Blog Post

Wayne Rosso: How Legit P2P Could Be Done Right

Stay on Top of Emerging Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

waynerossoWayne Rosso, the long-time outspoken P2P exec, pulled out of efforts to reformulate The Pirate Bay earlier this week, as first reported by CNET. Swedish public company Global Gaming Factory had announced yet-to-be-executed plans to acquire the enormous legally troubled file sharing site and tracker last month. Rosso explained to us this week that he walked away because, “The the deeper the discussions got with [Global Gaming CEO Hans] Pandeya the more obvious it became that there was a lack of a real plan to move forward.”

Every day there is a new development in The Pirate Bay saga, and none of them bring confidence in the site’s potential to exist long-term. While our aim is not to give him a self-promotional platform, we figured it was worth asking Rosso what exactly it would take to make a legal P2P service work. Turns out Mr. Bombastic has some solid ideas.

Rosso said the allure of TPB’s 20 million file-sharers had already drawn serious interest from major labels in the short time he’d been affiliated with GGF. However a key factor of a successful service, and one that didn’t seem to be an option for The Pirate Bay, would be to switch over from an infringing offering to a non-infringing offering at precisely the moment when new owners take over. If a new owner had to turn off the tracker while prepping an alternative, a huge chunk of users would depart and never come back. And on the flipside, leaving the tracker on under new ownership means assuming its liabilities. Rosso emphasized that a new site owner would have to be rigid about copyright law; any grey area makes the project a non-starter.

To be fair, Rosso has yet to get a licensed P2P startup off the ground, having tried with Grokster, Optisoft and Mashboxx. The big obstacle, he said, was funding. Securing the licenses to launch an authorized music service would cost $20 to $30 million, he said. That’s far more than the $5 million GGF may or may not have on hand.

Launching a legal video file-sharing service, said Rosso, is probably out of the question, because it would require contending with TV licensing processes. He joked that launching an authorized P2P video service would probably cost more than the U.S. economic recovery plan. “The licensing is so complicated, with so many different owners and producers, and so many windows for release in so many regions in the world. You’re talking about a real analog model. It’s such a morass now, I don’t even know if it’s possible.” Besides, added Rosso, the technology for audio filtering is much more advanced.

Lastly, said Rosso, such a service would have to take a smart and consumer-friendly approach to search, discovery and personalization. True enough. But where his theory falls down is that Rosso underestimates the challenge of converting file-sharers to paying customers. Once you start locking up content with DRM, many of those 20 million users won’t even look back.

Will Rosso ever get to live his dream of turning P2P legit? He’s still looking for that opportunity, he said. But he added, “I’m like Groucho Marx, would you want to join a club that would have me as a member?”

9 Responses to “Wayne Rosso: How Legit P2P Could Be Done Right”

  1. You’re welcomed, Roger.

    Now if only some big film/TV studio felt the same way and offered me a fat cushy job helping steer them into the grand future ahead. :-)

    Actually, I had such an offer back in 2003 when I released the white paper but the studio’s CEO or Chairman of the Board (not sure which to this day) had the executive take back the offer. He said the higher-up was afraid it would send the wrong signal to the rest of Hollywood and p2p “pirates”. :-P.

  2. Thanks for the reply Scott,

    Loved the whitepaper twittered it some time back, The market is wide open for first movers in providing the technology to intergrate the web to and from the PC/TV,

    Cant wait for the games to begin, win win for all.

    All the best…

  3. Another player is also DVR recorders. If they have a wireless connection to your computer, they might provide another bridge for TV makers to get ahead of computer monitor makers. I talked to one DVR maker and this is possible right now. The only reason they haven’t offered it is because of fears of being sued by RIAA and MPAA. That’s it. They have the technology right now to have a wireless transmitter that can be plugged into one of your computer’s USB ports and it then communicate with their DVR recorder. I believe it is only a matter of time before a DVR maker takes the gamble to offer something none of his competitors are offering.

  4. Roger, then the Last Dash have been conquered. That’s good for all. And TV makers are already working on making this happen as are computer monitor makers. They’re both now looking at each other as competitors. Who will win out? I really don’t care. All I care about is that it happens. Another player in this battle is video game console makers. They might provide a bridge for some TV makers to get ahead of the computer monitor makers.

  5. @Scott Jensen, The white paper is on point but, what happens to the last dash when TV’s come with an OS with a qwerty remote control, in this instant TV’s become PC’s, the last dash becomes a seemless dash.

    The TV manufacturers will need to provide opensource firmware to stay in the running, or like Nokia and Motorola become a iritating noise.

  6. TimeKeeper

    “The big obstacle, he said, was funding.”

    No – it’s him. He’s over 25. His brain is not wired for the new economy.

    “launching an authorized P2P video service would probably cost more than the U.S. economic recovery plan”

    Yeah, because he can’t get his head around how to do it. Those Herman Miller chairs and fancy cars cost a lot but add no value to the business model.

    “I don’t even know if it’s possible”

    Then stop talking about it. I’ll go on record and predict that there will be at least one company, in the next 12 months, that will be successfully using P2P and Video.

    I’ve seen what some amazing little companies have been working on in the past 24 months with respect to Video and P2P. Some are really close to market and you’ll start seeing what a young group of people with a firm grasp of the new economy can do.

    TK

  7. The key is giving up on making your profit off of CD/download sales of your music but instead viewing p2p as a way of promoting your live concerts. Click on my name. I did a white paper on this in 2003. Still valid.

  8. The Labels are dropping DRM and are prepared to offer a unlimited download service for a monthly subscription fee to stay alive .

    Warner has already sewn up such a deal in the UK where users pay a $25 subscription for a “All you can eat” MP3 downloadservice through Virgin broadband this is where the Digital Fingerprinting tech comes in because they can keep the service in network with :filtering the firngerprinted MP3s and and they can manage the payments to artists either through a collective licencing model or a flat fee .And you dont get sued !!!!!

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124507053748415027.html