawfirms: USE RSS!

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Posted by Ernest Miller

The EEJD Blog has put together a wonderful list of IP publications by lawfirms (Intellectual Property Publications by Firm). There are 22 lawfirms with IP-related publications as of this date and, after having checked all these sites, this seems to be a rich resource for IP research and analysis. The sites certainly vary in useability, but there is one consistent failure. Not a single one appears to support RSS!

Hello? I'm not going to sign up for email notification. I'm not going to check your website periodically. If you want the information you're producing to get out there, you have to make it available in a form people can use. Also, if you're trying to impress potential clients with how tech savvy you are, this isn't the way to do it.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: RSS

May 16, 2005

May 13, 2005

April 12, 2004

Follow the (Political) Money - Use the Web

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Posted by Ernest Miller

WIRED has a very interesting article on the various websites that make it easier to track campaign finance in the political system (Following the Money Made Easier). A number of the best websites are cited, such as Fundrace, Political Money Line, and my favorite, Open Secrets.

Worrisome Privacy Issues

Increased transparency in funding is all to the good (especially for larger donors), but I feel a little strange being able to know which of my neighbors have given $100 to Bush or Edwards (no local Kerry fans, apparently). How long will this data be held? Will these websites discourage people from donating to candidates not favored by their neighbors? What effect will this have on our politics?

More Efficient Tracking Desired

Of course, I would love for these websites to become even more efficient. What about email alerts and RSS feeds? You could subscribe to a candidate feed and be notified when they have new donations above a certain limit. You could have geographic feeds and industry feeds. You could track particular donors, especially industries, across a variety of candidates. Bloggers could make excellent use of such feeds.

Fix the Problem of Money in Politics

We really need to reduce the importance of money in politics (it'll never go away entirely). The more we undermine mass media, the better I think. A vast amount of political money is spent on television advertising, if we can change that paradigm with something like broadcatching we would be better off.

Bonus IP issue: The logo for Fundrace is highly reminiscent of Nascar's.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | Privacy | RSS

March 29, 2004

RSS+BitTorrent in Action - Broadcatching Examples & Roundup

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Andrew Grumet reports that broadcatching actually picked up some interesting and unexpected content (March 26, 2004):

When I logged in this morning there was a BitTorrent window open and a copy of Free Culture on my hard drive. Simon put this Creatively Licensed work on LegalTorrents, and the Radio plugin did the rest. What a pleasant surprise! [links in original]

Speaking of LegalTorrents, Grumet also notes that they now have "a music feed, a books feed and a movies feed" (March 28, 2004).

The Blogdigger Development Blog has some interesting updates on their integration of broadcatching. One obvious problem is that promiscuous use of broadcatching can lead to your system trying to download more media than makes sense (Radio and BitTorrent):

So for the second moring in a row, I logged on to my computer and noticed things were a tad sluggish. The culprit: the collection of around 25 BitTorrent sessions that had been initiated from subscribing to the Blogdigger torrents.xml feed! I killed most of the sessions, as they were for things that I was not interested in, but I did keep a few running (like the latest episode of Scrubs!).

Blogdigger is also putting together feeds for different media, including their existing feed for torrents (Blogdigger Media!). As Chris Pirillo says, "All your torrents are belong to us."

Adam Curry notes that it would be great to get the audio version of Larry Lessig's new book, Free Culture, downloaded a chapter every morning (free culture audio boook). More interestingly, Curry points out how, since each chapter of the book is being read by different bloggers, RSS makes a lot of sense for aggregating the spacially diffuse files. He also points to his early writing on the topic of RSS+BitTorrent, RSS: A Cool Web Service, near the bottom of the post.

Digiwar considers some new uses for RSS, including broadcatching (RSS, more then headlines). One cool use of RSS he mentions is a concert notification system, which lets you know when a concert is announced and reminds 30 and 2 days before the concert. Why not add a broadcatching that sends you a copy of the concert the next day or so?

