What is InterStream’s Long-Term Vision?

Ok, ok, ok... enough emails already... I realize we've stirred the pot with our anti-piracy proposal to "mediate the premium tier Internet" and in putting together an Oversight Board. So, now I'm being asked what is our "real vision" for InterStream. Well, truth is, I've always felt that InterStream shouldn't really have to exist -- even if we're just getting ISTP as the end-to-end high bandwidth streaming protocol across the Internet. Open source groups like the Linux Legal Defense Fund, and others can take care of patent vulture challenges the emerging code base might face. Other organizations like the IETF and W3C can take care of "long-term standardization" of ISTP and ISML, respectively. The Open Source Peering agreement will, as I expect, evolve over time to support new business models and wholesale agreements. This can be accomodated through existing forums like NANOG. I haven't found any group that can take on the last item: the InterStream Terms of Service Agreement (ITOSA). Piracy is a real problem and we need to make sure overly draconian measure aren't taken while preserving our basic Internet freedoms on a tiered network.

My vision for the InterStream as an association has been to create a place where the "DVD Forum meets the Mozilla Foundation". It is a unique and compelling value proposition to the industry. We It is a unique and compelling value proposition to the industry. We need to push an open source code base and engineer the system so that it meets the needs of the media industry while adhering to the principles of an "open Internet". I have to admit when I first started this project I was not endeared with the concept for a large "standards body", or other political organization that would just create a bureacratic nightmare later on. I just didn't believe we had any other choice than to do so. The name, concept, architecture, protocols, media grid approach, all rather naturally evolved to the point where we just needed to get some buy-in and support from across the industry.

Some people around me may claim that something like InterStream should have been started and supported years ago by the motion picture and television industries. This view holds that the media industry, in general, has always fought rather than embraced new technologies like the Internet. What we've seen with the recording industry is simply going to happen once again with video entertainment. I have to admit I've occasionally had this point of view as well. I can certainly say that this is the concensus amongst investors on Sand Hill Road. One thing is for certain, however. Something like television is going to emerge over the Internet. A solution like the one we're putting forward in our pilot could offer a much better experience than current TV, and give us a superior advertising revenue models. Piracy becomes the big gotcha in this whole equation. Ultimately, unless the consumer has a better experience, at a reasonable price and many, many options for content, she is going to become a pirate using the likes of BitTorrent. In my recent experiece, I've found the media industry has always wanted to embrace new revenue models like the Internet can offer. They just don't know how it can be supported by evolving from their current TV paradigm while thwarting those pirates. InterStream offers them that solution.

So where do we want to take all of this. In the ideal case, InterStream dissolves itself or shrinks after we've completed Phase III of the Pilot. The basic tasks will have been completed and however the oversight board determines the Terms of Service agreement should be managed will shape that future. I see these as relatively straightforward activities that will not take a great deal of time, money or energy. In fact, I think an overt goal should be to keep it that way.

So, in response to various opionions I've had on this subject, we've created a new LinkedIn group, the "Anti-Piracy Forum". We want to engage in all topics of conversation related to thwarting piracy on the mediated Internet. We're also interested in discussing the future direction of InterStream. Please sign up if you have interest in any of those topics.

Jeff Turner


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