Venice Project Renamed Joost

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The Venice Project, the Internet-TV venture backed by the founders of Skype, announced the commercial name for its service Tuesday: Joost.

Joost -- pronounced “juiced” -- is currently in an invitation-only beta-test phase and plans to launch sometime in 2007. The service provides video-on-demand content, distributed using a peer-to-peer networking architecture, with interactive features like chat.

The Joost name “has global appeal, embodies fun and energy and will come to define the 'best of TV and the best of the Internet,'" CEO Fredrik de Wahl said in announcing the new name.

Joost aims to offer free, "broadcast-quality" video supported in an advertising model. The service's software currently runs only on high-powered Windows PCs with broadband Internet connections.

Content partners include Warner Music Group; English-language Latino programmer VOY; Havoc Television, a producer of music and action-sports content; and Off the Fence, a Dutch company that produces documentaries. For example, Paris Hilton -- the hotel heiress and aspiring pop artist who's signed with Warner Bros. Records -- has a channel on the beta version of Joost.

Other content providers working with Joost include National Geographic and the IndyCar Series, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Advertisers participating in the beta test include T-Mobile USA, L’Oréal USA’s Maybelline and gum maker Wrigley.

The startup is backed by Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, the duo who founded free-Internet-phone company Skype, which eBay acquired for $2.6 billion. They also created the Kazaa file-swapping software, which was the target of a successful copyright-infringement lawsuit by music companies.

The company developing the Joost service is incorporated as Baaima, with a mailing address on the Caribbean island of Curaçao.

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