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Gonzo Shares Anime on Peer-to-Peer Network in Japan (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
Titles include Speed Grapher; system co-developed by prosecuted Winny creator

Dreamboat, a Japanese online content distributor, has announced with the media company GDH that Dreamboat's SkeedCast peer-to-peer (P2P) digital content distribution platform is starting to distribute material from GDH's anime studio Gonzo and game company Gonzo Rosso K.K. on December 26. The experimental service offers the 24-episode Speed Grapher anime series, the 7-episode Project Papo series, and the streaming trailer of the upcoming The Tower of Druaga: The Aegis of Uruk series for a limited one-year test period.

Each release will include digital rights management to limit copying. Each 30-minute Speed Grapher episode is being offered for 1,000 yen (about US$9.00) for standard-definition resolution or 1,500 yen (US$13.00) for high-definition resolution. However, until January 31, 2008, Speed Grapher episodes will be offered for half price. Each 2.5-minute Project Papo episode is being offered for 150 yen (US$1.30) for standard-definition, high-definition, or ultra-high-definition resolution. For now Druaga is being offered only as a streaming trailer.

According to GDH, the trial will evaluate how P2P networks can reduce the strain on servers and network bandwidth use and how P2P networks can be used for a new business model. P2P Network Experimental Council, a group co-founded by University of Tokyo professor Tohru Asami on August 9, is observing the results in a experiment supported by Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications. Arthur Smith, president of GDH International (the GDH-owned company in charge of global business), has spoken about unauthorized anime distribution. He also wrote an open letter addressing this issue and what the industry can do. Another Japanese company, Kadokawa Shoten, is also testing the use of a peer-to-peer network to distribute anime episodes and trailers.

Unmentioned in either Dreamboat or GDH's press release is the fact that one of the developers of SkeedCast is Isamu Kaneko. As a onetime engineering graduate student, Kaneko created the Winny program that became Japan's first popular peer-to-peer file-sharing program. He was convicted of assisting copyright violations on December 13, 2006 and sentenced to pay 1.5 million yen (US$13,000). Kaneko is currently appealing the conviction.

Errata American dollar conversion for Kaneko's fine corrected. Thanks, frubam.

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