The makers of the BitTorent client / media distribution platform Vuze have expressed optimism about Kevin Martin's plans to punish Comcast for its BitTorrent blocking, but at the same time vowed to continue their own push for clearer FCC rules against network discrimination. Vuze Generan Counsel Jay Monahan told me yesterday that he sees Martin's punishment proposal as a "very significant first step". Vuze CEO Gilles BianRosa agreed: "This is a milestone because it shows that there are boundaries", he told me.

Monahan warned to be too optimistic about the outcome though. He pointed out that the commission still has to vote on Martin's proposal, and that its unclear yet what kind of punishments this ruling will contain. Monahan also believes that Comcast will immediately appeal any ruling by the commission and argue that the FCC doesn't have the authority to regulate network management - a point that has been hotly contested in the past.

These uncertainties are the reason that Vuze continues with its own efforts to get the FCC on its side. The company filed its petition for rule making with the commission back in November of 2007. The petition wasn't specifically targeting Comcast's interference, but instead asked for broader regulations from the commission that would ensure punishments for ISPs that try to discriminate against certain applications or protocols. Rules like these would provide "an appropriate chilling effect on bad behaviour", Monahan told me.

So what's the status of Vuze's petition? It's moving along, albeit a little slower than the complaints from Free Press and other consumer advocacy groups that led to Martin's initiative. Writing new rules that are going to affect an entire industry just takes a tad longer than punishing a single company for its wrongdoings. Monahan expects that the commission probably won't decide on it before the next administration is in office.

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