The P2P cryptocurrency Bitcoin has been a hot topic in the tech world this year, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the BitTorrent community.
Dozens of prominent sites and trackers, including The Pirate Bay, have added support for Bitcoin donations in recent months. Perhaps more excitingly, several BitTorrent developers are exploring options to integrate the currency more closely into BitTorrent software.
The people behind FrostWire are working hard to add Bitcoin address support to torrent meta-data, so users can send donations to content creators and tracker owners, directly from the client.
“The idea is to let users enter an optional Bitcoin address and suggested donation amount along with the torrent they’re about to create on FrostWire,” FrostWire‘s Angel Leon tells TorrentFreak.
“When FrostWire encounters a .torrent with the Bitcoin address field set, FrostWire will be able to display a Bitcoin icon on the transfer row in the GUI. When clicked, FrostWire could try to open a Bitcoin client, or take the user to a website which will enable them to copy the address, or scan a QR code,” Leon adds.
According to the FrostWire team this Bitcoin integration will encourage content creators to share, and let the fans show some love and support to their favorite artists. In addition to showing donation buttons in BitTorrent clients, torrent sites can also show this information in their search results.
The FrostWire team has pitched the idea to other developers who responded positively. The next step is to submit an official “BitTorrent Enhancement Proposal” (BEP) where Bitcoin metadata will become part of the core BitTorrent protocol.
The proposal will enable developers to integrate Bitcoin even further, making it possible for clients to talk to the Bitcoin network and come up with new business models for content creators.
FrostWire, for example, plans to add a Bitcoin wallet to their client so users can easily send donations to tracker operators or content creators.
“Our implementation plan includes adding a simplified Bitcoin wallet to FrostWire, users can send Bitcoins to their FrostWire Bitcoin wallet which can then be used to support their favorite content creators,” Leon says.
However, these direct donations are just one of the many possibilities Bitcoin integration will offer. Another option would be to allow creators to set an amount people will have to pay before the torrent can be shared. While this paywall idea is definitely not the main motivation behind bringing Bitcoin to BitTorrent, it does open up endless possibilities to monetize content within the BitTorrent ecosystem.
“I think it’d be a great evolutionary step for BitTorrent as a whole, deep Bitcoin integration could be what the Movie Rental industry was to VCRs, for BitTorrent and the big media industry. They will have to see that it’s a pretty darn attractive proposition being able to collect all that revenue without paying for merchant fees and not even pay for the bandwidth to distribute the content.”
For now, the FrostWire’s team first step is to discuss the BEP proposal with other developers in the BitTorrent community forums. When there is agreement on the finer details they will submit an official proposal.
But whether it’s through an official protocol extension or not, FrostWire is moving full stream ahead with their plans to integrate Bitcoin.