China Taking P2P to the Next Level?

With a relaxed regulatory environment unlike the US, Chinese developers have created file-sharing protocols that offer downloads 50 times faster than BitTorrent and real-time streaming of DVD quality video.

It’s no secret that China is emerging as an economic powerhouse in its own right, developing a burgeoning manufacturing industry that produces everything from cars to iPods, but it’s also rapidly developing a P2P and file-sharing services industry that people of other countries like here in the US could only dream of.

In a recent interview with Kaiser Kuo, Ogilvy China’s digital guru and web 2.0 expert, discussed the rapid growth of P2P and file-sharing services in China in contrast to the United States where its growth has long been hampered by copyright concerns and the lack of effective DRM restrictions.

China’s relaxed regulatory environment in regards to copyright infringement and enforcement and has made it possible for P2P services to be where Kuo says some of the “finest minds have gone” and developed “incredibly fast protocols on their own.”

An example is that has created a client that is reportedly an unbelievably 50 times faster than BitTorrent! The amazing download speeds lie in the fact that it is “really, really aggressive in being able to grab bandwidth from available resources.”

As an example of the speeds made possible by Blin he describes how he had his wife set out to watch the TV show “24” season 6 in DVD quality from start to the moment of actual viewing. From the moment she entered the keyword “Blin” in a search engine, visited the site, downloaded and installed the client, and was actually able to watch it with 2.2% downloaded a measly 3 minutes had passed! That’s right, it took a whole 3 minutes to begin watching DVD quality video content. Try that with BitTorrent.

Now to be fair, what Kuo’s internet connection speeds are isn’t stated in the video, but it nonetheless is an interesting feat by any P2P or file-sharing standards.

The most interesting thing to note from his interview is the fact that P2P and file-sharing services enjoy so much free reign in China, and that developers have the ability to innovate and create new clients and protocols without too much fear of government or corporate interference.

Here in the US and pretty much anywhere else the MPAA and RIAA are allowed to have their way, content seems to take precedence over its distribution, thus hindering the development of new P2P and file-sharing services for consumers. The effect is that digital distribution is stifled to a snails pace, and that we have one of those rare cases where laws impede technological advancement and progress.

Without the approval of copyright holders groups like the RIAA and MPAA and effective content filtering mechanism in place, new P2P and file-sharing upstarts have no chance to succeed. As a result, “the finest minds,” whom Kuo says describes many of those who have entered China’s P2P services market, don’t want to get involved in their development here in the US and elsewhere. They don’t want to get embroiled in nightmarish talks with copyright holders demanding a still elusive 100% DRM protection scheme for their content, or even worse, be potentially held label for any instances of copyright infringement that the P2P service may allow to occur.

The risk is great for it means that China will inevitably be the leader in products and services that deliver content to consumers quickly and efficiently. Web 2.0 is supposed to herald a social network revolution, but so long as the creation of faster and more effective P2P – peer to peer – solutions is hampered it may mean that Web 2.0 may become a reality for some and languish as just a dream for others.