NTV Live P2P Networking Lunch Recap

“Don’t prepare for your panel!” Liz kept telling me. “Don’t even call it a panel. We want it to be a casual conversation.” Meanwhile, PR folks from the panelists involved kept emailing and calling: “What are you going to talk about on your panel? How can we prepare for it?” No pressure…

No, seriously, it was a lot of fun. Aswhin Navin from BitTorrent, Gaurav Dhillon from Jaman, Gilles BianRosa from Azureus and Bo Wandell from GridNetworks joined me and about 40 other NewTeeVee Live attendees for a casual conversation about the opportunities and obstacles P2P vendors face in the online video space. We talked about DRM, network neutrality, HD and the future of BitTorrent while enjoying our lunch boxes. Here are some of the more interesting tidbits:

Gilles BianRosa told us that Azureus has been experimenting with offering the same video episode encrypted as well as DRM-free. The result: Unprotected content gets requested 10 to 100 times more often than DRM-protected content, regardless of the actual monetization scheme. HD content apparently is equally attractive. People just download shows much more often if they are offered in high definition.

Ashwin Navin repeated his previous criticism of DRM and predicted that the video industry will follow the music biz in abandoning content protection sooner than we might expect. Gaurav Dhillon thought that Windows Media DRM means trouble, but that DRM can be fair — Jaman developed its own DRM system, but would be willing to license Apple’s Fairplay “any day” if it could.

Bo Wandell showed some sympathy for Internet service providers that regulate P2P traffic. GridNetworks wants to work with ISPs to cache content in their local network. The rest of the panel was a little skeptical that many ISPs would sign on for that. Gaurav told us that Jaman decided against using BitTorrent because they wanted to prevent trouble with the ISPs.

Gilles and Ashwin were seriously concerned about network neutrality issues raised by Comcast’s blocking of BitTorrent traffic, but Gilles reminded us that ISPs have been experimenting with traffic shaping for the last 24 months. Azureus keeps responding with technical tweaks as part of a “cat-and-mouse game,” but said he thought there needs to be a policy solution as well. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a policy lunch next year?

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