KnowProSE, doesn't have much to say, but his brief comment is an interesting take on the appeal of BitTorrent (All you wanted to know about BitTorrent and were afraid to ask).

As an old school IRCer, I stayed away from Napster, Kazaa and all those other things. But Bittorrent with RSS has a lot of potential, especially for expanding on existing uses.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 24, 2004

RSS, BitTorrent, Broadcatching, Porn, Business Models, and Banned Music

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Everyday it seems that there is something cool and neat in the RSS/BitTorrent/Broadcatching realm. Today is no exception. For example, Brian Clark, proprietor of the excellent Outside the System, suggests two business models for broadcatching.

Additionally, the music hacktivists behind Downhill Battle have launched Banned Music, a website dedicated to distributing unauthorized sampled music mixes such as the infamous Grey Album (About BannedMusic). Without discussing the merits of their concept (see here, here, here, and here for my take on related issues), they have come up with an interesting technology. Since many people haven't yet installed a BitTorrent client, Banned Music wraps their initiating .torrent files in a Nullsoft scriptable installer so that people automatically install the necessary software when they attempt to download the music (A New BitTorrent Downloader). The potential for this approach with regard to broadcatching is apparent.

Read on for all the latest broadcatching news ...

...continue reading.

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 23, 2004

RSSTV Emergency Broadcatching System

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Posted by Ernest Miller

On Saturday, Andrew Grumet announced the release of RssReader 0.4d (RssReader 0.4d). In Andrew's words, "RssReader is TiVo-resident software that displays the contents of an RSS feed on your television." Of course, who the heck really wants to read RSS feeds on television? Sounds like one of those dotcom-era WebTV-like monstrosities. Instead, Andrew notes that "More interestingly, RssReader can schedule recordings from syndication feeds containing RSSTV extensions. This means you can subscribe your TiVo to a community-evolved ToDo list, such as the feed generated by Program My TiVo!" Absolutely, and something I think has amazing potential (RSS for TV, Music).

However, I also think that there is not only a desire for at least some RssReader functionality on television, but important reasons to make it happen. Indeed, perhaps a grant from Homeland Security to Grumet would be in order.

Imagine an RSS feed that would scroll at the bottom of your television display while you watched any other channel, a news ticker if you will. It would be just like the scrolling feeds on the news and financial networks, but would be overlayed on top of whatever you are currently watching. Most importantly, the content would come from an RSS feed.

...continue reading.

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS | Security | Telecomm

March 22, 2004

Broadcatching, RSS+BitTorrent Progress Report and Roundup

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Posted by Ernest Miller

The Dowbrigade News is quite excited by the possibilities of broadcatching (Video Aggregator 1.0).

A broadcatching discussion has been taking place on a Yahoo! BitTorrent group (RSS + BitTorrent = Broadcatching).

Jonathan Schull jumps on the broadcatching bandwagon and points to an RSS torrent feed (As Scott Raymond Foretold).

Dave Brondsema is experimenting with Grumet's work. If it works well, he promises to port it to a Linux client (spring break accomplishments).

Paolo Valdermarin sees potential for videobloggers (Are We Ready for Videoblogging).

realkosh, a self-described "aussie music fan," thinks the broadcatching concept is "excellent" (Promotional music should be free). He also has some interesting things to say comparing music to peanuts:

When was the last time you bought a peanut? Peanuts are something you just get for free. People buy peanuts to give to other people for free. I'm sure there are hundreds of people out there who buy more peanuts for other people than for themselves. Peanuts are just there when you go to your local pub. When you go to a party. Peanut night clubs where the peanut people go.

I like the analogy, but for the record will note that I do buy peanut butter.

Continue reading for many more links...

...continue reading.

Comments (1) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 18, 2004

Broadcatching - The Good, the Bad, the Slashdot

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Thanks to all the recent publicity, Simon Carless reports on his ffwd blog that LegalTorrents, a site for legitimate music torrent files that is experimenting with broadcatching, has given away an additional 300gb of music (broadcatching in the dark fatman ides?). 300gb! I guess broadcatching works.

