If you're wondering what possible use BitTorrent has outside rampant piracy and software distribution, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation may well have an answer for you. From the 24th of March the Canadian public broadcaster will be making DRM-free digital copies of its show Canada's Next Great Prime Minister
available via the peer-to-peer networking protocol. They're even encouraging people to “download, share & burn to your heart's desire.
The show allows contestants to suggest ways to improve the country in exchange for a shot at a $50,000 prize fund. Okay, so it's hardly a prime-time show but it is
pretty popular in Canada with over a million viewers tuning in to last year's broadcast.
The decision to make the show available to all with no restrictions or DRM in place was largely due to manager Tessa Sproule, a fan of Cory Doctorow's BoingBoing blog. After reading of a plan
by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation to distribute shows via BitTorrent Sproule was inspired to fight for a similar experiment at CBC.
Guinevere Orvis, a producer for the show, has said that she believes that “DRM is dead, even if a lot of broadcasters don't realise it,
” and that the decision to make the show available with no technical limitations was due to a desire for the show to be “as accessible as possible, to as many Canadians as possible, in the format that they want it in.
The show will be encoded into several different formats – including the inevitable iPod version – and initially seeded from a CBC-hosted server. Interestingly, the corporation will not be filtering on IP geolocation – anyone in the world is welcome to download the show free of charge. Ironically, users over here in the UK might find it easier to grab than Canadians will, with the major Canadian ISP Rogers Internet filtering
BitTorrent traffic and preventing P2P downloads from completing.
Whether this experiment marks the beginning of the end for locked-down DRM content will largely depend on its success, but it's certainly nice to see a major corporation putting the desires of the customers first for once.
Do you applaud CBC's decision to distribute the programme sans DRM, or are you waiting for a show you've heard of to do the same? Share your thoughts over in the forums