We need file hosting on two levels: for downloads of final works and for temporary files only needed during the creation of a work.
Downloads of finished works can happen through normal HTTP or through BitTorrent. For HTTP downloads, we can rely on several sources: Reasonable Freehosters, privately donated or sponsored webspace, or a big "partner site" helping us like archive.org does for LibriVox. It's even desirable to have one reading on at least two channels, to make sure that at least one is always working. "Privately donated webspace" means we don't need an entire server, just an individual who lets us store up to X megabytes for a traffic of up to (approximately) Y gigabytes.
Criteria for a "reasonable" freehoster:
- All the servers must be located in +70 countries or "better" (Canada).
- Most of them show ads; those should not be too obnoxious, and one should not have to wait a long time before the download. (A popular way to drive people to buy "premium" accounts without waiting. We don't want that.)
- The files must stay available for a certain period without download (say, a month).
- No registration must be necessary in order to download files.
- There should be no or only a very high limit for the number of downloads.
- As the listener has to see ads to download a file, it's better to upload one big file (a ZIP archive) instead of many small ones. At least 100 MB must be uploadable, better is 1 GB. For smaller files (individual collection items), we might find a hoster that directly supports a bunch of audio files or even direct HTTP links.
- They must present a clear way to download the file, particularly when it's a non-English service.
- Ideally, there is a facility for audio files to be played directly in the web browser.
- http://ge.tt - Files expire after 30 days without download (90 days with an acccount). Immediate downloads, few ads, direct listening to MP3 files. The servers are currently hosted in Ireland.
- http://dl.free.fr - best suited to French content, accessible but slower for non-customers of the French Internet provider "free.fr". Permits organisation of downloads in "communities". Quite anonymous. Tutorial
- http://storemyfile.org - might be an alternative if needed. Looks very minimalistic, seems to be in France.
- http://www.fileshare.pro - another possibility. This one looks Romanian.
- Your webspace is hugely appreciated!
- While we can count the number of people clicking on a download link, we cannot estimate the real traffic that will be created. We try not to expose the direct HTTP links, but at some point the listener must be able to see it; and when that listener decides to put that direct link to your server up to Facebook, well... In other words: If you have a hard traffic limit for your server, you must do something to avoid a nasty situation: configure lower softlimits, survey automatically your web server's log files... This situation is not different from any other classic "mirror"!
- If you are already running a public HTTP server, there is no change to your security policy, you're just more public. No need to run any other software!
Using BitTorrent, downloaders can help by providing their bandwidth. It is particularly fast when many users are downloading the same work (which might happen for the first days after a recording's publication), and it is also well suited for downloads of particular formats (Ogg Vorbis, FLAC) that might not have priority for HTTP webspace. The downside is that it is likely, but not technically guaranteed that all the parts of the recording will show up and the download will finish. If everybody is missing the same part, or if just no seeder is there, the leecher waits, possibly forever.
A whole file is always split up in parts; you must collect all parts for the complete file. For BitTorrent you need a "tracker", that's a public server who connects those who have parts (the "seeders") and those who want them (the "leechers"). There are several public servers that should fill our need. The most famous is The Pirate Bay, which we might want to avoid just because of its "controversial" history As with web servers, we want at least three trackers that are each located in a +70 country. Candidats that we might want to ask include Public BT, OpenBitTorrent and the Canadian Pirate tracker (they only take Creative Commons content). We can also run our own tracker, if the hosting provider does not forbid it (some impose strange conditions).
So much for public downloads. For temporary downloads during the creation of a work, we might use the above freehosters, but "private webspace" where we could run the LV uploader might be better suited here. The conditions are a bit different: we don't need huge amounts of traffic, but a longer availability without downloads, as some time may pass between the first and the last bits of a recording.
- Finished recordings must be available on at least one HTTP server. The format should be a MP3 of at least 64 kbps.
- A "storage admin" keeps a private copy of the original files (which may be in higher quality - 128 kbps MP3 or maybe even FLAC). The MC is welcome to do this as well.
- Until we have a stable upload server running, the BC and the readers are encouraged to keep all temporary files during the production of a recording.
The role of the storage admin is to help the MC, so that it's not necessarily the MC who has to do re-uploads when there is a problem. I think a small number of dedicated persons are enough for a large number of files. They just need a large harddisk (two terabytes are cheap these days), a fast Internet connection, and feel comfortable with such housekeeping. I will be one of them.
Of course, no matter what webserver or what BitTorrent tracker is serving the final recording, we want stable links for public downloads. Within the next two weeks, I'll write a tiny web application for that. We can then have links like
http://legamus.eu/link/Roth-Radetzkymarsch-german for the HTTP download, or http://legamus.eu/link/Roth-Radetzkymarsch-german/bt for the BitTorrent link.
Update: this link resolver exists by now