Outside the System has an interesting analysis of the possibility of micropayments combined with broadcatching (BitTorrent + BitPass: Ethos & Practicalities). Most interestingly, the author goes into some detail regarding the ethos of the concept, what one might also call the social norms.

Now, I'm not a big fan of micropayments, but I think there might well be a market for certain Big Media Objects (BMOs) if the payment isn't too small. For example, the author imagines films being made available through this method for $2-3. I could certainly see this sort of payment making sense for a series, such as the awesome Red vs. Blue, where you buy an entire season for, say, $5-20. Of course, a subscription model for all-you-can eat content *cough*music*cough* might be a very good model as well.

The best part of the piece though is the analysis of the ethos of BitTorrent and payments:

Does this mean that there is a common ground between independents and the BitTorrent community that allows for the introduction of transactions into the equation? There very might well be, and there seems to be little technical barrier in experimenting and seeing firsthand. It might even be a common ground that traditional media companies and the artists they distribute don't/can't/won't share, making this an emerging system ripe for independent adoption over corporate adoption. There are also tantalizing questions I still have about how this microtransaction model could interact with the tracker also running on that webserver -- the potential to allow fans to favor those "in the club" versus "outside the club" at the peering level, which could reinforce the idea that the independent media creator and their Internet fans are all in this together.

This is something that I have been thinking a great deal about and I think that there is something quite interesting here. I believe that a well-designed market using broadcatching would encourage cooperation between creators and consumers, turning distribution into a collaborative effort. Sure, corporations could play this game, but independents could be on an almost equal footing, both would have consumers as their partners. I'm still thinking about the possibilities here, but I think they may be one of the most significant aspects of broadcatching. Broadcatching could be much more than what the Hollywood Liberation Army calls "the holy grail of a profitable business model for independent movie-makers on the web" (BitTorrent, BitPass & Outside the System).

Unlimited Freedom has some interesting comments about the whole broadcatching concept (BitTorrent and Broadcatching). Most of his post concerns what he sees as various drawbacks of the BitTorrent protocol. While he makes some good points, overall I don't think they really undermine the broadcatching paradigm.

BT differs from other P2P systems in the algorithm that it uses to distribute data. That's what makes it work so well for large files. But there's no reason P2P networks couldn't be enhanced to use that algorithm. If they did so, they would be SUPERIOR to BT for almost every purpose.
No longer would you have to find a .torrent file host to download data. No longer would someone have to do something special and act as a seeder - they could just put the data file into their P2P shared directory and it would be available to the world. No longer would you have to beg people to keep their BT clients (instances of which are specific to the file being downloaded) running after the download finishes, scolding them about being "leechers" if they don't upload at least as much as they downloaded.

Actually, some P2P programs already implement versions of swarm download protocols. However, that doesn't mean they are necessarily superior to BitTorrent. In particular, the advantage of broadcatching is that you have RSS feeds letting people know when fresh content is available. Consequently, you are more likely to have people hitting the .torrent file shortly thereafter, which makes the whole swarm download thing work better. With other forms of P2P, even if you get an RSS notification of fresh content, you'll have to wait for that content to diffuse through the P2P network. Even for very popular files this might take hours or days. With broadcatching, because of the centralization of the seeding server, content diffuses as quickly as the RSS feed.

There is also a question of search horizon for large media objects with normal P2P. The most popular files would be available in the local P2P network, but less popular files would be more difficult to find. Centralized seeding servers mean that the search horizon is virtually infinite. Moreover, you might not get much swarm download benefit for less popular files with normal P2P, but a centralized seeding service would aggregate even widely dispersed interest in less popular files.

The question of leechers is an issue, but since broadcatching would be mostly automated (update RSS, check for new files, initiate BitTorrent for new files), chances are the defaults could be set to let the BitTorrent application run fairly regularly in the background.

Undoubtedly, there are improvements that can be made to the protocols, especially with regard to usability for the average consumer. Those advances will come with time.

