BitTorrent Live Streaming Protocol Launched

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TV, Video © Ensuper Shutterstock 2012

The peer-to-peer streaming platform could change live video as we know it

BitTorrent, the US company responsible for the eponymous peer-to-peer sharing protocol that has become the bane of copyright holders around the world, has launched a live streaming service that could revolutionise the way we consume video online.

The long-rumoured BitTorrent Live is a platform that does away with the issues of buffering and democratises streaming by cutting down on video bandwidth and hosting costs. It uses the familiar P2P structure to distribute the load among users and take the pressure off the broadcaster.

BitTorrent Live is currently in open Beta, and available for testing.

Real-time

With traditional steaming technologies, the quality of the video degrades as more viewers tune in. Big audiences need a lot of bandwidth to support them, and events like the Royal Wedding or Olympics require huge investments into infrastructure, something that is only feasible for a few companies.

P2P © kentoh Shutterstock 2012In contrast, with BitTorrent Live, the quality and reliability of the broadcast actually improves every time a new viewer connects, since every new viewer becomes a miniature broadcaster and “amplifies” the stream.

“It’s based on the principles of the BitTorrent protocol. And it’s designed to make real-time reporting, and open expression available to all: eliminating bandwidth, cost, and infrastructure as broadcast barriers,” developer Justin Knoll told TorrentFreak.

With BitTorrent Live, anyone can create a resilient video stream that would be instantly accessible by thousands of people around the world. Watching video requires users to install the BitTorrent Live app, but potential broadcasters will have to open an account too.

The service is currently in beta, and will need some polish. It wouldn’t launch in Opera, and would frequently crash in Firefox, but nevertheless, at the time of writing, there were 13 working streams, broadcasting everything from traffic cameras to B Movies.

“We’ve demonstrated scaling and improved stability during our invite-only period, and are excited to open our service up to anyone who wants it. Thanks to all our early users for their support,” said Bram Cohen, the author of the BitTorrent protocol.

Meanwhile in the UK, three more BitTorrent trackers have been blocked by ISPs as a result of a lawsuit filed by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), a group which represents music copyright holders.

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