Warner Bros. plans to begin using BitTorrent to distribute movies and TV shows over the Internet this summer. BitTorrent will provide the first peer-assisted technology platform to offer U.S. consumers legal content on both a video-on-demand (VOD) and electronic sell through basis, day-and-date with the DVD release," a statement from BitTorrent Inc. said.
Warner thinks selling access to files for as little as a buck could plug the multi-billion dollar piracy leak which cost studios $2.3 billion last year. The president of Warner's home entertainment group told the Wall Street Journal, "If we can convert 5%, 10%, 15% of those (illegal-peer to-peer) users to become legitimate users of our product, it can have a significant impact on our industry and Warner Bros." He's right. And, I bet, wrong.
People don't use Bit Torrent because it's an easy and quick way to download copies of "The Producers" or "Syriana." It's not. File formats are unpredictable; some programs come in as many as 50 segments which a computer program has to stitch together; quality is notoriously unreliable. People put up with all that because the movies (and music and software and games) are free - often before they're released on DVD in stores.
Apple's iTunes Music Store made file downloading simple and cheap. Perhaps Bram Cohen, the genius who invented Bit Torrent, now sees himself as Steve Jobs; architect of a cool, video entertainment smorgasbord. That's not a bad goal, as long as Jobs doesn't do it, too. But to believe that adopting Bit Torrent can stop piracy is folly.