Slashdot has actually covered the BitTorrent & RSS concept before (RSS & BT Together?), but the latest is probably the most interesting as the concept begins to sink in (RSS And BitTorrent, Together At Last). Below are a couple of interesting comments:

Bah

People keep trying to make BitTorrent something it isn't. And really, we should be fighting its corporate adoption in any form, as it's simply an attempt to shift server bandwidth costs to the client. ISPs eat that right now, but we're going to metered access if this keeps up.
Which is effectively getting us to pay for website access/services, but instead of giving the money to the content creators we'll be giving it to ISPs instead and paying in bandwidth besides. So this is a bad idea.

Hack your TiVo for fansubs

The way I figure it, with this bittorrent-RSS combination and a slight modification of torrent watching sites like animesuki [animesuki.com] we will essentially have a fansubbed anime online tivo at our disposal. Actually, you could have probably done that even without RSS, though it does simplify matters. The only limitations are our bandwidth and hard drives. Which actually are pretty limiting these days, especially with p2p being frequently capped.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 16, 2004

RSS + BitTorrent Roundup - Broadcatching Isn't MS Active Channels

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Posted by Ernest Miller

WIRED publishes an article that does a good job of summarizing the potentials of RSS + BitTorrent (Speed Meets Feed in Download Tool):

A demo publishing system launched Friday by a popular programmer and blogger merges two of this season's hottest tech fads -- RSS news syndication and BitTorrent file sharing -- to create a cheap publishing system for what its author calls "big media objects." The hybrid system is meant to eliminate both the publisher's need for fat bandwidth, and the consumer's need to wait through a grueling download.

The author of the WIRED article, Paul Boutin writes on his blog that "Those of you who remember Microsoft Active Channels and Netscape Whatever it Was Called, take note" (RSS + BitTorrent = ?). There are definitely similarities between broadcatching and MS Active Channels, but the differences are more significant. Broadcatching gets the whole channel concept right.

The most important difference is that an Active Channel provider has to provide all the bandwidth for the content they are sending. For large media objects this can quickly become rather expensive, relegating music or video channels to those who can afford substantial bandwidth (such as large media companies). In comparison, BitTorrent is specifically designed to share bandwidth costs for making large media objects available. RSS announcement of the availability increases the liklihood of more simultaneous users, thus decreasing the bandwidth costs of the seeder substantially. This means that anyone's content can be broadcatched, not just those of major media companies.

The main problem for Active Channels, however, was that there were few tools for ordinary folk to use to create their own channel. Sure, anyone could create a channel, but there was no blog software that made it easy to publish channels automatically. Consequently, Active Channels were dominated by the major media companies, who didn't necessarily use any standard format for sending content to users nor did they necessarily take user needs into account (such as not sending so many ads). One user feature that was definitely lacking was the concept of an aggregator. Switching between channels was more akin to clicking on a bookmark than looking at a list of feeds (as in a news aggregator) to see what has been updated. Generally, Active Channels meant that bookmarked webpages could have more annoying "interactive! (tm)" content.

In related news, Grumet has written up more about his implementation of broadcatching here: Experimenting with BitTorrent and RSS 2.0. In his description of the initial implementation, he has a very clear depiction of why this is darn neat:

What makes this interesting
First, RSS and BitTorrent complement each other naturally. RSS was designed to report freshly available content, which is exactly where BitTorrent shines. RSS 2.0 enclosures were designed to automate the download process that BitTorrent optimizes.
Second, combining the two should reduce the barrier to entry for small broadcasters. While not a new idea, video blogging has always borne a bandwidth cost. Combining BitTorrent's cost savings with widely available RSS emitting tools should, for example, make it possible for a small group of motivated people across the world to create their own news channel.

Simon Carless of Slashdot has a short article on the O'Reilly Network touting his work with Andrew Grumet on making broadcatching real by making RSS+BitTorrent feeds available at LegalTorrents (RSS and BitTorrent, Sitting in a Tree...). He has some valuable notes for others interested in joining the revolution.

