​Australian blockchain startup takes on film and TV industry piracy

Veredictum is taking on piracy in the film and television industry, starting with script distribution, and is eyeing off a future of tackling illegal downloads.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Sydney startup Veredictum has launched a blockchain-based manuscript protection platform, aiming to shield creatives from having their ideas stolen before they sign on the dotted line.

Tim Lea, CEO of Veredictum, set out to create a script distribution model utilising a technology that he claims has not been used in the space previously.

Blockchain technology is the underlying system that facilitates bitcoin trading, but it has come a long way from simply being used as a secure method for buying illicit goods via online marketplaces.

When designing the platform, Lea was eager to utilise blockchain technology, noting the industry has pockets of problems that blockchain presents the right solution to.

"The film script registration service is actually protecting the IP -- the actual script itself -- in terms of it identifies who has produced the item, the file itself is cryptographically hashed and that's locked to the blockchain, so it identifies that file was registered on this day, at this time, and that's held in an immutable record," Lea said.

"It doesn't prevent it from being downloaded, but if there's a problem in the course of law, they can say, 'This particular film script was registered on this particular date'. It's an immutable record; it cannot be changed."

Using Veredictum's platform, Lea said the moment someone accesses a script it is registered to the blockchain, which confirms who has looked at the document and when, presenting the writer with some protection in the event their idea gets stolen.

When it comes to piracy, one of the major areas of concern in the industry is a thing called freebooting, which Lea said has become prominent on social media platforms.

"People download a video from YouTube, they strip it of all the producer content, and then put it up on Facebook as if it's their own and it's becoming a major, major problem in terms of copyright theft," he said.

Lea said that mid-way through last year, there was a review performed, which found that in the space of 30 days, out of the top 1,000 performing videos on Facebook, 725 were stolen from YouTube.

"The problem is the producer gets nothing because they get typically get 55 percent of the advertising revenue and then share revenue with Google, so if the content is stripped and used elsewhere, they get nothing," he said.

"It's a major problem in tandem with film piracy, which is an area that we are very driven towards."

Just like in the startup business, Lea said film and TV ideas are a dime a dozen.

"Piracy is our big, hairy, audacious goal. We want to reduce piracy by 80 percent, but you have to approach piracy from two sides. It's not just here's the deterrent effect, it's also about how to make the distribution better, so we're leveraging blockchain-based technology, linked into peer-to-peer technologies in general to look a whole new distribution structure," he said.

"In terms of post-production, one of the core products that is in development -- that's going to take a while for it to be finalised -- is the idea that we will actually watermark videos armed with the information that we've actually hashed to the blockchain. So, those will be digitally fingerprinted in such a way that even if somebody strips out information, the digital fingerprint will still be there."

Currently, Veredictum is in discussions with a film studios, with Lea saying that if they come on board with some of the ideas his team is pitching, it will be the startup's conduit to "get into bed with Hollywood".

"The music industry and the film industry are both notorious for being laggards in terms of adopting technology -- the music industry are as good to technology as the Amish are -- it's the same with movies. At the front end in terms of production they have the latest cameras etc, the studios, the large conglomerates, employing new technology is about risk mitigation," he said.

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