BitTorrent unveils streaming service in effort to buoy legit bona fides

The file-sharing brand aims to end its association with online piracy.

Not content to only be known as the default tool for the world’s illegal fileshares, BitTorrent is redoubling its legal filesharing applications by launching two new services (for online streaming and content searching) and teaming with musicians to release special content.

BitTorrent Live is currently in beta, and is “designed to deliver high quality video to large audiences – with significant reduction in infrastructure cost and network delays.” Still in alpha testing, BitTorrent Surf is a Chrome extension that searches for torrents and prioritizes “legitimate content sources.”

At SXSW, BitTorrent is also pitching itself as a way for artists to expand their fanbases with torrent projects, like the “BitTorrent bundle” that DJ Shadow released last summer.

“It’s advertising, essentially. It’s free content for fan acquisition, which yields money at some point down the line,” says Mike Fiebach, CEO of digital marketing agency Famehouse (the firm behind that Shad project, among others). “Does it happen directly? Not usually, but eventually it adds to the artist’s bottom line by increasing their fan base”.

Obviously, some artists remain wary of the service that is better known for providing illegal copies of their work. “At the end of the day, are they turning a profit on piracy? Yes. Do they necessarily want to be doing that? No,” Feibach said. “And for them to change the way that their tool works would change its ability to have positive power, too.” [via The Guardian]

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