Tuesday, November 22, 2005

A business model for bittorrent

Seeing the teaser post on boingboing today got me thinking about how a commercial business could be built around bittorrent. Maybe this is exactly what they will announce, but how about:

Use bittorrent as part of a pyramid scheme, with a secure commercial tracker, run by the studios. Files would cost an amount - let's say $5, to download. Then, as your seeding ratio increased, the amount of money the downloader owed would go down - let's say a dollar per integer (ie when your ratio exceeed 1, your cost would be $4, when it is 2, your cost would be $3, etc.).

This would have numerous positive benefits for the studios:

1. They wouldn't have to provide bandwidth, except for the initial seed.
2. There would be great incentive for people to try and get the file first, so they would recoup their money. This would build interest in the content, and might even make people download (and pay for, in some cases) content that they might otherwise wait for. Plus it would increase the number of seeders, resulting in super-fast downloads.
3. In the end, the number of people who download versus the number of "full" seeders (seeders who have uploaded 5x the amount they've downloaded, in my model) will still be a large number.

For downloaders:
1. Nobody gets sued who stays in the system. This is, of course, the big incentive.
2. People who provide the most bandwidth get something tangible back for their contribution.
3. People who DON'T chose to seed can still use the system to get legitimate content quickly - they just get a bill every so often (or a charge to their account)


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