Map the Way has this to say (Combining RSS and BitTorrent What Andrew Grumet has done!):

With modern production tools, the biggest problem for amateur and professional moviemakers is no longer producing video, but delivering it to the intended audience.

Trevor F Smith wonders about the serendipity of it all (Small screen, big net):

[Is it] a coincidence that the morning after I ordered a TV tuner for our iMac that my RSS daily update revealed a cross-blog conversation about RSS, bittorrent, and PVRs combining to create a nice web of user contributed video feeds[?]

Steve Gillmor, one of the earliest proponents of RSS+BitTorrent (BitTorrent and RSS Create Disruptive Revolution) expresses his surprise that RSS aggregators is as widely adopted within Microsoft as it is (about 15%) (Your Winnings, Sir). As usual, he has some perceptive things to say about the capabilities of RSS:

This [ubiquity of small consumable, searchable XHTML fragments] runs directly counter to Microsoft's preservation of Word document formats by European and New Zealand patents. It explains why there's still no InfoPath freely redistributable runtime--you gotta buy a ticket for enterprise workflow and form routing--and why Microsoft doesn't want to seed a poor-man's BizTalk server around RSS alerts. And let's not forget RSS/BitTorrent enclosures, which offer a DRM-free standard for peer-to-peer content exchange and publishing years before Longhorn locks down those ports.

For more information on Broadcatching, see also:
BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast
Broadcatching - Not Broadcasting
Broadcatching - The Early Days
RSS + BitTorrent Announcement Soon?
BitTorrent, RSS and Broadcatching, Catching On
First Broadcatching App Available! (And Related News)
Broadcatching Roundup
RSS, BitTorrent and Broadcatching for Courts

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | RSS

March 15, 2004

RSS, BitTorrent and Broadcatching for Courts

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Posted by Ernest Miller

The Shifted Librarian, an RSS maven if ever there was one, has a short post on the use of broadcatching for library archives (RSS Feeds for Internet Archive Collections). This reminded me of a concept that I worked on several years ago ... a distributed database of legal information, decisions, journals, etc.

The basic idea was that every law library in the country would have locally stashed copies of every court decision. Court decisions would have been published into a network of massively redundant distributed databases with nodes at every law library. The system was actually a bit complex (but cool, using Jini and stuff). The Shifted Librarian's post reminded me of this concept and I thought, "why not use broadcatching to send full decisions (or articles) to everyone who wanted copies of court decisions (or law journals)?"

RSS is already used by some of the smarter courts to keep lawyers, clerks and assorted legal professionals current on court decisions, rules changes and related matters. The highly innovative Rory Perry, Clerk of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia, was the first to recognize this potential and has been providing RSS feeds for his court since May 2002 (Syndication and Weblogs: Publish and Distribute Your Court Information to the Web).

The feeds that Rory provides are great, but they don't include the full decisions - only summaries. You could use RSS enclosures, but providing full decisions to hundreds or thousands of recipients might tax bandwidth. BitTorrent to the rescue, of course. Why shouldn't every law library, law firm or other interested party broadcatch copies of every court decision published?

Of course, this only solves the problem of distribution. For law to truly be free, you'll need open standards for court decisions and nearly complete databases among other things, but this could be a major step forward. The potential uses for this technology continue to grow.

For more information on Broadcatching, see also:
BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast
Broadcatching - Not Broadcasting
Broadcatching - The Early Days
RSS + BitTorrent Announcement Soon?
BitTorrent, RSS and Broadcatching, Catching On
First Broadcatching App Available! (And Related News)
Broadcatching Roundup

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | Open Access | RSS

March 13, 2004

Broadcatching Roundup

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Techdirt discusses how the mainstream press doesn't really seem to understand BitTorrent and is missing out on how much potential the system has (Distributed File Sharing Systems Learning From BitTorrent).

