Thursday, September 22, 2016

New Technology Uses Bitcoin to Track Online Pirates

Yesterday, a Gizmodo article featured a new technology being used by the film industry to combat online piracy. Developed by G-J van Rooyen, a professor at Stellenbosch University, the technology uses bitcoin to track illegal content. Bitcoin uses a blockchain, which is a public ledger of all bitcoin transactions.
Professor van Rooyan’s company, Custos Media Technologies, “embeds some bitcoin into each copy of a file that is sent to a licensed recipient, usually a reviewer. A part of the license agreement is that the recipient is responsible for keeping the digital content - and the bitcoin inside it - safe from digital pirates.” If a licensed recipient breaks the agreement and distributes the content, Custos will be able to see the transaction on Bitcoin’s blockchain. In other words, the system can be thought of as a virtual bounty on each film that is pirated, revealing to the film industry who is leaking the file. Hopefully, this technology will be effective in combating online piracy and eventually can be used to track other illegal content, such as music and television.
It is necessary to address, and diminish, piracy and content theft through voluntary initiatives, such as Custos Media Technologies, that help ensure that content creators, artists, innovators, and marketers can earn a return on their creative works.