BitTorrent to Implement Paywall, Crowdfunding

Lila Gray

SAN FRANCISCO — Eschewed by anti-piracy creatives in the mainstream and adult entertainment sectors alike, BitTorrent may be making a move towards a more fair financial exchange with its plans to implement crowdfunding and a paywall.

The peer-to-peer file-sharing giant doesn’t publically condone illegal piracy of music, movies or (presumably) porn, but has become almost synonymous with the practice. “People wrongly assume we’re about illegal file-sharing,” said Matt Mason, chief content officer for BitTorrent.

In a major move that could put BitTorrent’s money in artist’s mouths, BitTorrent is launching an in-house crowdfunding campaign that asks its tens of millions of users to pay $9.95 to help finance a new fiction series called “Children of the Machine” from independent film vet Marco Weber.

“I think of it as the perfect hybrid between Kickstarter and Netflix,” Weber told the New York Times.

Should sufficient funds be raised, the pilot will launch for free in December on BitTorrent. If about 250,000 users shell out the ten bucks, Weber will produce the entire series, which takes place in a global-warming ravaged hyper-technological near-future, and even integrates peer-to-peer technology references.

Even before “Children of the Machine” goes live, BitTorrent announced that it will be implementing in September a paywall for one of its “bundles,” or downloads used by a variety of artists to promote their work, often in exchange for just an email. BitTorrent explained that the first paywall will give users access to a yet-unnamed big-name musician’s download bundle.

“We all want to see new business models that reach audiences who are willing to reward creativity by paying a fair price,” said Ruth Vitale, executive director of CreativeFuture, an antipiracy coalition that includes both artists and companies.

However, Vitale remains skeptical, adding “If they are sincere about supporting creatives, BitTorrent needs to condemn the widespread misuse of the protocol it created.” 

To read more about BitTorrent's plans, click here.