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Can Blockchain Solve Piracy in Movie & Music Industries?



From the previous articles, we understood what essentially is blockchain technology and its working. We also discussed a lot of use cases of this technology in different industries and how blockchain is empowering global companies for improving their business operations. But in this article, let’s discuss how this technology can curb one of the most significant problems of the 21st century, i.e. PIRACY. Piracy is considered THE most critical issue in the field of entertainment and recreational content. These industries lose billions of dollars every year just because of the pirated versions of authentic content. We tried to cover two important industries that are most affected. They are the Movie and Music industry. But before that, let us understand what piracy essentially means.

What is Piracy?

Piracy fundamentally means the robbery of a ship when it is sailing in the oceans or on a coast. The objective is to steal the valuable cargo that is present in the ship. The intruders are known as pirates. But in the digital era of the 21st century, piracy is referred to as the practice of illegally reproducing unauthorised copyrighted content. This content is then vented for low prices or posted on the internet’s ‘grey’ market. Torrents are one of those grey markets of the internet which is now banned in most of the countries. However, a lot of other alternatives are available on the internet, making it impossible to curb all of this piracy. But with the advent of blockchain technology, there is hope that one day, piracy can be limited to the maximum extent and let’s see how that can be achieved.

Movie Industry

The movie industry is one of the essential sources of entertainment in a lot of developed and developing countries. Even third world countries are producing some of the finest movies in the world. This industry generates billions of profits every year, and according to some statistics, the number is no less than $40 billion. And the forecast is that the profits generated by the movie industry will reach $50 billion by 2020. Having said that, every year, more than $20 billion is lost in this industry alone because of the piracy. Everyone involved in this industry has been fighting with this monster ever since the beginning of the digital era, but the existence of piracy to date explains that those attempts are not enough. Now let’s see how blockchain technology can help this industry in curbing piracy.

Scripts getting leaked

Various methods have been used to avoid the leakage of the scrips. These methods involve writing ‘Star wars’ scripts on a special type of paper that can not be copied in any way. Also, you would have heard that the scripts of ‘Captain America’ movie being destroyed at the end of each day. According to Charles Rivkin (CEO – Motion Pictures Association Of America), blockchain could be a powerful tool that could fight and curb piracy. With the help of blockchain, the content related to a particular movie can be circulated between the most important people that are involved in the film. It will be almost impossible for hackers to tamper this information and gain access to it. Blockchain would also allow the tracking of unlawful actions that are being done on a distributed ledger.

Bounty Rewards

CustosTech is a South African based company in the space of curbing movie piracy. This company has built a patented watermarking technology using Bitcoin’s blockchain. Essentially, they have incorporated cryptocurrency tokens inside the media files. These digital watermarks are impossible to alter or remove. If a movie is pirated, this company can analyse the watermark and figure out the legal recipient of the file. This bounty program is available to everyone, and people can earn rewards in cryptos for tracking down the pirated files.

As shocking as it may sound, almost 60% of the movie piracy is an internal job. The copies can be leaked by someone who is a part of the team expecting vast amounts of money from the websites that publish pirated content. This can be entirely eliminated by using the technology that has been built by Custos. The process is as follows. Once the final copy of the movie is out, you can reach out to the Custos team. This team will then upload the film to their secured video distribution platform. The owner of the film can provide all the email addresses of the people to whom this movie have to be shared. Like the top reviewers in the town, Censor team etc. In the backend, this platform generates unique copies for each of the email addresses provided using their patented watermarking technology. They will also embed a Bitcoin wallet (nothing but a special string of numbers) onto the movie which is not visible until they see with a lot of attention. Small amounts of Bitcoin is placed in this Bitcoin wallet

Any person who finds a pirated copy of this movie can take that Bitcoin as a reward, and through blockchain, Custos will know the pirated copy. Till today, almost 140,000 leaked copies have been identified by this company, and that is definitely not a small number. Hence by combining blockchain infringement technology with patented watermarking software, this company is allowing media owners to quickly discover the leaked content and the location of the breach.

Music Industry

One of the most important reason for people to pirate content is the unaffordability and unavailability. We have already seen a decrease in the content that is being pirated after the rise of streaming services like Spotify and Netflix. Artists hardly get any profit from the content they create (unless it becomes a massive success) as labels, streaming services, and hosting websites take their share.

But with blockchain, artists can avoid middlemen like this by using a distributed ledger and smart contracts. They can upload and share their content directly off a distributed ledger and accept micro-payments directly by using smart contracts. For instance, an artist can create a smart contract that would look something like this. ‘Pay this much (extremely minute as the payments will be from millions of music consumers in the blockchain) in order to listen to this song. The song will be available for them as soon as they receive the payment. Artists can also provide the song for free and charge for the karaoke or ring tone versions through a smart contract.

In this way, piracy can be curbed to a large extent, and copyright holders get their fair share of payments they deserve. Also, they can avoid the infringement of the copyrighted content. This is not a distant dream, as there are already artists and music companies that are incorporating blockchain technology in this space. For instance, Mycelia is a music company that provides blockchain services for artists to secure their fair share and protect their content.

Hope you had a good read. Cheers!


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