Bitmunk – P2P distribution?

Bitmunk has an interesting business model for distributing music and other digital content. It has some important features that could make it successful:

  • Bitmunk provides a secure base for the business of exchanging digital goods and money. All users are authenticated.
  • Artists can register their work directly and set their own prices.
  • Others are encouraged to sell the work and even earn a fee for doing it thus encouraging support for the artist and distributing bandwidth requirements.

Bitmunk says they don’t use DRM but what they mean is they don’t use ‘strong’ Technological Protection Measures (TPM) that technically control what a consumer can do with their copy. The do use soft DRM though. Each traded work is uniquely watermarked and so can be identified if it starts being distributed in the wild. If this happens the consumer who originally purchased the work can be penalised by Bitmunk and possibly sued by the artist for copyright infringement. I wonder if this responsibility will be too onerous for the consumer? An honest consumer could accidental loose track of a copy and be penalized when an unknown third party illegally distributes the content.

Bitmunk also describes itself as a P2P service but again this only partly true. It does encourage a certain amount of distributed distribution where anyone can set up as a seller and earn a fee for the distribution of the content thus potentially relieving the load on the central Bitmunk service but here is the rub. Bitmunk centrally controls all transactions and charges 15% for doing it. This may be a valid, essential and worthwhile service but dose it fit a pure P2P model?

Watermarks are becoming popular:

Another company, Infoflows, has also announced digital object recognition by the use of unique watermarks. The trick this time is that the watermarks provide a link to the Handle system that in turn provides persistent links to the source of content, licenses or meta-data.

2 Comments Bitmunk – P2P distribution?

  1. Avatarvalentin spirik

    i would never buy anything from a company that uses this watermark system and i would never sell anything via a company that uses this system. i think this might even be worse than the “normal” drm in case you can’t get rid of it.

    there are many reasons why this is a very bad idea. just one: e.g. in germany you are allowed to make copies of commercial cds for your friends. i think the law does not mention the number of cds you are allowed to burn, but obviously there is a limit. a friend who – legally – got a copy of a commercial cd from me can, as far as i understand that law, give away copies to his friends… if there was a “waterwark” on the cd it would be my watermark. but what i did would be perfectly legal – in germany – and it is no one’s business to find out what cd i might have given to whom!

    what about second hand stuff…? the watermark does not change when there is a new owner…

    what about things you buy as a present…? will companies start suing grandmothers because their nephews made digital copies of a particular product and gave it away (maybe even legally in certain countries) to their friends…?

    what about theft or loosing e.g. a cd…?

    this watermark concept is such a stupid idea. there is nothing good about it. those companies have not understood why drm – of any kind – is a very bad thing.

    people wake up:

    there will always be those who get your product for free. be it because they don’t want to pay for it (then ask yourself “why?”) or because they don’t have the money. in the latter case i would think that it is morally perfectly ok to get stuff for free when this is in form of a digital copy (in contrast to a physical product where a company really looses money if someone steals a product).

    and those who have the money and really like a product will – most of the time – pay for that product!

    so the only thing companies should worry about is how to make a great product that people would want to buy. investing time and money in new drm technology only makes a product more expensive – and of course the consumers (we) are the ones who have to pay for the development of another silly drm technology.

    drm – of any kind – is about greed and fear. let’s please all boycott any company that uses any kind of drm. this is so wrong, they have not understood anything. “watermark” might sound good because it has “water” in it, but to me this sounds as bad as when (like in the irak war) there are discussions about “mini-nukes”:

    something as bad as a nuclear weapon, drm or cigarettes does not get any better if you make a “light” version of it – this is only an attempt to make something bad look good.

    i am sure it will just be a matter of time until someone comes up with a way to change a watermark drm – hopefully.

    and then there are of course privacy concerns: do you really want companies to have lists of things you buy, with your name and address just so that they can make sure you don’t share their products with your friends…?

    f*** them. f*** drm.

  2. AvatarSteve Stone

    Infoflows believes that information and images should flow using the normal methods of business processes. Preventing the use of an image through traditional wrapping DRM is not always optimal. Additionally, we believe that owners of images need to be able to be paid for the use of their images thus the Fedmark system provides reports of use to our clients. Thus, the Fedmark system uses both a fingerprinting system as well as an optional watermark. The fingerprint is entirely passive while the watermark is embedded. In many cases the watermark is not used at all as it is a customer preference. In both cases, the result uses the handle system to point to the owner of the image. If the owner changes, data associated with the owner changes.


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