When You're Competing Against Free, 'Usability Problems' Won't Help

from the why-buy-the-cow dept

The boys over at BitTorrent have been forced into the role of adept politicans of late, as they try to cuddle up to the entertainment industry and prep for the launch of a legit video store. To shake off the piracy stigma, they’ve spent the year conducting an image makeover in the press, offering interviews to pretty much everybody. The legitimization effort has included such terminology tweaks as ditching the term “p2p” (they now call it “peer assisted” or “peer distributed”). That’s why it’s interesting to see BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen slamming DRM in an interview just ahead of the launch of a DRM-laden video store. “We’re very concerned about the usability problems DRM introduces,” insists Cohen, “and are educating our content partners about the lost commercial opportunity.” In the same interview, Cohen admits a big chunk of the videos that will be offered at first will be Windows Media DRM protected. Investors should be thrilled: they’ve just doled out $20 million for a video store that plans to offer content with “usability problems”, that only works on Windows, in a market where that same content is already available for free via their own software. On top of that, a growing number of ISPs have been throttling BitTorrent. Cohen’s suggestion has been for ISPs to cache content on their networks instead of throttling traffic, but with so many ISPs also in the video business, it’s unlikely they’ll be motivated to cooperate.

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