Freenet developer to create commercial apps

Ian Clarke, who last year created a stir by challenging all copyright law using his Freenet peer-to-peer software as his weapon, has received $4 million from Intel and other investors to create commercial applications based on the software.

Under the terms of the deal, Clarke's startup company, Uprizer Inc., which formally launched operations Tuesday, will use the money to continue its development of decentralized, distributed networking technology and expand its infrastructure and management team.

Uprizer and Intel Corp. signed another deal where Uprizer will offer its technology on Intel-based systems, and Intel will supply development systems to Uprizer.

When he debuted Freenet last year, Clarke said the purpose of the software, essentially file-sharing software somewhat similar to Gnutella and Napster, was to protect freedom of speech on the Internet. Freenet did this by giving its users complete anonymity.

But he also realized that given some of the technology's innate capabilities, most notably its scalability and flexibility, it could be adapted to many different commercial applications. He believes the technology can add benefits such as increasing both network efficiency and reliability and reduce total cost of network ownership.

"Freenet can adaptively move information closer to where the demand for it is. It can replicate popular information to reduce loads on individual computers in the network, is scalable, and can find information quickly, irrespective of the size of the network," Clarke said.

The outstanding difference in the software Uprizer develops compared with that for Freenet will be absence of those capabilities that shield users' identities. Clarke said the goal is to retain the positive qualities of the Freenet architecture but deliver software that is palatable to corporate users.

"Freenet's ability to provide anonymity is not really applicable in commercial applications. Besides, anarchies don't work very well in the business world," Clarke said.

Clarke and Rob Kramer, Uprizer's CEO, would not say specifically what direction Intel wants to see Uprizer take in terms of applications development. Kramer did say, however, that Intel does have some concrete ideas about where it wants to take the technology and believes Freenet's architecture can take it there.

"[Intel] wanted to invest in us because they believe in the architectural elements and technology behind Freenet. They are very supportive of the direction we are taking," Kramer said.

Under the deal with Intel, Los Angeles-based Uprizer retains its proprietary rights to how it wants to distribute and market its software. Clarke said he plans to license the software to third parties in favor of developing, at least initially, an organized development program for software developers.

Besides Intel, other investors in Uprizer include Kline Hawkes & Co. and Shugart Venture Fund.

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