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Azureus Vuze Brings on the HD Video

Azureus has taken the wraps off Vuze, a media-friendly revamp of the Zudeo peer-to-peer file sharing application—and it aims to make distributing long-form, high-definition video via the Internet a reality.

“Vuze recognizes that the next generation online video experience lies within the integration of licensed and self-published content showcased in a theater-like viewing environment,” said Gilles BianRosa, CEO of Azureus. “The millions who make up the Vuze community—publishers, editors and viewers—can share long-form video and download licensed content, and experience it in high definition on their own computer or plasma screen.”

Vuze is a BitTorrent client, but takes great pains to appear to the user like a media center application rather than as a notoriously tweaky peer-to-peer sharing application—the idea is that peer-to-peer technology will be more efficient than streaming when it comes to pulling HD content over the Internet, particularly as Vuze ramps up more users. Azureus has been in beta since 2006 under the codename Zudeo, and currently claims more than two million users a month.

Azureus has also lined up major content partners, including A&E, Showtime, the History Channel, National Geographic, and the BBC, which will be offering its hit series Sorted in the U.S. for the first time via Vuze. Sorted will be offered in HD, although a great deal of content initial available via Vuze is offered in standard definition. Vuze also has deals to carry Showtime’s Weeds,Dexter, and The L Word.

Vuze has opened its doors to a variety of content partners, from individual filmmakers (you’ll find fan flicks here) to major distributors. For the moment, publishers who want to make their content available for sale or rent need to get in touch with Azureus directly, but the company plans to introduce an automated mechanism for offering commercial content via the service; lext week, the company plans to announce an ad partnership. While the Vuze application is available for a variety of operating systems, the vast majority (all?) the media available via Vuze requires Windows Media Player. Typical rental and sale prices for items on Vuze seem to be $0.99 and $1.99 respectively, but publishers are apparently able to set their own prices.

Azureus claims their Zudeo beta offering garnered tremendous interest from the online video community; it remains to be seen whether that interest can translate into a high-def-capable offering capable of taking on YouTube or the forthcoming Joost.

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