Does Blockchain Have the Answer to The Woes of Centralized Streaming Services such As Netflix? | Hacker Noon

June 8th 2020

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@olya-greenOlya Green

I write about blockchain and Web 3.0

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Tracking royalties and other IP rights across the growing cohort of streaming platforms can be very tedious. While blockchain can’t be one cure-all fix, it can still deliver feasible benefits to production, publishing and distribution of creative assets.

The woes of the streaming platforms spiked by the pandemic.

Do not let Netflix’s record revenue mislead you. The truth is that seemingly well-off on the surface, the streaming and entertainment giants are not immune to hardships brought along by the coronavirus. Already a precarious territory, the recent premier’s delays, massive lay-offs, the rise of fake news, and the ad revenue loss, all have their toll on the delicate entertainment business. Other ubiquitous pain points already present in the industry – lack of funding and tracing creators’ revenues, fake news – were only accelerated by the COVID situation. 

As the pandemic rolls around the movie studios and newsrooms, does blockchain technology hold any promise for real-world copyright and licensing applications?

Reducing the complexity of media ownership.

Ever wondered why there are three (or is it four?) versions of HBO? It’s simply not that easy for companies to transition from the cable era of home entertainment to the Netflix age. And managing copyright takes up a big part of this confusion.

Having a unified way to store and transfer broadcasting rights between streaming giants could greatly reduce the coordination overheads and costs associated with IP governance. With a blockchain database acting as a simple register of ownership, streaming companies will have a peace of mind when dealing with complex, multi-party copyright transactions.

Can blockchains finally defeat the piracy?

Digital piracy, fraudulent copies, infringed studio intellectual property (IP), and duplication of digital items cost the US film and TV industry

an estimated $71 billion annually

Apparently, so far there has been no instance of a blockchain that was useful for mitigating IP infringements. Still, there’s one thing blockchains can surely do – redefining the IP ownership through encrypted tracking and time stamping of royalties. In doing so, intellectual property rights can be properly tracked, and digital rights management companies can access the full record of transactions made.

Self-executing contracts to streamline license management.

Another strong value prop is the automatic transfer of IP rights and execution of license payments enabled by smart contracts.

A blockchain-derived content identifier, when used in the service of creators and their works, could become one of many unique identifiers already in place, such as ISBN, ORCID, DOI, ISNI, ISRC and so forth.


Self-executing licensing contracts enforce the license terms and provide updates in the reversion of rights back to a creator, or transfer to a new agent, or other recorded rights transactions of that sort. IP rights are properly tracked: digital rights management companies can access the full record of transactions at any point and use the records log to prove ownership in court.

A blockchain-powered platform for digital license management allows publishing companies to manage and store IP rights and license terms on a time-stamped ledger. Its immutable data access log of read/write permissions makes it easier to legally enforce license terms once an infringement occurs. Steven Pu, CEO of Taraxa.

Creative assets management free from industry intermediaries.

CitiGroup reports that although the US music industry spend is at an all-time high of $43 billion a year; the artist only takes home $5 billion, or about 12 percent. 

Primarily relationship-based, the industry’s middlemen margins and stealth profits often puts creators and distributors at a disadvantage. Blockchain offers a path to resolve the problem of fair revenue distribution for digital marketplaces, distributors and streaming platforms alike. Direct micropayments to artists for every stream of their content and complete control of their creations is a strong value proposition for every platform seeking to onboard new creators or sign new licensing deals. Infused with a tamper-free audit log, they will have an opportunity to generate new revenue streams and a significant uptick in users.

From transparency of revenues in streaming and distribution to combatting fake news. Blockchain expert Kevin Gannon, PwC blockchain tech lead and solutions architect expands on digital identities powered up by DLT: 

“When it comes to the area of deepfake, emerging technologies like blockchain can come to the fore to provide some levels of security, approval and validation. Blockchain has typically been touted as a visibility and transparency play, where once something is done, the “who” and “when” becomes apparent. But it can go further! When a user with a digital identity wants to do something, they could be prompted for proof of their identity before access to something (like funds) can be granted.”

Gannon continues: “From another angle, the actual authenticity of video, audio files can be proven via a blockchain application where the hash of certain files can be compared against the originals. Though it is not a silver bullet, and as always, the adoption and applicability of the technology in the right way is key. From a security perspective, more open data mechanisms (like a public ledger) have an increased attack surface, so inherent protection can’t just be assumed. But enhancing security protocols around the approvals process, where smart contracts could also come into play, can strengthen such processes. In addition, at a more technical level, by applying multiple signature transactions in the processes can mean that even if one identity is compromised, there is more than one identity needed to provide ultimate approval.”

Used as supplementary to existing streaming and distribution platforms, blockchain-powered add-ons and improvements are relatively fast to implement, but can greatly accelerate the efficiency of legacy systems.

Disclaimer: the author of this story has vested interest in Taraxa.


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