Sony’s P2P network

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Over the last week Sony BGM has released plans to create its own P2P network allowing users to trade their music, at any bitrate they wish, completely legally. The service is set to be included in all broardband packages from Playlouder MSP. Users connected to the Playlouder ISP will be able to freely trade their music with part of their monthly internet fee going to Sony, which in theory will then pass a portion back to the artists.

By limiting the service to Playlouder users only, it must be assumed that those involved hope to easily control who can connect to the servers and importantly where these users (and their files) go after downloading music. The press release announcing the deal states “… control the flow of music files over its network ensuring that all file-sharing traffic stays within its ‘walled-garden’.”. This suggests that Playlouder may attempt block access to common P2P networks like BitTorrent and eDonkey and generally attempt to control users’ internet usage.

For those wondering what Playlouder is and where they can sign up, it is a UK company that will be launching its public service next month to UK customers. Pricing is set at £26.99 per month, which will cover both your internet connection and subscription to the P2P service. Unfortunately no information regarding the speed or type of connection (ADSL or Cable) is available as yet.

While it’s good to see companies moving toward flat fee P2P services, it’s hard to say how successful this venture will be without full pricing details, such as connection type and speed as well the answers to a few questions.

Exactly what songs can be traded? One would assume Sony artists only, but will all Sony artists be available or only a select number? Also Playlouder says it will be announcing more supporters before launch, so what other music can we expect?

Also how are songs are introduced into the network? Does a user have to buy them and upload them first or will the entire Sony catalogue be available to all users? Will other P2P networks be blocked by Playlouder? If so where does that leave people who use P2P for legitimate functions such as podcasts or free software, not to mention TV or movie content?

Will there be some sort of download limit? Maybe an upload/download ratio? A delay period on new releases? I doubt Sony will just open their full catalogue up for downloading, as it would destroy CD sales.

While there are a number of questions to be answered and the UK-only range is very limiting, this is clearly a hugely positive move from Sony and is great to see such a large, influential company get behind the idea of P2P.

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About Chris McLean