Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

New Video Venture from Skype Creators 45

Posted by Zonk
from the video-in-the-pipe-not-voice dept.
bart_scriv writes "BusinessWeek reports that Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis (creators of Kazaa and Skype) are at work on a new project: 'software for distributing TV shows and other forms of video over the Web.' Calling the work 'The Venice Project,' Zennstrom and Friis have assembled teams of developers to tackle the problem. The developers are already in negotiations with TV networks to use the system.'" From the article: "This time around, Zennstrom and Friis are inviting the cooperation of TV producers and networks. While the exact nature of their business model isn't clear, they are talking to every TV network in town, according to one person familiar with the matter. The idea is to become a dominant TV distribution company for the Internet era, just as companies such as Comcast (CMSCA) have dominated TV distribution in the cable era."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New Video Venture from Skype Creators

Comments Filter:
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:27AM (#15775535) Journal
    First off, that article is rife with ads and I suggest the printer friendly version [businessweek.com] of it so you don't have to click "Skip this ad" or skip across memory intensive flash advertisements that cause your browser to crap out.

    Secondly, this will most likely be a peer-to-peer application because it would be bandwidth expensive and problematic to centrally host these shows. A thing that concerns me with this is something I saw happen with Kazaa and the Windows media formats. Virus writers were figuring out ways to embed viruses into the files [washingtonpost.com] so that when your machine read them, the codec would unintentionally execute or behave like a virus or malware. Several of my friends suffered computer troubles due to downloading WMA files and trying to listen to them only to have their machine lock up with a worm. Later on, Kazaa included a BullGuard P2P Virus Protection Option [kazaa.com] in their product but in my opinion, it was too late. Everyone should be familiar with the potential JPEG exploit in Microsoft Windows, if it can be done for one two dimensional image, surely it can be embedded in a single frame of a video file.

    I hope that the original Kazaa inventors realized this problem and are working to implement a secure system where I don't have to worry about receiving a file that might have malicious code embedded in it. A simple solution would be to compute a checksum on each file received by The Venice Project application. They would then require computers to ping a centralized server they set up to verify that the byte sum counted is indeed the correct sum and that the entire video is legit and unadulterated. There's probably easier schemes and forms of encryption to protect this but I sincerely hope this is a very real and concentrated point of this software for The Venice Project.

    I think that Virus writers love applications built on names and not security. They love "industry standard" applications. Because that means a larger target base if they tailor a virus to that application. I fear that if people mindlessly buy The Venice Project only because of the inventor's fame but ignore security problems that may cause problems down the line. Kazaa was a virus writers dream, what are Zennstrom and Friis doing to prevent the same thing from happening again?
    • if it can be done for one two dimensional image, surely it can be embedded in a single frame of a video file.

      Not necessarily. The problem with the WMF issue was the method of reading the file. It doesn't get exponentially worse with video files because "there are more pictures". In fact, due to delta compression in most video codecs, there normally aren't an "single frames" stored as such.

      It depends on whether the programs used on Windows Media files allow them to execute code or not.

      If only the p
      • Nobody mentioned "exponentially worse", just that it was as likely and this network should expect to be targeted.

        The fact that the have been two critical vulnerabilities (JPEG and WMF issues were unrelated) in relatively simply 2D decompression code means it is reasonable to expect the may be vulnerabilities in 3D code as well.

        It is due to delta compression, and all the other complex mathematical filters applied to video that makes a vulnerability so likely. If loading a "single frame" bitmap off the disk i
        • The fact that the have been two critical vulnerabilities (JPEG and WMF issues were unrelated) in relatively simply 2D decompression code means it is reasonable to expect the may be vulnerabilities in 3D code as well.

          The critical problem wasn't that a buffer overflow could caused, the critical problem was that the image files contained executable code at all. I think it hightlights an lack of review - originally, this was a reasonable (though possibly naive) idea (windows wasn't designed to be connected
    • by Penguin Programmer (241752) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:19AM (#15776237) Homepage
      Secondly, this will most likely be a peer-to-peer application because it would be bandwidth expensive and problematic to centrally host these shows. A thing that concerns me with this is something I saw happen with Kazaa and the Windows media formats. Virus writers were figuring out ways to embed viruses into the files so that when your machine read them, the codec would unintentionally execute or behave like a virus or malware. Several of my friends suffered computer troubles due to downloading WMA files and trying to listen to them only to have their machine lock up with a worm. Later on, Kazaa included a BullGuard P2P Virus Protection Option in their product but in my opinion, it was too late. Everyone should be familiar with the potential JPEG exploit in Microsoft Windows, if it can be done for one two dimensional image, surely it can be embedded in a single frame of a video file.


      I fail to see how badly-written codecs and viewer software that allow arbitrary code from a non-executable file to be run is the problem of the distribution network. If an idiot user runs an executable that's named "hot pr0n!.mpeg .exe", that's the user's problem. If MS's JPEG implementation allows arbitrary code to be run on someone's machine that's MS's problem.

      Let's not shift the blame from the stupid users and bad coders to the people who allow the content to be distributed. That's like blaming the truck driver who delivered your car to the dealership when you drive the car off a cliff at 200 mph.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:27AM (#15775537)
    I am a big believer in TV over the web (I watch shows like Digital Life TV and Diggnation every week myself). And I really hope it becomes more normalized (esp. since I only have my apartment complex's crappy cable system to watch).

    But, right now, there are three major problems with IPTV, or web video:

    1. Competing standards and services--Every one of these new services or networks that launch web video seem to require their own unique "player" or codec to use. Even the iPod video player has failed to standardize this.
    2. Lack of a good media center solution--Despite promising results with Windows Media Center, MythTV, etc. there still really isn't a good standard solution to pumping so many different formats of video from your computer to your TV. I myself basically had to end up connecting my computer's s-video output directly to my TV (and even that required an expensive ground loop isolator to get rid of banding and video noise). Newer HDTV's with VGA inputs might help this, but you would think that someone by now would have developed a decent stand-alone box that could transfer video from your computer to your TV over your network in a variety of formats REALIABLY. So far they all feature either piss-poor performance or are VERY picky and flaky about the video formats they'll play.
    3. DRM--this is related to #1 and #2. Content providers are still ridiculously cautious about locking everything down with DRM, to the point that viewing the video over a network or every using a standard media player becomes extremely difficult. Yet another roadblock to making any one service or content provider "mainstream" enough for much popularity.

    -Eric

    • by Anonymous Coward
      In the peer to peer "revolution", the way forward was paved by these people. They weren't the first, but they mainstreamed it. Decentralized networks simply didn't exist in a fashion that had ever been applied or scaled in the way Kazaa did it, and even Bittorrent today doesnt have the level of resilience that the Kazaa supernode mesh does.

      In the VOIP "revolution", the way forward was paved by these people. They weren't the first, but they mainstreamed it.

      I see no reason to believe that if the same team app
      • wasn't it that centralised TV Internet distribution doesn't really work? Even with more and more broadband availability, massive events like the recent world cup could not have been broadcasted over the net.

        That's where the distributed storage idea steps in. If they succeeded in de-centralising movies and the kind, why not do it now for online TV, in the hope that the viral marketing style will automatically pop in.

        Just think about the scale, and the massive investment they do. I hope it's gonna be big;

    • Web surfers also have shorter attention spam, as demonstrated by the length of YouTube videos. How people believe they can make money out of me-too applications is mind-boggling.
    • I am a big believer in TV over the web (I watch shows like Digital Life TV and Diggnation every week myself). And I really hope it becomes more normalized (esp. since I only have my apartment complex's crappy cable system to watch).

      Mee too, I used to watch ess.tv in shoutcast a year ago, unfortunately about 2 day ago I went the page (I just got wireless internet at home) but it has been taken down by The Industry (that'll be the name of the movie you will see).

      Of course I knew that wha they were doing was i
    • Re #2. XBMC does this quite well actually (with the obvious exclusion of DRM'ed media). It uses mplayer internally to play video so it supports practically every format mplayer does (I think a few obscure formats may not be compiled into their build...though this may have changed).

      Of course, this solution isn't for the average user but it's certainly well within the grasp of the average Slashdotter.
    • Disclaimer: I created WideSAN [widesan.com]

      I haven't been able to get the ear of large networks, but I realized a long time ago that digital video was heading in the direction that you are complaining about. I decided to try and do something about it and created the WideSAN [widesan.com] digital video distribution method that should satisfy content owners and end users.

      Competing standards and services--Every one of these new services or networks that launch web video seem to require their own unique "player" or codec to use. Even

      • There have been some products in this area such as the Linksys WMCE54AG

        Yeah, but that is basically just a media center extender, and suffers SEVERE limitations as a result. Media center extenders require an XP media center PC (at present, only the Xbox 360 will work with Vista) and are VERY picky about what file formats they play (basically strictly-encoded wmv files and maybe some avi files, they will not play h.264 or any other mov files, divx files, or xvid files).

        -Eric

    • you would think that someone by now would have developed a decent stand-alone box that could transfer video from your computer to your TV over your network in a variety of formats REALIABLY. So far they all feature either piss-poor performance or are VERY picky and flaky about the video formats they'll play.

      This is a BIG PROBLEM. People never quite realise how big a problem it is. The problem being that video is very very big.

      The video bandwidth to your display device is a minimum of several hundred Mb/sec.

  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:28AM (#15775548) Homepage Journal
    'software for distributing TV shows and other forms of video over the Web.'
    I've already got one of those. It rhymes with "TitBorrent."
  • by rbarreira (836272) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:29AM (#15775551) Homepage
    Don't they think of internet's tubes??
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:39AM (#15775596)
    The evolution of TV on the Web isn't likely to look like a rerun of the legal battles over film and music on the Web.

    What's the difference, anyway?
    They are both media being distributed on the internet, you can buy TV shows in stores and online just like movies and music DVDs/CDs.
    So all media should be treated the same and the lawsuits should stop, correct?
  • thoughts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tony Tez (973071) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:42AM (#15775607) Homepage
    I think the twins are onto somthing good here if you've been watching the progression of break.com and youtube.com . Since the videos will be coming from the tv stations, it's just a simple distribution system.

    Hosted from a single site I could see bandwidth being an issue, but I think the draw of a p2p system isn't there. People used (still use, somewhat) p2p systems because of the draw of getting music/videos for free that someone didn't want them to. This is a legit system, and people are going to want a simple download. I imagine part of working it out is using multiple servers to split the load.

    One other issue if they did use p2p would be licensing, namedly that BDE/Altnet Inc. own the patent of using a file hash on a p2p-type system. Stupid, but it exists and has technically held up in court. Granted easy to design a new system around it, but a con on the side of using p2p.

    So, my bet is that it'll be on a multiple-server setup. That's my take at least as of now.

    So, what I expect to see in reality is a setup like break.com where the videos only come from the tv stations(likely paying the venice project), and a fairly uninventive download method, riddled with advertisements. Oh, and DRM will definitely be in there, no doubt about it.

    I think it'll work and people will visit often, but I don't think it'll be ground-breaking.
    • Re:thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

      by costas (38724)
      One possibility that no-one has mentioned is p2p streaming. I can (vaguely) appreciate the technical problems of such an approach, but: a) it would definitely be something that you wouldn't mind getting on a p2p network for, as more nodes mean better performance, b) they could offer "supernodes" strategically located to speed up paid content, and that is a true value-add, c) if anyone has the technical chops to try it, the Skype guys do.
  • Democracy Player (Score:4, Informative)

    by hey (83763) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @09:51AM (#15775654) Journal
    There is already the Democracy Player.
    http://www.getdemocracy.com/ [getdemocracy.com]
    It uses all the right buzz words but didn't seem so great when I tried it.
  • They already built Kazaa. Kazaa works fine. Kazaa has been rebuilt in the form of a half dozen other programs. The licensing is much easier for TV shows and the like- there is none.
  • Competition is ALWAYS good. It is frustrating when the same content is not available on all mediums however.
  • Skype creators = Google minus $10 billion dollars
  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Tuesday July 25, 2006 @11:05AM (#15776121)
    Plus Kazaa also had porn, which automatically makes it the better program...
  • Dear Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis,

    This already exists. It is called "BitTorrent".

    Regards,
    People Who Know(tm)
    • The thing is, BitTorrent doesn't do streaming. It handles static files. This system seems to be what I've been waiting for: BitTorrent for streams.

      First of all, let me say, I hope this is open. More often than not, I've wished that I had the bandwidth to push out a video stream. Sort of a "make your own TV station" type of thing. I've got a dedicated box with hefty bandwidth, and audio streaming is no problem, but when you start talking about 256 or 500 kbit video, you can't go very far. And so, I hope that
  • Yeah I know, not really related, but I cannot believe this has not made it to slashdot yet: Preview release 1.5.0.47 [skype.com]
  • BitTorrent and P2P aside, maybe they'll just do a big server/big pipe and "x seconds until your stream is available" model. I mean, if the demand is that high, surely it will be easier to manage ad sales,etc. if everything's coming from one place... which should make it easier to expand as well, because you just keep adding systems until you can handle the new bandwidth, then charge for more ads, add more machines, and repeat.
  • Couple this service with wireless networks and we get the...

    TV show Friis free space propagation

    *rimshot*
  • Well, y'know, my real hope is that they're doing this so that they can perfect a realtime streaming video feed similar to what you'd find in Real Networks ... er, only one that would actually stream data in a manner that was condusive to the particular network ...

    I simply mean my hope would be that Skype is doing this to streamline Video-over-IP, to offer Video+speaker phones along with those new WiFi phones, So you can see who you're talking to while you're talking to them --- although this wouldn't be
  • For people who want to check it out: http://www.zattoo.com/ [zattoo.com]

    It's not P2P but normal TV streaming.

Wherever you go...There you are. - Buckaroo Banzai

Working...