BitTorrent to attempt crowdfunding and a paywall experiment

BitTorrent, the company responsible for on-going development of the BitTorrent peer-to-peer protocol, has announced a plan to produce a new science fiction series and pay for it through crowd funding.  If you are a BitTorrent user, you can donate $9.95 to finance the series, and gain viewing rights to the eight episodes.

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This is the latest attempt by BitTorrent to profit from the estimated 170 million users of their software and P2P technology.  Their previous forays into monetizing their P2P technology include a very short-lived movie service back in 2008, where they offered downloads of movies for extravagant prices, and inserting ads into the uTorrent program.

The Sci-fi series they intend to produce will be called “Children of the Machine”, and will be written and produced by Marco Weber and Jeff Stockwell, both experienced in making films such as “Bridge to Terabithia” and “The Informers.”  A pilot of the series is expected to be released in December for free, but the full series will require approximately 250,000 subscribers.

In addition to the crowdfunded Sci-fi series, BitTorrent is planning to place a paywall on one of its music bundles, this time from a major artist yet to be named.  The paywall bundle will be released in September.  For approximately one year, BitTorrent has been offering free bundles for independent musicians, graphic artists and others.  The only catch is that you have to provide an email address to obtain one of these bundles.  Over 10,000 such bundles have been available, with over 100 million downloads.

BitTorrent is trying to change public perception of their company and the P2P protocol in general.  Though they distribute sharing technology, they do not condone illegal file sharing.  They see the new paywall as an opportunity for the artists, since they will set the fees, and the BitTorrent site takes only a cut of the proceeds as host and distributor.

The full story is at The New York Times.