While blockchain technology was initially seen for its revolutionary way of handle financial transactions, it can be used for far more. The buzz surrounding blockchain technology and its potential to improve, disrupt or transform the film business has reached a new heights.
The blockchain, a decentralised digital ledger that offers a way to verify and record transactions over a secure, encrypted platform as per the early adopters, will deliver much-needed transparency to all types of businesses. What’s more interesting is how blockchain tech connects itself to other industries, like entertainment. As a decentralized ledger, the blockchain aims to democratize oversight over digital assets, increase transparency and reduce transactional friction.
That means blockchain tech can potentially revolutionize the way we distribute and consume music today. The industry people see blockchain as a new paradigm for conducting business in the industry that will bring greater transparency across a secure digital mechanism.
We will look at some cases/applications of blockchain in film industry and analyze what will be blockchain’s affect on them. Also side by side we will also go through several firms who are using blockchain in order to create a wider impact on the film and entertainment industry.
Case 1. Role of Sales and Distribution Networks
The landscape of film distribution systems has undergone some major changes in the last decade. Film releases nowadays reach a global audience with the rise of digital distribution models. Traditional distributor and exhibitor networks have expanded themselves by partnering with international partners who control local distribution. Online distribution platforms have brought technology companies such as Netflix, Apple and Amazon into the picture.
Now, with the arrival of blockchain, it can serve as a decentralised and scalable solution in order to manage the increasing complexity of contemporary global networks and digital distribution models. A smart contract on a blockchain can register and enforce distribution and release agreements between producers and distribution partners thus building trust. Once recorded on the blockchain, smart contracts can also be used to trigger actions such as enabling automated distribution of revenue when collections are received and recorded. As an example, this scenario could benefit independent producers and small, local exhibitors who will be able to accept ticket payments in cryptocurrencies from audiences and share collections even before the screening of the show is completed.
Related startup: SingularDTV is a content production and distribution platform built on Ethereum. It allows film-makers to connect directly with production professionals in the city they’re creating a project in — as well as take advantage of smart contracts to pay those crews in a quick, transparent way. This is turn creates a better traceability of who worked on what, but it means more people would be able to compete for work, in addition it will also lead to cutting out the need for middlemen.
Case 2: Copyright and Ownership
For the film industry, establishing and protecting copyright is both complex and costly task. Copyright infringement is a major insurance expense for established studios. On the other hand, for smaller, independent producers and distributors, ensuing litigation and fines becomes a major barrier that threatens their existence. It is quite common that content creators with high quality, original story ideas or independent films which achieve major box office success, can be exploited through incorrectly assigned or unacknowledged rights.
Blockchain can address this problem by creating an immutable record of transactions on any asset, including an idea, story, script or character. The creator of the story idea or script can register the copy on a blockchain and register for the appropriate rights. Subsequent transfer of rights to a studio that is interested in producing it, or, recording a chain of titles for distribution rights, will build a transaction history on the blockchain. Smart contracts can be used to to define rules governing the assignment of such rights to TV and airline versions, merchandising licenses, international releases and so on.
Related Startup: OPUS, a startup powered by the Ethereum blockchain is positioning itself as the world’s first decentralized music platform. Artists are struggling to make sense of the mess that is royalty distribution in its present form and find it difficult to keep the fair share. By basing the OPUS Player the Ethereum blockchain and storing all the tracks on IPFS, there is no central server and so the storage costs are drastically reduced. This allows for more of the revenue to go directly to the artist, in a more secure, transparent way than ever before.
Case 3: Combating Digital Piracy
Despite improved capabilities to protect content and track illegal distribution, incidents of leaking films online have also increased tremendously overtime. Piracy is major headache and big expense for movie studios. But at the same time, the situation can arise where studios can also exploit content creators who might not have enough punch to enforce their stake in a film’s revenue or production.