Broadband Reports also sees broadcatching as a potential disruptive technology (RSS & Bit Torrent: Content distribution gets interesting):

While illegal ideas abound, such as the instant download of every South Park episode the second it hits the net, the idea lends itself to a great number of ideas that could turn traditional distribution models on their heads, giving smaller operations a new opportunity for content distribution.

Teldar Paper, a Swedish blog in English, imagines BitTorrent and RSS as part of a nationwide, perhaps global, always-on grid (Living in always online land).

Prophecy Boy can't wait to see who the RIAA will sue first over a BitTorrent + RSS merger (RSS+BT = fun4all).

UPDATE

Random Rants has several posts following RSS + BitTorrent. See, P2P meets BitTorrent, Ye olde RSS & BitTorrent debate and RSS, BitTorrent & Tivo.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 12, 2004

First Broadcatching App Available! (And Related News)

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Andrew Grumet, who has been the leader in developing BitTorrent + RSS technology, has announced the arrival of the "an initial version of a RSS+BitTorrent integration tool for Radio Userland's news aggregator" (Announcement: RSS+BitTorrent Integrator for Radio Userland). Visit the project website here: Getting started with BitTorrent + RSS in Radio [BETA]. Grumet promises to write more about the idea in the coming days and asks for bug reports, comments and etc., here.

Damn the luck! I'm not a Radio Userland user - just might have to become one.

In related news, David Shipp writes about Chris Pirillo's IT Conversations interview (Chris Pirillo: March 1, 2004) in which Chris discusses the concept of BitTorrent + RSS (Future Web). Shipp summarizes thus:

Chris goes on to talk about the fusion of RSS and BitTorrent. This is where things get interesting and controversial. BitTorrent is an excellent technology for P2P downloads, and one of it’s emergent properties is that newly available files become widely available through BitTorrent far quicker than on traditional P2P networks. The disadvantage is that users have to trawl the web for BitTorrent pointer files that direct them to the downloads. He suggests that RSS can provide the delivery mechanism for these BitTorrent links, so for example, users can be presented with links to all the new episodes of their favourite TV series. Chris steps away from the legalities of the issue, and rightly so, but highlights the concept that RSS + BitTorrent is essentially a TiVo (or Sky+ for my fellow British).

Lucas Gonze is working on what I consider another element of broadcatching, RSS + Playlist Format, which he is calling RSS + Time (Analysis of RSS+Time as a playlist format). Exactly. Wouldn't it be great if one could receive a playlist from a trusted source in RSS format? The playlist would automatically play the songs already available on your system and launch a BitTorrent download of those not available.

Bonus: the RSS+Time format includes some primitive client-side remixing capability. I like to call this a remixing "recipe" (A History Palette for Music and The Grey Album - No Copying Necessary).

C|Net News reports on the public unveiling of Red Swoosh, a new P2P entrant which has adopted BitTorrent-like technology for distribution of large files for commercial companies (Legal P2P networks gaining ground):

In part, that's why the company's CEO is now reaching out to the broad community of people using BitTorrent, an underground file-trading application using similar technology that has exploded in popularity among people distributing or downloading video and software programs.
Red Swoosh CEO Travis Kalanick said he wants to tap that energy. He's offering free use of Red Swoosh's content distribution services to noncommercial filmmakers, game developers or other publishers.
"I don't want to fight BitTorrent," Kalanick said. "I want to have a relationship with that community. That's not just about cutting a deal; you have give to that community."

Interesting. I'll have to give a try (I hope they don't use spyware). Wonder when they will adopt broadcatching?

For more information on Broadcatching, see also:
BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast
Broadcatching - Not Broadcasting
Broadcatching - The Early Days
RSS + BitTorrent Announcement Soon?
BitTorrent, RSS and Broadcatching, Catching On

Comments (2) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 10, 2004

BitTorrent, RSS and Broadcatching, Catching On

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Bad pun, I know. So sue me.

Today I've come across a couple of posts relating to the revolutionary idea of Broadcatching, that is, using RSS and BitTorrent as a new distribution channel.

