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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the Open Content Network?

A: The Open Content Network is a peer-to-peer (P2P) content delivery network (CDN) for distributing open-source and public domain content. The OCN makes it easy for regular people to donate their spare computing resources to over-burdened websites that distribute free content.

The really cool thing about the OCN is that in addition to helping out a good cause, OCN users also receive the benefit of getting much faster downloads than a regular FTP or HTTP server can provide by itself.

Q: Why should I use the Open Content Network?

A: There are two main reasons to use the Open Content Network:

  • It’s a GOOD THING – By using the Open Content Network, some of your downloads come from other users’ computers, which helps to save a lot of money for the web sites that provide open content.
  • Fast Downloads – Due to the ability of the OCN to pool the resources of the peers in the network, users can often get much faster downloads through the OCN than directly from a regular FTP or HTTP server.

Q: Do I have to install special software to access the OCN?

A: Yes. The OCN uses peer-to-peer technology, which requires an OCN-compliant application to be installed. Over time, more and more applications will become available that support the OCN, allowing you to use your application of choice.

Q: Does OCN software contain spyware?

A: NO WAY! While the OCN doesn’t dictate what software is used to access the network, there is a set of requirements that must be met for an application to be considered “OCN-compliant” and endorsed by the Open Content Network. A key requirement is that OCN applications contain absolutely no spyware, trojans, adware, etc.

Q: Is the OCN itself Open Source?

A: All of the technical documents, protocol specifications, etc for the OCN are freely usable. However, specific applications that are considered OCN-compliant are not required to be open source.

Unlike many other projects, the focus is not on creating a single kitchen-sink implementation that tries to meet everyone’s needs. Instead, a primary focus is on creating detailed specifications of the protocols upon which the OCN is built. The strength of the Open Content Network will lie in a diversity of implementations that each meet different user needs.

Q: Is the OCN secure?

A: A major concern of peer-to-peer networks is the ability of malicious users to intentionally modify or corrupt files in the network. The OCN solves this problem using sophisticated integrity verification technology, including a powerful construct called Merkle Hash Trees.

Q: Does the OCN provide anonymity?

A: No. Although it is more difficult than with Napster and Gnutella, users can still discover what files you have downloaded via the Open Content Network.
For anonymous peer-to-peer content delivery, we highly recommend the Freenet Project.


Q: I like the idea of distributing open content, how can I help?

A: The best way to help out is to keep the software running as long as possible, and if you’re so inclined, open up your firewall or NAT to allow hosts to directly connect to your peer. The exact port will depend on the specific software that you are using, so please see that documentation for details.

Q: I host an open content web site, how can I get involved?

A: Please join the ocn-dev mailing list and tell us about your site. We’ll work with you to get it on-line as quickly as possible.

Q: I am an application developer, how can I get involved?

A: Please join the ocn-dev mailing list and tell us about your application. If your application is well-behaved and OCN-compliant, we will be happy to list your application on the OCN website.