Vuze, an application that allows users to search, browse, and download “DVD and HD-quality” video content using the peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent, has petitioned the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to restrict Internet traffic throttling by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Vuze’s timing is important. John Hart filed suit in a California state court Tuesday against Comcast, which offers ISP services. The suit alleges that Comcast’s secret use of technology to limit peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent violates federal computer fraud laws, the contracts users have with Comcast, and anti-fraudulent advertising statutes. Hart wants the court to force Comcast to stop interfering with Internet traffic. (Wired report.)
Since it uses the peer-to-peer protocol BitTorrent, Vuze has been keenly aware of Comcast and the “bandwidth shaping” issue. Vuze filed its “Petition for Rulemaking” (PDF) to urge the FCC to adopt regulations limiting Internet traffic throttling, a practice by which ISPs block or slow the speed at which Internet content, including video files, can be uploaded or downloaded.
“Now is the time to embrace the sea changes in entertainment consumption that are occurring,” said Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa in a release. “The rapid convergence of the entertainment and Internet industries has enabled the delivery of high-quality video, and these throttling tactics represent growing pains as ISPs resist inevitable change.
“We hope our petition will trigger a pubic discussion, but we also need the FCC to act. The industry needs transparency into what ISPs are doing and an environment that fosters innovation in online entertainment.”
At issue is whether “throttling” should be allowed. “Throttling” is often characterized by ISPs as “network management” or “traffic shaping”, which Vuze and others contend interferes with the consumer Internet experience.
If these tactics continue unchecked, Vuze contends, the openness and fairness of the public Internet could be called into question.
In an email to last100, Vuze explained that one of the petition’s aims is to get ISPs, P2P providers, content creators and consumers to contribute to a discussion on the issue and help develop future solutions.