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.

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