Brussels, 19 February 2008 - P2P-Next, a pan-European conglomerate of 21 industrial partners, media content providers and research institutions, has received a €14 million grant from the European Union. The grant will enable the conglomerate to carry out a research project aiming to identify the potential uses of peer-to-peer (P2P) technology** for Internet Television of the future. The partners,* including the BBC, Delft University of Technology, the European Broadcasting Union, Lancaster University, Markenfilm, Pioneer Digital Design Centre Limited and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, intend to develop a Europe-wide "next-generation" internet television distribution system, based on P2P and social interaction.
"The P2P-Next project will run over four years, and plans to conduct a large-scale technical trial of new media applications running on a wide range of consumer devices. If successful, this ambitious project could create a platform that would enable audiences to stream and interact with live content via a PC or set top box. In addition, it is our intention to allow audiences to build communities around their favourite content via a fully personalized system. This technology could potentially be built into Video on Demand (VOD) services in the future and plans are underway to test the system for major broadcasting events.
The project has an open approach towards sharing results. All core software technology will be available as open source, enabling new business models. P2P-Next will also address a number of outstanding challenges related to content delivery over the internet, including technical, legal, regulatory, security, business and commercial issues."
Note to editors:
The complete list of Partners is:
What is Peer-to-Peer (P2P) technology:
P2P-Next in a nutshell:
And here's what Kendra Initiative submitted towards the bid:
Partner Name: Kendra Foundation
Expertise: Kendra Initiative, an international media, technology, academic and industry alliance, researches, recommends and develops enhancements to the digital media marketplace that facilitate interoperability between and revenue generation for content owners and service providers; to enable consumers to use any device or application to browse, search and purchase content from any content catalogue, seamlessly. The cross-industry stakeholder group is currently investigating content description, search, visibility, discovery, delivery and payment whilst developing and trialing prototypes.
Role in Project: Market opportunities are explored and transfer of knowledge to industry.
2.2 Individual participants
Kendra Foundation: Kendra Initiative, an international media, technology, academic and industry alliance, researches, recommends and develops enhancements to the digital media marketplace that facilitate interoperability between and revenue generation for content owners and service providers; to enable consumers to use any device or application to browse, search and purchase content from any content catalogue, seamlessly. The cross-industry stakeholder group is currently investigating content description, search, visibility, discovery, delivery and payment whilst developing and trialing prototypes.
Daniel Harris... Daniel Harris is an entrepreneur and Internet content expert. Daniel is currently leading an initiative, which he founded in 1999, to promote an open content marketplace for the Internet, called Kendra. Daniel has worked extensively in the UK Internet industry. In 1996, Daniel co-founded Cerbernet and served as CEO till late 1998. Under his watchful eye Cerbernet grew to become the UK's leading independent broadband Internet Service Provider. Cerbernet was acquired for over 4M GBP by First Telecom early in 2000 - at the height of the dotcom bubble. Daniel then worked for Atlantic Telecom as their Content Delivery Adviser till early 2001.
Neil Harris... Neil has designed a wide variety of technical and software solutions in a range of fields including the film, TV and telecommunications industry. With a background in mathematics and computer science, he was a founder of and later managing director of Sohonet, whose award-winning high-speed network interconnects the film and media industries of Hollywood, London, New York, New Zealand and Australia. He was also a key member of two other companies (Lightworks and the Computer Film Company) which in each case used innovative software to pioneer new digital markets and applications. Neil has received a scientific and technical Academy Award for his work on the Lightworks digital film editing system, and a BKSTS technical and scientific award for contributions to the media industry.
WP5.5 Mechanism for Universal Content Location - Requirements and Design
Why, what and how...
Right now we have many disparate systems and models in the marketplace offering films and music for purchase. Each one of these online "shops" has a fraction of the complete global catalogue. Each of them has different rules, different payment systems. Sometimes the media that they sell is tied to a device or platform that restricts a consumer's ability to play content wherever they want and when they want on whatever device they choose. For the consumer this is a fractured, confusing and frustrating marketplace.
Imagine if you had to download a special web browser for each website that you wanted to view, and sign up to a separate subscription for each website before you could start using it. It's like Minitel or Compuserve in the early days. But that's pretty much what we have right now with these online shops.
This situation is not good for content owners. There is a limit to the number of shops that a consumer will sign up to. And seeing that these shops don't contain all music a consumer may end up with access to only 20% (for instance) of the global media catalogue. Also, after visiting two or three of these shops, most likely, the consumer cannot find the content they seek and may give up and turn to more convenient methods: illegal file sharing.
Wouldn't it be better to have legal systems that work *better* than illegal file sharing systems? Systems that enabled the consumer to browse and search all online shops through the interface (device or application) of their choice. That enabled them purchase content from the globally distributed collection of content catalogues via the payment system of their choice. Making it easier to buy content would mean more reach and more revenue for content owners.
Any web browser (no matter what platform, device or operating system it's running on) can view any website (no matter what hardware or operating system it's running on). There is technologically no reason why any device/application couldn't browse, search and purchase content from the content cloud (globally distributed collection of content catalogues). Or why any shop couldn't be a vendor for all digital media - syndicated from all the content owners.
What needs to happen is for device manufacturers and application developers to adopt open business protocols to enable queries and transactions to take place between any vendor and any consumer. But also the content owners have to agree and decide that this is a good thing to do. There are a number of ways to introduce these open business protocols and how to engineer these protocols. Each way has pluses and minuses. The adoption rate is an important factor in the choice of protocol and introduction methodology. For instance a "top down" approach may work if there are enough large players all signed up at the beginning of the adoption drive. A "bottom up" approach may be beneficial if there is a ground swell of support from many smaller players.
Once we have these open business protocols in place for rights management, metadata, payment systems, etc we can start to experiment with business models. Our business models will not be restricted by the technology we are using. What is more, an open framework allows any number of new and future business models to work too. It's future proof. Business models could include cross-vendor subscriptions, where the consumer pays a subscription fee to an entity that then divvies out the proportionate share to the content owners depending on what that consumer has listened to or viewed. Equally, content could be passed from one consumer to another - each consumer may have a different "shop" but because they all interoperate, transactions can be routed via each service provider to the correct destination.
For such a framework to be successful - for there to be interoperability between current content distribution systems - the protocols need to be understood by all. The format of the metadata tagged to digital media files is a big issue. Bear in mind that most content owners (big and small) maintain their own proprietary databases (some in spreadsheets or paper), using their own language, formats, conventions, terminology, etc. There are two approaches to solving the problem of non-interoperable databases. One option is to tell everyone to ditch their current systems and database schema and adopt a new set. But defining the new set can take ages and has a propensity to fail due to business politics.
Up till now the accepted way of solving interoperability problems like these is to introduce a set of standards for the industry to adopt and then everything will just work assuming everyone adopts the new standards. Unfortunately, in the given marketplace people simply don't like to always talk the same language or use the same terminology.
For example, take two music catalogues published by different record labels. One database calls the track title "song" and the other calls it "work". How about databases published in different languages? Getting industry to adopt any one set of standard terminology is an uphill struggle given the number of people/organisations in the industry. Why not enable people to talk their own language and use their own terminology.
First stab at key objectives for Kendra Signposts...
Funding over next 4 years: