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Media The Internet

Peer-to-Peer Internet Television 123

Lanaki writes "A non-profit based in Austin, TX is merging the free software and Copyleft communities through a new internet TV station: ACTLab TV. They are streaming Creative Commons, Copyleft, public domain content, and original videos using Alluvium software and their own media player. It's all open source, encouraging others to make their own audio and video streams. Their website was released this week and the player and demo stream will go public next week."
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Peer-to-Peer Internet Television

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  • TSS (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ch0p ( 798613 )
    I'd expect to see The Screen Savers switch to this format, instead of a podcast.
    • I doubt that would happen. It is more cost efficient for tWiT to podcast because it only requires audio recording, which is less time consuming to edit than video recording. It would be nice to see systm or from the shadows utilize this medium.
      • No need to a podcast to stay audio.

        I can well imagine a future version of ipodder/itunes which allows you to podcast .mov files.
  • neet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amouth ( 879122 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:02AM (#12813113)
    sounds like a winner if they don't make it too mushed up.. but how are they going to make money to keep it alive.??
    • Re:neet (Score:4, Funny)

      by /ASCII ( 86998 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:17AM (#12813301) Homepage
      Same model as any open source software, by offering paid support for people who have endured the programs!
    • Re:neet (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:32AM (#12813483) Journal
      2 words:
      video spam
      I'm joking (I think).

      Seriously, how long before the marketroids try to appropriate this? Only time will tell. My bet is it'll be a race between them and Google.

      • It's existed in email form for over a year: Somebody started tying marketing onto "funny" video clips, and made extravagant guesses about how many people would forward the video to all their friends and relatives, thus also forwarding the connected ad.
        • Reminds me of what I did a while back - made a demo porn site (showed 3 lesbians in an interesting sequence of events), along with an ad plastered in one frame.

          I still think it would work - everyone who looked at it would let the sequence run over and over and .... well, you get the point.

          I figure marketing has to be beneficial to both parties ... wel, long story short, ended up doing something "more conventional". Damn!

      • ...and Tivo. This tech will eventually make it to set-top-boxes if it's given a chance.
    • PORn

      • Better (or worse, depending on your perspective) AMATEUR porn. Anybody with a bedroom and a server and bandwidth can become the Porn King!

        Now who do I know is hot?

        Oh, wait, never mind.
    • Re:neet (Score:3, Funny)

      by jpellino ( 202698 )
      Must be some ex-Apple. The T-Shirts are available now.
      At cost no less! Oh.
      Blast. So much for making money.
    • They're using University (state) owned equipment, bandwidth, etc.. There are rules about how they can use it. Making money is not allowed, unless they are set up as an "Auxiliary Enterprise" (as with the University's public radio station, KUT [kut.org]). That requires all sorts of funny stuff, like business plans, auditing and picking up the tab for their operation costs (e.g. KUT hosts their site and streams from a private ISP). I wonder if this status has been obtained.
  • by ProfaneBaby ( 821276 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:03AM (#12813120)
    Note the launch of Vobbo [vobbo.com] (live video blogs) as an example.

    Bandwidth is cheap. Disk space is cheap. Video is going to be very big, very soon.
    • I'd be interested to see if "video blogs" could take off.

      I'll start by admitting that I don't quite get blogs, even just the text ones. The signal to noise ratio is too low to interest me.

      That out of the way, I understand why some people like them: it's an alternative entertainment and news source. People read them at their desks, during work or during "surfing time" at home, when they're not watching TV.

      Podcast blogs get time you spend away from your computer: exercising, driving, on the bus, etc. Your
    • *Upstream* is not. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EvilStein ( 414640 )
      4mbit down, 384kbps up... typical Comcast cable modem.
      1.5mbit down, 128-384kbps up.. typical SBC DSL line.

      *Downloading* a video blog might not be too much of a hassle, but *uploading* one is going to turn a lot of people off from it.

      Let's not forget all of the poor saps that are still on dialup. ;)
  • Big Whoop (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 14erCleaner ( 745600 ) <FourteenerCleaner@yahoo.com> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:03AM (#12813122) Homepage Journal
    Wow, it's like public-access cable TV, only world-wide. Whoopee.
    • Re:Big Whoop (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trigun ( 685027 )
      Hey, some very good programming can be found on cable-access. Many old horror shows came out of local broadcast, and when those channels had to go to networks, the cable access took over. MST3k got its start on local access, and anyone over 40 can remember the local shows featuring clowns showing cartoons on Saturday mornings, and personalities such as the Ghoul or Zacherly, which graced only local markets.
      • This indeed is the promising aspect of this -- good shows will get passed around the usual Internet ways (memepool, boingboing, /., etc.) and become "popular".

        Then, who knows? Maybe cable types will pick them out to be producers, or whatnot. It could be InternetTV:cable::blogs:news ; which is to say, not a replacement, but the best and brightest get cred and can make a living doing it.
    • I, for one, welcome this medium. Since I made my switch to DirecTV a few years ago the one thing I miss on cable was the public access stations, there is so much great content that can be found on PA stations.
    • Re:Big Whoop (Score:3, Insightful)

      by /ASCII ( 86998 )
      What advantage does this have over regular public-access cable:
      • Your show is always on prime time, which probably doubles your audience
      • Your show is distributed all over the world, which probably increases the audience by an order of magnitude
      • Once the technology becomes mainstream, more people can watch stuff like this from work, which probably increases your audience by an order of magnitude.

      So, given the above information, and some usage statistics about public access television, we can conclude

    • Some friends of mine had a very long-running and fairly successful cable access show entitled, "Fusion Patrol," in Phoenix, that ran weekly for many seasons, and actually had a fairly decent following. They made fun of science fiction and mainstream TV shows and the personalities behind those shows, with a little of other stuff along with. They got cancelled when they made an episode parodying awards shows with, "The Limp Cable Awards", which got them banned by COX Cable due to the political incorrectness
    • Re:Big Whoop (Score:3, Interesting)

      by birkhouse ( 756987 )
      The point of public access isn't necessarily in the quality of programs as perceived by the mass market public, but rather that it provides what could be construed as quality programming by a narrow niche of the populace. There is probably a public access television program out there for everyone, with the limiting factor being the availability of the resource to the producers of the content. This technology could possibly provide for a nearly unlimited television resource with little oversight. People c
    • Tom Green got his start doing a cable access show in Ottawa, Canada, which is about as small a market as you get. A friend of mine was a producer on the show for a year or two. The thing about that show was that it never stopped being a cable access show... it just moved from network to network, picking up a larger cable access-type audience as it went. If you can get one or two of those types of shows to a broader worldwide audience through this medium, I'm sure you could rival the ratings that Tom got
      • The only question is how to cash in on it

        Yeah, we can definitely see how it worked out for Tom Green. He's doing what now?

        His rise and fall highlights the fact that there is stuff on Cable Access that people will watch (note the avoidance of the word 'quality'). On the other hand, calbe access is mostly crap television that would not get an airing anywhere else.
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by w.p.richardson ( 218394 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:04AM (#12813130) Homepage
    Internet Cable Access...

    Wayne's World! Party time! Excellent!

  • Epileptics beware! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:04AM (#12813134) Homepage Journal

    Why do they feel the need to surround their text with agressivly flashing graphics?

    I couldn't get past the first paragraph before I'd had enough of this. Call me back when they offer a non-stroboscopic version of their content.
  • I'm glad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aonaran ( 15651 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:07AM (#12813166) Homepage
    I was wondering when someone was going to try and organize Creative Commons stuff into a central TV station that people can go to.
    The name isn't very good. ACTLab doesn't feel like a name for a place to go for media... but that's ok.

    Good timing on the /. announcement. If there is no media or software to download yet they might not be slashdotted.
  • This reminds me of the dinky little community station we have around here that use and abuse public domain TV shows as much as they can. Except this one is digital. There is a lot of great content out there, as long as the people who made it don't want much money for it.

    The main problem here is the competition. There are a lot of other p2p places that don't charge a cent. They just happen to be illegal though.
    • Hi - I'm a member of the ACTLab TV team and I wanted to respond to the issues you brought up concerning competition and legality.
      As for the former issue, we're not about that. We also don't charge a cent. Not only can you watch our television station for free, we show you how to make your own for relatively the same amount. We are a non-profit organization, and we are funded by the money we have in our pockets (spent the last of it on a Slurpee about an hour ago). The only other means of financing the s
  • guys start streaming copyrighted stuff via P2P streams? This technology may be shot down by the *.AAs as evil, because it could be used for piracy.
    • Yeah, BitTorrent was shot down by the *.AAs as evil, and its been forced into obscurity now. No-one uses a free-of-charge product after it has gotten wide-spread free publicity from a corporate giant such as the RIAA or MPAA.
  • Bit Torrent TV (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StreetFire.net ( 850652 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:14AM (#12813257) Homepage
    I would love to see a player built on a Bit-Torrent type solution, but unfortunatly, Bit Torrnet has some limitations for on-demand streaming.

    BT doesn't have a "click/watch" type solution. BT is only good for asynchronous delivery of content due to it's download nature. That said, if a future version of BT provided for buffer-demanded priority queing, this would solve the problem. That is my "player" plugged into BT, would know that the next 30 seconds of content is Very high priority, the following 30 seconds is high priority, the next 30 seconds is low priority and the following 30 seconds is very low priority. This could evolve from an MPLS style label switching paradigm of some sort (in model only, not saying to use actual MPLS, rather some of the MPLS best Practices combined with BT).

    Just some thoughts.

    • Swarmstreaming, I believe kids are calling it these days..:-P

      These guys [onionnetworks.com] claim to have such a solution; I was just researching this stuff yesterday out of curiosity. Can't find any reviews or examples of people using it in order to determine if it actually works, though.
      • Too many syllables. Call it "sweeming" instead. In fact, if it works we'll all be sweeming in a sea of video.
      • Interesting, though. They claim to be the originator of swarming technology and have a "strong intellectual property position" with regards to it, etc. etc. Bram Cohen might be able to dispute that, of course. Makes me wonder if they're just another Eolas.
    • Re:Bit Torrent TV (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @12:02PM (#12813899)
      And suddenly we have a world where people can only watch the first half of a show because all the seeds drop off once the show is finished and never upload the last 30 sec to anyone.

      No thanks, I'd rather have the current setup where the most rare piece is the highest priority and simply "Tivo" the shows.
    • That's a fantastic idea. It's even easily doable, it's just a change on the client, not the protocol really.
    • That is my "player" plugged into BT, would know that the next 30 seconds of content is Very high priority, the following 30 seconds is high priority, the next 30 seconds is low priority and the following 30 seconds is very low priority.

      That would be good, but another possibility would be a subscription model: tell BT what shows you are interested in, and it downloads the latest episodes whenever they become available... then the next day you come in to see what's on and everything is already on your har

    • Bittornado has this... numb nutz.
    • BT doesn't have a "click/watch" type solution. BT is only good for asynchronous delivery of content due to it's download nature.
      Check out Dijjer [dijjer.org], its free (as in speech) and downloads files in-sequence as if from a HTTP server. As such, you can watch these files embedded in web pages as they come in from the P2P network.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <wesley@felter.org> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:16AM (#12813297) Homepage
    Broadcast Machine [participatoryculture.org] is a similar thing (which I'm sure has been mentioned on Slashdot before), but it's not live. I'm not really sure what the benefit of the live broadcast model is when the Internet can better support a video-on-demand model.
  • Expect to see a lot of college porn. I can see a new industry, P2P UT Pr0n
  • How long until the rest of you non-austiners get to watch some OBT productions? (Anyone familure with Austin's public access should have atleast seen some of his shows. Ol' Bitty was the most longing ran one that I remember, Currently doing Clown Time.

    Of course, the reason his shows are so good is they're uncensored un-prescreened call in with the random locals that are up at 1am. This will kind of take that community feel away.
  • I wonder what would happen if they managed to incorporate subscription fees or other pay models into the software?

    I'm thinking such a move would generate a humongous business opportunity for all involved.
  • by Raindeer ( 104129 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:30AM (#12813467) Homepage Journal
    Snif, I still miss Slashdot Radio. But now, thanks to this technology we can get Slashdot video. We will be able to see Cowboyneal and CmdrTaco getting it on in one great geek lovefest on geek subjects.

    But really, Slashdot Radio was one of those "programs" a group of people worldwide listened too, just because it was there and it appealed to them. This kind of technology makes this possible for others as well. Sure you might not be interested in the Dutch Open Student competition rock climbing, but a couple of hundred people might. Peer to peer makes it possible to distribute footage without reducing your upstream to one bit/second/customer.

    BTW BBC makes use of Kontiki for their peer to peer distribution of their TV programs and I can see other public TV starting that as well. There is no other way you can easily let 1 million people download the 8 o'clock news beteween 20:10 and 00:10 without jamming your internet connection.

    Peer to peer is the holy grail of networking.
    • I wonder how much latency we can expect. Could you do a live call-in show using this and skype/asterix?

    • thanks to this technology we can get Slashdot video

      Great. So now I can see the editors discuss the exact same thing three times a day? And then again a month later? No thanks. :-)
    • Snif, I still miss Slashdot Radio. But now, thanks to this technology we can get Slashdot video.

      Check out Systm.org [systm.org].

      The first episode, Build a Wireless Camera Detector, was interesting. Building the box. Then driving around looking for people's X10 wireless cameras, especially security cameras. Sneaking around and whispering at 2AM.

      The second episode, Build your own MythTV box, sounds interesting, but I have not seen it yet.

      We will be able to see Cowboyneal and CmdrTaco getting it on in one
    • Peer to peer is the holy grail of networking.

      Nonsense. It's the hot thing right now, but many things could be implimented that would make it look quaint, obsolete, wasteful, pointless, etc.

      What if, after the adoption of IPv6, multicasting wasn't blocked? Requiring only enough bandwidth to upload a file once, you could send it to an unlimited number of people using multicasting, and without requiring them to sacrifice any of their upload bandwidth either.

      What if ISPs finally start seriously doing inte

  • sub 384kbps upstream BW on USA 'broadband' service is blocking a huge opportunity for small scale P2P broadcasting. Heck, BW is so tight that decent quality stereo audio via distributed distribution is impractical nigh impossible...

    of course you won't be seeing any upstream broadband, even though it's technically possible and as cheap to add to docsis 2 systems as additional downstream. why? because it foils the 'we are in control of broadcasting' mindset of the providers.

    what we need is some rules simil
  • I read through this a bit and got to think that I was surprised that ABC, CBS, and NBC haven't already tried to do this (since they get their revenue from advertising, this would expand their advertising base)... so I decided to look to see if they had even planned to do it. I didn't find anything on plans for them to offer web broadcasts, however I did find this...

    http://mediahopper.com/portal.htm [mediahopper.com]
    An information hub for international live and pre-recorded web broadcasts.... apparantely this is not such a
  • by Homology ( 639438 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @11:48AM (#12813697)
    I looked around the site for the license, but the closest I could find was :

    ACTLab TV is built upon the philosophy of open source and Copyleft media.

    An actual license text is appreciated.

  • Anyone has the torrent ?

    Please forgive the poster, he's not in a good mood.
  • Winamp already does this with their Media Library. They have near hundreds of streams from people, it definatly worth a look. I mean, how else can you watch simpsons, futurama, and seinfeld while at work?
    • Winamp's TV(still in beta IMO) is a miserable failure. 99% of the streams are unavailable. All slots filled, and that's usually stations running bittorrented TV shows.

      The remaining 1% is community programming, like you see on the public cable channels nobody watches. Oh, and the porn advertisement streams. They figured out how to get pop-up ads working in about a week, but a simple pref change turned that off.

      And then if you do get a foot into one of the better winamp TV streams, there's still lag issues
    • I am a member of the ACTLab team. I would be happy to explain why Winamp is different. It has a pretty cool streaming Media Library with the simpsons & other cartoons. As you may have noticed though..... It's not actually bandwith-efficient. They are locked to a certain # of users, per bandwith. So they are often full because the winamp video streams are limited to a small # of users. Our p2p technology allows for us to scale up with an impressive amount of users. Also, It's not 24 hour strea
  • Q. Who gets to decide what content gets shown?

    The members of the ACTLab TV community sort through submissions and organize them into thematically-related programs. While we won't be able to show everything we're given, we will go through it all and serve you the very best. To learn more about the people who run ACTLab TV stop by our PEOPLE page.

    Well, we shall see just how far they support the concept of free speech..
    I see people go on all the time about it but they only REALLY support free speech that
    • Well, the thing is that probably most of the people who are interested in or involved in this sort of p2p internet thing, either on the coding or content side all realize that we Americans are basting from birth in a sea of corporate-cultural, anti-collectivist propaganda. This is more or less a leftist thing.

      Most of us are big into "social history", which more or less means studying history with a bottom-up perspective, a leftist perspective, actually. So we already know that the big money has ALWAYS domi
    • Well, we shall see just how far they support the concept of free speech..

      I didn't read anything about censoring material that they found disagreeable. It only said they would organize, and publish the best content. (For some definition of best.) It seemed to me to be more about filtering out cruft.

      This is the Internet. Just like you can run your own web site, or blog, you can set up and run your very own streaming tv system. In time, the barriers to doing so will become very low. Probably like r
    • Well, download alluvium and run your own internet tv station. Done. actlab.tv is one instantiation of a TV station/mini-network of "channels" -- nothing stopping you from running your own.

      In fact, that's kinda the point.
  • Great! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GMFTatsujin ( 239569 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @12:09PM (#12813982) Homepage
    I like that projects like these are under active development and getting a lot of attention.

    I have to ask, though, why require the download of yet *another* media application to use it?

    Would it be possible to make a plugin of the protocol for gstreamer, WMP, or any of the already established multimedia players?
    • Uh, have you used VLC? OK, so its UI is horrible, but it plays everything, and does it well. It's a geek's dream come true for video playing. And it can transcode, stream over wireless ethernet (so you can have a movie server and stream to a laptop with a small HDD without sneakernetting movies across every time.

    • I have to ask, though, why require the download of yet *another* media application to use it?

      They explain why in their tech section. Different players fall flat on different things that are required for this. Most players don't handle changes in the resolution of playing streams very well.

      Would it be possible to make a plugin of the protocol for gstreamer, WMP, or any of the already established multimedia players?

      Of course it would. It's just MP3 and H.264, along with their variation on swarmcast

  • To really get traction, these people are going to have to get people to encode video for their special system, get people to install their special system and get their friends to do the same.

    However, there are pieces already out there for this sort of thing that people are already using. RSS to track a program for new episodes. Bittorrent to distribute. FFMpeg (and others) for codec/format support.

    There is no practical reason to reinvent the wheel as far as these basic components. But there is a very
  • Coolstreaming is another application that uses p2p idea for realtime TV. It's developed by a guy in Hong Kong. It's been around for quite some time. Yeah they used it for cable TV there with thousands of users and really good streaming quality, so they're now shut down due to copyright issue.

    http://www.coolstreaming.org/ [coolstreaming.org]

  • by dspyder ( 563303 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @12:56PM (#12814565)
    I know most of you guys don't, but I choose to watch TV in my family room. On my big plasma TV. Where's the set-top-box that can easily find, select, and play this content? I heard they're doing IPTV for porn sites, are those boxes useful for anything else like this? --D
    • I know most of you guys don't, but I choose to watch TV in my family room. On my big plasma TV.


      It's me, Kathy from next door. (I use this dumb alias online cause Tom doesn't like me using my real name on the interweb.)

      Anyways, Tom and I are sorry about the kids, your family room picture window, and the baseball.

      We are really, really sorry about your TV. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get home.



  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @01:05PM (#12814663) Homepage
    Unlike these new guys, who are all player, no content, visit the Internet Archive Moving Images collection [archive.org]. They have actual content. 5344 open source movies and counting, plus a big collection of historical films.

    And you don't need some wierd player, either. The Internet Archive offers video in about five different formats, including editable quality versions for use in other works.

    • Hi. I'm a member of the ACTLab TV team and I'd like to address something in your post. First of all, archive.org is a repository of content, whereas we are a television station. We do already have lots of content that we will soon be streaming 24 hours a day. In addition, we will be creating our own content, accepting submitted content, and streaming content from other sources (for example, the Internet Archive Moving Images Collection). Another major difference is that you will not have to go looking
      • We will be sorting through and organizing all our material into themed blocks and programs, and you will be able to watch them continuously in a high-quality stream.

        And that's the problem. It's taking the Internet back to 1950s technology, where you watch when they want you to watch. Push technology died years ago. The Internet is a "pull" medium.

        Ever hear of Magnaband? [magnaband.net] They're an "internet TV station". Up for years. Nobody watches. Even though they have a "celebrity trials news" channel.

        • It's taking the Internet back to 1950s technology, where you watch when they want you to watch.

          Just because something is old, doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it. How old is the CRT technology that your monitor is based-on?

          You can, of course, time-shift these streams even easier than you can time-shift TV, if pull is really your thing.

          Ever hear of Magnaband? They're an "internet TV station". Up for years. Nobody watches.

          No, I haven't heard of them, which may be the problem. More than tha

  • What happened to all those crazy Internet radio stations that used to play short films by new directors?

    I remember seeing this movie about a mental patient who met a couple of evangelists on the street, and kept winding one of them up by claiming to be the last angel. Eventually one of the evangelists gets mad, decks the guy and then the sky turns black.

  • peercast? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Hasn`t peercast [peercast.org] being doing this for about 3 years so far?

    theres alot more interesting content on their Yellow pages [peercast.org] too. 200+ channels etc.
  • For those who doesn't know, a lot of people have been using Cool Streaming to watch some Asian sport channels using the same concept as BT. This might be new in that you can actually broadcast something, but in terms of watching TV using BT engine, that's not something totally new.


The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.