RealTime IT News

File-Sharing with a DRM Twist

Swedish file-sharing technology firm Joltid on Friday released PeerEnabler, a P2P content distribution platform that promises to piggyback on users' bandwidth to cut down on server expenses for content distributors.

Joltid, a brainchild of the founders of the controversial Kazaa software, said the new platform was build on its P2P Networking engine which makes use of idle bandwidth to distribute files from third-party firms to other users.

"For software developers and content publishers, PeerEnabler will greatly increase and broaden the services available and reduce the cost for content distribution," the company said in a statement.

Joltid co-founder Niklas Zennstrom said PeerEnabler was equipped with stronger security than traditional server-based distribution platforms since all files processed are digitally signed to prevent tampering.

Worried that users might not be too happy about sharing bandwidth to benefit third-party content providers and software firms, the company maintained the user's PC processor and bandwidth would not be used for widespread content distribution. Instead, Peer Enabler users would be allowed to "control the behavior" of the P2P software.

"P2P Networking will never use more than a small fraction of disk space for cache," the company said in a privacy notice posted on its Web site. "P2P Networking is designed to not interfere with your use of your bandwidth. End users [will] not notice the application is running in other ways than increased service level when downloading files," Joltid added.

The plan is to market Peer Enabler to firms looking for a secure way to distribute movies, music, multimedia content or even software to a mass audience and, in the same breath, save on bandwidth expenses.

The sales pitch from Joltid is that the natural load balancing in PeerEnabler would ensure content distribution even during peak downloads, such as after a new video release. "There is also no trade off between the popularity of a file and its size, the PeerEnabler is better suited the more popular the file is and the bigger it is."

To target Web publishers, Joltid has set up the P2P software to be fitted into a Web site. "The original file is published on the existing Web server as a fallback, and the new PeerEnabler platform allows the file to propagate to the peer-to-peer network. The bandwidth consumption of the Web server is therefore reduced significantly," the company said.

PeerEnabler has a DRM twist because it lets a publisher digitally sign the Web content that's available for distribution. On the Web, links to products to be distributed via PeerEnabler would be replaced with a Java script to address the file.

Joltid said installer plug-ins had been added for DRM-protected software distribution, again promising to limit bandwidth costs and improve download speeds for end users.