Torrent live broadcasts with new BitTorrent service

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Add live broadcasts to the list of media you can now torrent.

BitTorrent on Tuesday opened BitTorrent Live to the public. Download Live, and you can browse existing channels; you can also sign up to be a broadcaster and create your own channel. The San Francisco-based peer-to-peer technology company has been testing the invitation-only Live for months as part of its BitTorrent Labs incubator. Now the free plug-in is available to all.

Ideally, BitTorrent Live streams live broadcasts with minimal delays. BitTorrent CEO Eric Klinker told TechHive in February that BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen built the Live protocol from the ground up over the course of three years. The protocol is designed to scale up as more users sign on to serve as miniature broadcasters bouncing streams from one person to the next.

“It is a distributive protocol, it relies on no servers, it is designed to bring linear video to an audience that could be millions in size, and to do that as reliably, organically, and to scale as BitTorrent does with on-demand content,” Klinker told us.

Content ranges from international news channels and live concerts to archived sports footage and old cartoons.

The service was lagging considerably on Tuesday with the influx of new users, but BitTorrent constantly fine-tunes its Labs projects. When operating smoothly, Live channels are expected to stream with less than five-second delays.

New ventures like Live and Labs projects such as content discovery plug-in Surf and file-sharing service SoShare are part of BitTorrent’s effort to shed the piracy label it’s been slapped with and be thought of as a legitimate way to share content.

At South by Southwest on Tuesday, BitTorrent also announced a partnership with singer and YouTube star Alex Day. A bundle of tracks on Wednesday will be released on BitTorrent’s SoShare platform to preview Day’s new album, which drops March 17. The company is aiming to do for Day what it did last year for author Tim Ferriss: Help him become a best-selling artist without traditional distribution.

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