A new blog, Outside the System, authored by an indie media producer, discusses in detail how broadcatching could be an alternate distribution channel for movies (BitTorrent + RSS = Broadcatching):

These margins and the edges of cost and value are a hamper on the real blossoming of video distribution on the Web, and can only be aggregated so far out of the way. P2P swarming technology is the only current viable route to break that stalemate by spreading at least part of the costs away from your own bandwidth pipe, but under a system like BitTorrent that's only really useful if there are a lot of people with fully download copies to swarm from (so you have a classic tipping point model of efficiency.) Promotion preceeds adoption preceeds efficiency.
The brilliance of an RSS approach, though, is that it builds in at least two important features that BitTorrent alone doesn't address. First, it provides a method of propogation through editorial filters -- a successful editor picking new BitTorrent works could help create an instant rush to the tipping point, in the process decreasing the cost of bandwidth on each copy. Second, it turns BitTorrent into a subscription system, one where your system automatically collects new content of a large size overnight (for example.)

Read the post for a concrete example of how expensive traditional internet distribution is and how broadcatching can alleviate this problem.

The film used as an example, because the author of the post executive produced it, is Nothing So Strange , which documents the aftermath of the assassination of Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates on December 2, 1999. Bonus cool factor: Bill Gates Assassination Film Goes "Open Source," Releases "Evidence" DVD:

"Nothing So Strange" will be released under a license that allows all of the "source" footage of the movie to be used without restriction, in personal or commercial projects, but keeps the actual film as created by the filmmaker under copyright. "You have free access to all the parts of the movie," said Flemming. "But you can't just copy our version of it--you have to make your own original work with the various parts."

Waxy.org pointed me to a collection of links to blogs that post MP3 files (mp3 blogs/rotation etc.). For example:

Could it be more obvious that MP3 blogs would benefit from broadcatching?

For more information on Broadcatching, see also:
BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast
Broadcatching - Not Broadcasting
Broadcatching - The Early Days
RSS + BitTorrent Announcement Soon?

Comments (3) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Blogging and Journalism | Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

Infoworld's RSS Tipping Point

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Infoworld's Chad Dickerson blogs about RSS becoming more popular than HTTP for Infoworld readers (RSS tipping point):

Ever since we began publishing RSS feeds at InfoWorld, the requests for our home page had always exceeded requests for our Top News RSS feed. Not any more. Over the past several weeks, requests for InfoWorld's Top News RSS feed have regularly exceeded the requests for our home page. This has been going on long enough now that we're certain that it's permanent. I think it's a big deal.

See also, Doc Searls (Publishing 2.0).

RSS, good stuff.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: RSS

March 08, 2004

RSS + BitTorrent Announcement Soon?

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Posted by Ernest Miller

On Dave Winer's test site there is this notice (Dear Bay Area friends...):

PS: Murphy-willing Andrew Grumet will have something exciting to announce that connects RSS with another nominee, in the same category: BitTorrent. We're very excited about combining syndication with BMO's. It would be cool to make the announcement on the day of the award ceremony [WIRED Rave Awards], March 15.
PPS: BMO stands for Big Media Object.

Comments (0) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Broadcatching/Podcasting | File Sharing | RSS

March 06, 2004

Broadcatching - The Early Days

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Andrew Grumet is blogging about the practical steps towards making BitTorrent and RSS work together and some of the issues involved (BitTorrent + RSS, step 1). One of the interesting problems of development is getting the client software to behave properly with regard to this new concept:

BT has a nice command line interface, btw. We need to feed it appropriate --responsefile and --saveas arguments. An open question, at least on Windows, is dealing with client software that spawns windows who don't know how to close themselves. Ideally we'd have a client that didn't spawn a window and that accepted a parameter that told it how long to continue running after completion of the download, to help other downloaders.

This is important, but I think it is a bigger problem than this. Ultimately, for the new broadcatch to be successful, the client will also have to integrate closely with the playback software (your DivX software, MP3 player, etc.). A proper user interface is going to be critical. TiVo would be a great place to start, but it is designed around the traditional broadcast paradigm and would need some serious changes to handle this concept.

