Altnet to pay Kazaa users for swapping

A year after launching its sometimes-controversial alliance with Kazaa, Brilliant Digital Entertainment subsidiary Altnet is kicking off a new, ambitious stage of its peer-to-peer marketing campaign. Later this week, Kazaa parent Sharman Networks and Altnet will jointly release a new bundle of file-swapping software that will include components of a new high-security peer-to-peer network and a program that will pay users to be a part of it.

The idea, says Altnet CEO Kevin Bermeister, is to harness the computing resources of the tens of millions of Kazaa users to distribute authorized files such as games, songs and movies. Giving people an incentive to host and trade paid files could create a powerful medium for distributing authorized content and could diminish file-trading networks' role as hubs of online piracy, he said.

"The minute you begin shifting unauthorized files out of people's shared folders, the peer-to-peer networks (as sources of copyright infringement) begin to disappear," Bermeister said. "Lawsuits are the stick approach. This is the carrot." The release of the new service is a landmark moment for both Altnet and Kazaa, which is far and away the most popular file-swapping software program online. Bermeister's plans for marketing authorized files using Kazaa have been an instrumental part in the strategy of Sharman since its inception in early 2002.

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