CBC follows Norway’s BitTorrent lead

My friend Steve O’Hear alerted me to a post on the Last100 blog (part of the excellent Read/Write Web network) written by Guinevere Orvis, an interactive producer with the CBC — that’s Canada’s national broadcaster, for any of my non-Canadian readers — about how the network came to distribute one of its shows using the BitTorrent peer-to-peer network. Guinevere says that the idea started with a post on BoingBoing about Norway’s state broadcaster doing the same thing with a show.

While it might have been nice to hear that the CBC got the idea from reading about it on my Globe blog (sorry, I couldn’t resist), it’s still nice to know that our national broadcaster is open to new ideas. And from the sounds of Norway’s experience, it should be one that they consider repeating. According to Eirik Solheim, who works for the Norwegian broadcaster, the show has been downloaded more than 90,000 times and the network has been “saving huge on bandwidth cost.”

That last part is important to note: BitTorrent may be known for piracy, but it is fundamentally a distribution method, plain and simple (ISPs argue that it is cheap because it piggybacks on their networks and sticks them with the bill, but that’s a topic for another day). Here’s hoping that the CBC decides to continue this experiment, and congratulations to Guinevere for helping them come to grips with the issues involved and spurring them on. Her full post on all the details is well worth a read.

Further reading:

Michael Geist has written about the CBC’s move, and so has TorrentFreak, and CNET. Mike Masnick at Techdirt has taken note of it as well.

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