BitTorrent + RSS will be revolutionary, but there is a lot of work to get from the concept to user-friendly implementation. For example, when the internet was in the early days, everyone was excited about the prospect of everyone making their own homepages. Great idea, poor implementation, as traditional webpages were too difficult to maintain and there was no RSS to make following changes easy. Today, blogs are a much better implementation of the homepage concept. Today, we aren't even at the homepage stage of BitTorrent + RSS.

In related news, I'm not the only one who thinks this is a great idea, Dave Winer had this to say:

After dinner, walking back to my car, Andrew Grumet told me that he planned to integrate BitTorrent with RSS. A namespace, a couple of Radio callbacks, and it should work. I'm in awe.

The Shifted Librarian is also enthusiastic (Waiting for SyndiCon I):

The RSS Winterfest was a good start, but it's difficult to over-emphasize the value of this type of conversation taking place in-person, face-to-face. In addition, how great would it be to include an "RSS Hackfest" (led by Andrew Grumet) to get us BitTorrent + RSS, authentication, better customization, metadata, and more?!

For more information, see also:
BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast
Broadcatching - Not Broadcasting

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March 03, 2004

Broadcatching - Not Broadcasting

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Posted by Ernest Miller

Yesterday I wrote about the incredible potential of combining RSS with BitTorrent for video (or any broadcast media for that matter) (BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast).

Had I done a little more digging before I posted, however, I would have found a couple of other really great posts on the issue from a couple of months ago. Great minds come up with similar titles, as I note a post with an almost identical title from PVR Blog (BitTorrent + RSS = TiVo). However, I think the potential here outstrips even the disruption capabilities of TiVo. That led me to Scott Raymond's excellent post on the subject from last December (Broadcatching with BitTorrent). I especially liked (because it seems so apt) the use of the term "broadcatching" to describe this new method of distribution.

Such a system would be an excellent basis for a subscription-based service. Hint (Thoughts on the EFF P2P Solution White Paper) hint.

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March 02, 2004

BitTorrent + RSS = The New Broadcast

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Posted by Ernest Miller

I've touted Andrew Grumet's work before (Program My TiVo! and RSS For TV, Music) and once again I have to recommend paying attention to what he is up to. See his post, Skirting the edges of the new media universe:

Chris Pirillo feeds a new addiction. If I understand correctly, the idea is that the RSS feeds give you a list of fresh downloads in your newsreader. Click on what you want, and shortly thereafter the video is on your hard drive. Maybe we aren't too far from giving Dowbrigade StrongBad in his Video Aggregator. We'd need an automated way to launch BitTorrent when new items arrive in the feed. I don't know, maybe people are doing this already. We'd also need specialized feeds so that we wouldn't have to download everything.

Read the whole thing.

I really think there is something interesting here. Isn't RSS + BitTorrent an ideal means to distribute periodic video content? Subscribing to a particular series' RSS feed would be like setting up a Season Pass on your TiVo. As episodes are released, no matter the time, your system would automatically begin a BitTorrent download. Video RSS feeds for every taste would be available. You're a fan of Sarah Michelle Gellar? Get the SMG RSS feed and you won't miss a single video appearance of her buffy-ness promoting Scooby Doo 2.

Who will be the first video network to adopt this technology?

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February 27, 2004

Program My TiVo!

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Posted by Ernest Miller

A couple of weeks ago, I posted on an innovative new RSS format for Personal Media Recorders, such as the TiVo (RSS for TV, Music). Imagine an RSS feed that would program your TiVo. Now, Andrew Grumet, the developer of this great idea, has implemented a web-based version: Program My TiVo!.

This is great. I would love to have an easy means by which my friends and family could set up something to be recorded for me. My brother and I are always telling each other to record certain programs via TiVo. This would save all the forgetting and stuff.

via PVRBlog

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