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BitTorrent P2P Trackers on The Move

UPDATED: BitTorrent-based services are picking up steam this year, thanks to hosted torrent services from a number of vendors and the new eXeem P2P torrent-based application.

EXeem is a new P2P entity that utilizes the torrent protocol for its service, which was launched on Friday with its 0.20 public beta. The same people who used to operate the Torrent directory site Suprnova.org, which was shut down last year, are behind the new effort.

BitTorrent directories like Suprnova.org and LokiTorrent had been the target of legal challenges because they allegedly contain copyrighted materials that were being illegally distributed. EXeem is owned and operated by Swarm Systems. An eXeem/Swarm Systems spokesperson was not available for comment at press time.

The eXeem model differs from Suprnova.org in that it is its own network, much like Kazaa, rather than an open directory of available torrents.

BitTorrent has become a successful P2P technology, allowing users to more rapidly share large files. Instead of one single file download, the BitTorrent protocol separates the file into multiple chunks, which are then shared and downloaded via multiple sources. The system also is set up so that while the user is downloading a file, they are sharing it at the same time by uploading chunks they've already downloaded to others in the torrent swarm.

In order to share the files though a torrent, a "tracker" file is needed, which isn't always easy to set up, find or host. A new type of torrent hosting service has emerged to help service that need. Fremont, Calif.-based ISP Hurricane Electric and Web hosting service Prodigem are now offering a place for users to host their torrent trackers. Both services claim to make it easier for users to publish and host their torrent trackers with their respective services.

Benny Ng, Hurricane Electric's director of marketing, told internetnews.com that by adding BitTorrent as a feature, it allows its clients to do things they were not able to do before.

"For example, they will be able to distribute a film they produced, or distribute portions of a game they wrote, without paying a huge bandwidth bill," Ng explained. "We were already hosting content; hosting via BitTorrent is a natural extension for us."

Prodigem is based on the open source GPL licensed by the Monsoon Project. Prodigem founder Gary Lerhaupt noted that his service is heavily modified to provide all the additional features and account access. Lerhaupt intends for Prodigem to be used by anyone who wants to distribute any type of open media, including bloggers and podcasters.

"I think there is demand because of the budding movement of the independent media producer. With podcasters and videobloggers quickly becoming established, they need new types of bandwidth solutions," Lerhaupt told internetnews.com. "And since bloggers really take to community-oriented approaches, BitTorrent really fits well."

Lerhaupt noted that in reality, Prodigem is like any other hosting service in that it has a notice of DMCA compliance and it follows the standard procedures should any user post improperly licensed material.

He explained that currently Prodigem only allows users to tag content as having the Creative Commons license, but other licenses and options will be added in the future.

"Suprnova's popularity was borne out of its distribution of illegal media, so I certainly wouldn't want that moniker," Lerhaupt said. "Prodigem certainly looks to aid and blow up along with the snowball movement of free culture and independent and openly licensed content."