Can P2P change media distribution? Manu Sporny — CEO of Digital Bazaar, which runs a legal online digital content distribution and sales network — says it can, for the benefit of both consumers and creators.
In an in-depth essay on his blog, Sporny lays out a compelling argument for the use of P2P technology to fundamentally change the marketpace for digital media, mainly by using technology to cut out expensive facets like advertising and mass-media distribution methods. But Sporny’s plan will be a tough row to hoe, since big-time content providers will likely be wary to take the plunge into P2P without some proven success stories of a similar scale to their projects.
While Sparny has the concept (Collaborative Content Distribution) and the tool (Bitmunk) to make P2P distribution happen, for success he needs to convince content providers that they “…must start offering their content to more than just the cable providers. Exclusivity is no longer in the best interest of the content creators.”
Right now, most of Bitmunk’s content partners are small- or no-label musicians — to whom any distribution method is worth the risk because the alternative is not selling anything. Distributing bigger fare legally via P2P, such as a television show or movie, would be a whole new ballgame because of the risk on such a large investment and traditional distribution agreements hinging on exclusivity.
Still, it’s an exciting new way to look at how content creators could bypass middlemen like network broadcasters to offer content directly to their audience. If thorny problems like how to effectively promote new material offered through the service, how to manage the expectations of providers who want DRM or other restrictions, and how to build the user base into a large enough pool of potential customers can be overcome, many aspects of Sporny’s vision could become reality.