After many years of hard work and dedication, Bram Cohen made BitTorrent Live available for public use. The technology behind BT Live is expected to change everything we know about live streaming; to secure its future, the American computer programmer has filed a patent application.
“We plan to shape the future of live broadcasts and want to work with broadcasters to accomplish that,” Cohen said in a statement.
BT Live is unique, in terms of both structure and technology, Cohen said in the patent application that was filed this month.
It was far from easy to come up with this technology, but Cohen’s passion for the complex managed to turn BT Live from dream to fact.
“Doing live streaming well on the Internet has long been a problem. Peer to peer live-streaming has always suffered from high latency, meaning there is typically a lot of delay between when a broadcast happens and when end users see it, typically dozens of seconds or minutes,” Cohen told TorrentFreak.
“BitTorrent Live allows a broadcaster to stream to millions of people with just a few seconds of latency. This is new, and unique, and potentially world-changing.”
The American programmer assures BitTorrent’s community that the patent is not going to restrict users’ access to the new protocol. BT Live will be free to use for both end users and publishers.
“We want people to use and adopt BitTorrent Live. But we aren’t planning on encouraging alternative implementation because it’s a tricky protocol to implement and poorly behaved peers can impact everyone. We want to ensure a quality experience for all and this is the best approach for us to take,” he said.
“To get slightly more technical, the way BitTorrent Live works is by making subsets of peers responsible for subsets of data. High robustness and low latency is achieved by using a screamer protocol between those peers.”
“For the last hop it uses a non-screamer protocol to regain congestion control and efficiency. There is redundancy and some waste in the screaming, but that’s kept under control by only using it to get data to a small fraction of the peers.”
Cohen is confident that BT Live will greatly improve home entertainment, as he believes that television will sooner or later adopt the internet into its infrastructure.
“I believe that inevitably all video streaming will be done over the Internet. It’s simply a better technology for doing so. On a technical level the cable approach is expensive and can only reach subscribers, as opposed to the Internet which can reach anyone,” he told TF.
“So far the one thing cable infrastructure has managed to still do better is live broadcasting. But the BitTorrent Live technology makes it practical to move that to the Internet without being cost prohibitive. We plan to shape the future of live broadcasts and want to work with broadcasters to accomplish that.”
Although BitTorrent is still seen by many as a technology used to infringe copyright, Bram Cohen begs to differ. His struggle to make BitTorrent a reliable and legitimate business goes as far as to make the best of it for both the public and content creators.
In this video, the computer whiz explains not only why BitTorrent will succeed where other file-sharing protocols failed (see the fate of Napster and LimeWire), but also why several huge companies (including Facebook, Twitter, and Wikipedia) rely on peer-to-peer.
On the other side, the music and movie industry, alongside with internet providers involved in the “six-strikes” program, explained their plans for the future at a Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee hearing.
The hearing included a presentation from MPAA’s Senior Vice President Marianne Grant, who explained how the industry plans to gather evidence on illegal file-sharing. On that regard, the MPAA will (mainly) monitor BitTorrent users, as it’s believed that the peer-to-peer protocol is the main source for downloading movies and TV-shows. Grant also explained that the MPAA is planning on sending copyright alerts to “the right subscribers”.
“The thing about BitTorrent is that it’s very efficient at dividing large files up into small pieces and assembling them very quickly on the user’s computer. For film and television it’s by far the best way to get what you want, if you’re interested in that,” she said.
Furthermore, the MPAA will make a list of movies and TV-shows. The list will goto a tracking company (MarkMonitor), that will search for the respective files on torrent portals.
“We don’t want to send a single notice that isn’t a valid notice. We want to make sure that every single one of them is supported by evidence and a robust communication methodology that makes sure that someone couldn’t come from left field, and send one and pretend to be us,” Grant said.
The tracking company is also responsible with establishing whether an alleged infringer is indeed sharing the “flagged” file or not. Once this is established, the gathered evidence will be sent to the ISP. From here on, the internet provider is to send a copyright alert to the subscriber.
Although the industry takes pride into the system’s accuracy, only time will tell whether it will actually work as planned or not.
See Grant’s speech here – starting with minute 25.