The pro-P2P Greens EFA party in the EU parliament made something of a ruckus a few weeks back over the a campaign called “I Wouldn’t Steal.” In January, the Greens had determined that promotions of anti-piracy propaganda had gone too far and were purposely misleading the public as to the facts of peer-to-peer technologies, and made it a point to combat such deception.
And, interestingly enough, we see today an update on the Greens efforts. Ernesto at TorrentFreak has reported that the the European Union has decided to invest $22 million in the development of an open-source BitTorrent client. Yes, it turns out that the Greens – who lay claim to some 42 seats in parliament – may have well proven their fight for fair use of file-sharing technologies successful after all.
The title of the project-to-be is P2P-Next. Partners range from independent developers (creators of Tribler) to content owners big and small (BBC, European Broadcasting Union, Lancaster University, Markenfilm, Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited, and the VTT Technical Research Centre). The proposed client itself will be capable of providing users the option to download material as well as view live video streams.
Looking at this announcement, I’m unsure whether to take this news with an admission of surprise or to say, with the clear perspective of hindsight, that this could have been expected to occur. Though the EU has consistently taken a hard, fighting stance against illegal practices in the digital realm, the continent-wide regulatory bureaucracy has also shown its interest in keeping a close eye – some might argue too close – on maligned businesses seeking profit any which way possible. So it isn’t all too shocking to find union representatives working to provide some measure of due diligence on such a controversial matter as file sharing.
Parliament’s $22m (15m euros) pledge for the development of an officially sanctioned BitTorrent client doesn’t necessarily hint at a grand, “game-changing” produce or service to come, of course. The media industry in Europe, like the US and Asia, is massive. Billions of dollars are involved each and every year. Those numbers in and of themselves dwarf this new announcement. And if one is to take into account the likelihood of funding wasted on overhead costs and miscellaneous subtractions, well, the budget could look rather tight and constrained in short time. Futhermore, not all names associated with the “Big Media” brand are on board with P2P-Next. Much more convincing and a good deal of real-world examples charting its legitimacy will need to be shown before we see any sweeping revisions to corporate strategies across the industry.
Mind you, the investment is better than none. And the multitude of initial partners shows that there’s a sizable push to move past the BitTorrent attacks and the push of consumers by copyright owners to the underground to a more productive future.
If only the parties in the US could come to a similar arrangement. Is a P2P-Next-like launch across the pond too far-fetched a concept at the moment? Probably. One can dream, though. One can dream.