BitTorrent, the purveyor of file sharing technology, announced that it is creating the opportunity for artists to charge for the download of “BitTorrent Bundles,” collections of music made available through the service. The creation of a so-called paywall is quite a change for BitTorrent, a service that is closely associated with piracy. BitTorrent provides the technology often used to share content illegally on the web, and in the past has been noticeably subdued in speaking out against piracy online. That is to say, BitTorrent made much of an effort to stop it.
It may well be that BitTorrent is finally figuring out that it costs money to create content. A case in point – BitTorrent is launching a Kickstarter project to launch a new scifi video series. If approximately 250,000 users are willing to pay $9.95 upfront to produce the series, they will gain access to 8 episodes. If the goal isn’t met, the series will not be produced. It is indeed a bold experiment to see if the BitTorrent audience, used to receiving its media for free, will be willing to finance original programming.
If produced the series, “Children of the Machine,” will be available as a BitTorrent Bundle. According to the plan, BitTorrent will receive a percentage of the sales of all of its bundles. The realization that content actually costs money may serve to set BitTorrent off in a new direction. Its success will depend in large measure on whether its core group of users is willing to underwrite the shift.
BitTorrent also has a bit of a PR challenge on its hands. The service has for so long been associated with piracy that it faces the challenge of convincing content owners and producers, from major Hollywood studios to independent content creators that it really places a priority on the recognition of their property rights.