While blockchain does not present an end to end solution for eliminating piracy but, it can still be used to deter the process of leaking content illegally. A distributed ledger can take on this challenge by creating an immutable record of transactions on any asset, idea, creative work, and the like. Blockchain could utilise smart contracts and tokens to do legitimate film uploads, screening and broadcasting and thus signal to content owners, search engines and ISPs whenever a non blockchain enabled existence of a content is discovered online.
(In an unpopular and my personal opinion, I think that piracy is not as bad as it sounds. In a sense it has helped the film industry to reach a wider audience and gain worldwide recognition. Take an example of GOT, it is telecasted on HBO. In how many countries do you think it is shown at the original showtime or even shown? It is either telecasted late or not even telecasted. So, yeah piracy helped here in a sense. I am not supporting piracy but I hope you got my point :-)
Related Startup: Custos Media aims to provide a globally effective way to combat media piracy by tracing a leak to its source in a decentralised way using cryptocurrency. The startup wants to identify the people responsible for uploading a media file to a piracy network after the content owners entrusted them with that file. By identifying the original infringer, they hope to create a culture of accountability, eventually eradicating online piracy at a grassroots level altogether.
Case 4: Equal Opportunities for Small Players
Blockchain such as Ethereum can be used to set-up distributed autonomous organisations or virtual entities to fund projects with ownership and shares. This model has several advantages like transparency, access to a global pool of investors and further allowing investors to purchase, sell or trade their equity. Blockchain presents opportunities for independent production houses and emerging regions which have limited reach to audiences and infrastructure. In a case where, the rights of an independent film are purchased by a larger studio, the resulting profits can be shared on the blockchain with absolute transparency.
Related Startup: Generally, you need a distribution company to handle getting your movie into cinemas in different parts of the world. This is why you often see films getting released in one country, and not in the another, this leads to lower revenues thanks to piracy. Now, this is something a company like DECENT wants to change. DECENT lets publishers distribute their content globally through its decentralized, encrypted, secure and auditable platform. The firm aims to eliminate the middleman, thus bringing content directly from source to consumer.
Other Notable Startups
It is a next-generation financial technology company focused on leveraging blockchain technology, digital assets and proprietary applications to create a new standard currency for entertainment financing, business transactions and consumer payments. The platform plans to issue a token that helps raise capital that will be invested in movies, television programs and other entertainment industry assets. Each Fund token will represent an ownership interest in the projects financed.
Imagine owning a Avengers Token, Batman Token, Justice League Token etc.
2. White Rabbit
The firm aims to prevent online piracy. White Rabbit allows you to reward the films and series you stream, on whatever peer-to-peer platform you choose to stream from. White Rabbit technology recognizes content and utilizes blockchain to facilitate payment between you and the films rights holders. When everyone gets their fair share, everyone is happy. By separating distribution from payment, White Rabbit offers one payment system, but infinite viewing and fan experiences.
How about building a decentralized version of Netflix? Cinezen Blockchained Entertainment AB is a Swedish start-up founded in Gothenburg in September 2017 with the goal to revolutionize the existing model of film distribution. Cinezen wants to create a transparent Video On Demand platform using Ethereum-based smart contracts. The company wants to put content creators in control of the data on their assets. On Cinezen platform, every film is treated as a smart asset and every digital sale or rental is stored as a transaction in a distributed public ledger.
What Will The Future Bring
Blockchain is attracting plenty of curious minds into the scene to explore the ambitious plans. Blockchain technology brings a great opportunity for all stakeholders in the film industry from global studio powerhouses, small independent producers, traditional distributors and exhibitors to modern internet based content streaming platforms. Several, tech start-ups joined forces to become the early evangelists or adaptors for film industry oriented blockchain applications. The film industry of the 21st century can take a lot of benefits from blockchain technology as it is an innovation that can digitally support a dynamic range and connected global network of content producers, audience and distributors.
These all are my personal views, thoughts and opinions. Please feel free to comment down with your own observations and examples.
Connect with me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gauravneuer/
Blockchain meets the Film Industry: beginning of a new Avatar was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.