By Jon Newton 10/14/02
"Altnet is the first wholesale, peer-to-peer network created to provide easy search access for consumers to secure content distributed from content owners with cost-effective bandwidth functions for the enterprise customers and content owners. Altnet greatly reduces bandwidth and storage costs for enterprise customers by leveraging the computing and storage resources of a massive network of Qualified PCs. Further, it provides a secure P2P network that puts content owners in control of the online distribution of their content."
Does this load of old cobblers make your heart go pity-pat?
That's what you'll see if you go to the Altnet site which, via a deal with Kazaa partner Brilliant Digital Entertainment, wants to see if online music lovers will fork out $4.95 to download a video, or 25 cents for one song.
But that's only the thin edge of a very large wedge, to be polite about it.
Altnet is a joint venture between Brilliant and Niklas Zennström's new company Joltid, the latter being developers of, "the world's most popular P2P technology," as its puff-stuff says modestly (Zennström was one of the original Kazaa/FastTrack founders).
Put another way, Kazaa users, who presently hook and swap free digital files, will now also be offered links to songs hawked by the labels - both in the form of links on kazaa's home page and results with gold icons that are displayed with normal search results - for which they'll have to pay. And this, it goes almost without saying, represents an attempt by the Fulsome Five record labels to sneak into p2p through the back door, having repeatedly bolloxed up legitimate entry.
It's ironic that Kazaa should be the means by which they try to squeeze in.
But there's more and now it gets REALLY scary.
Users will also be asked to let Brilliant and Joltid roam around loose in their home computers so Brilliant and Joltid can make millions of dollars.
"Altnet will compensate consumers who opt in to the network with Altnet resource dollars, exclusive entertainment content and other redeemable goods and services. Of the entire customer base, only a small core will operate as network hubs and will be proactively approached by Altnet for permission to use their PC’s resources."
Do that mean what it seem to mean?
Yep. It do.
If you've got a P4, Altnet wants it, "for about 8 hours a day".
It says, "You might choose to allow Altnet to use your processing power and bandwidth during the night to render movies for an animation studio. Altnet will install a tiny application on your machine and each night will send you a package or raw data to process into video. While you sleep, your computer renders the video, deletes the raw data and sends the video back to Altnet. At any time you can enquire into the reward value you have earned and you will be able to redeem according to your agreement with Altnet for this service."
It goes on, "We're pioneering. This is a hugely exciting world where millions of independent computers join together to work on scientific research by way of distributed processing, bandwidth cost reduction, distributed storage, and more [for us]. Altnet hopes to reduce serving costs making streaming video and many other new services possible [so we can milk them dry]. Of course the distributed processor applications and distributed downloads and distributed storage need to run somewhere - and that's where you get to contribute, and get rewarded."
And shafted, perhaps?
But perish the thought. The nice folks at Altnet say in a statement from Brilliant Digital Entertainment, "Regarding Altnet: Much of the press and public's attention has focused on Brilliant Digital's SecureInstall technology, which is being downloaded along with the Digital Projector, as part of Sharman Networks' KaZaA Media Desktop. ALTNET WILL NEVER USE YOUR PC'S RESOURCES WITHOUT YOUR EXPRESS ACCEPTANCE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT.
"We understand that not all users will choose to be a part of the Altnet program but we also understand that many users will want to be a part of the program in which case those users who elect to participate will receive non-cash compensation that will be announced at that time."
But what's truly mind-boggling is that Brilliant Digital will probably get people to actually sign up for this. They're no doubt already floating this scheme to ignorant investors who don't know p2p is already under way without the "tiny application" on peoples' systems. And no doubt they're advised by many of the same clueless venture capitalists who've already lost their clients' shorts trying to get rich from (cough, cough) dot.com and e-commerce.
Maybe they shouldn't worry, though, because there are also words of comfort for them, immediately under BDE's 'regarding Altnet' bit. This one, however, reads:
"Statements in this release that may relate to projections, events or performance are forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934, as amended. Actual results may differ materially due to a variety of factors, including those factors set forth in the Company's most recently filed Form 10-KSB which is available from Brilliant Digital Entertainment's Investor Relations department and may be obtained by calling or writing to Robin Gore, at 818-615-1500 X528 or firstname.lastname@example.org."
Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge to to explore it.
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