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Intel 'backs' Bertelsmann P2P project

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Intel has followed the digital media delivery alliance it formed last year with Sony by striking a similar deal with German media giant Bertelsmann.

The two companies are to co-operate on the development of technology to enable movies, music and games to be downloaded and shared, Reuters reports.

It's all rather vague, of course, and in reality the 'co-operation' is likely to amount to little more than the chip giant letting the world know it welcomes the arrival of such a service. No great surprise there: it has s touted the digital home concept for some time, as its microprocessor products have a role in both the server-hosted delivery of such services and their consumption through home PCs. Anything to sell ever-faster chips.

Bertelsmann, after all, already has P2P software in place. The company ended up with the technology that powered the original version of Napster - Roxio acquired the branding - after taking a stake in the company in 2000. The code appears to have come to rest with Bertelsmann subsidiary Arvato, which develops content delivery systems. Last week, Arvato announced GNAB, a P2P download and sharing platform pitched at service providers. Unlike Napster 1.0, GNAB "secures the protection of all copyrights and supports all the rules and regulations of the individual licensors", according to its developer.

It's a remarkably cheeky proposition if you think about it. Says Arvato: "The decentralised component of "GNAB" makes it possible for the first time to distribute larger files like for example feature films or games efficiently and thus economically."

Think BitTorrent. In essence, the system uses end-users' PCs to take up the load of distributing content. Arvato calls this 'sharing', but in reality it's no more a sharing system than if I went out and bought two copies of a CD and sold one to a friend. It simply makes the customers of Arvato's service-provider clients part of the supply chain.

Contrast that with the likes of Mashboxx, which offers a full, true P2P service but with the addition of licensed content that limits what you can do with a shared and downloaded song (until you cough up your 99 cents, or whatever).

"Arvato suggests its customers - the operators of the platform - give the end-users an incentive, for example in the form of bonuses, to make their computer plus the contents bought from GNAB available to the network." (our italics)

The upshot is that end-users will spend more and more CPU cycles distributing the pigopolists' content on their behalf. No wonder Intel likes the idea... ®

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