​Veredictum to offer cryptocurrency for piracy bounty hunters

Veredictum.io is developing a blockchain-based proof of discovery algorithm to thwart pirates taking advantage of film and video creatives.

Australian blockchain startup Veredictum.io is currently working on a decentralised, anti-piracy and distribution platform for the film and video industry.

Speaking with ZDNet, Veredictum.io founder and CEO Tim Lea explained that his company is gathering people affected by piracy in the creative community to get them to represent the infrastructure that enables the community to solve the problem of piracy -- similar to the way SETI out of Berkeley is run.

But rather than have a community search for the existence of extra-terrestrial life forms, Lea is essentially setting up a decentralised structure that will see people go hunting for pirated content.

Those that help support the underlying infrastructure and find pirated content will be rewarded with cryptocurrency, Lea explained, noting that just like with other crytpocurrencies such as bitcoin, the more traction his platform gets, the more the value rises.

"If the market believes and the community believes that your project has got legs, then the price of that cryptocurrency will typically rise because they believe in the platform," he added.

Lea is passionate about solving piracy in the film industry, after falling victim to the practice himself after he and 115 other people made a film.

"When we got pirated, it basically said their contribution was worth nothing," he said.

"So we're focusing on the film and video, but we're creating the heart and soul of this platform so that others can actually go hunting for other content."

Lea hopes the platform will gain traction among creatives who have an interest in other areas, with his open-source platform accessible for those in the music and photography industries, as some examples.

"What it means is we can bring those guys together to create new business models of distribution where we have white hat peer-to-peer bittorrenting," he said.

"Our objective is to actually reduce piracy by 80 percent -- it's not going to happen a week on Tuesday -- but over time if we make content available more easily and we have deterrents at the same time, then we'll gradually reduce piracy."

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.

"Without blockchain-based technology, it's not actually something that could be rewarded for actually providing a structure or they couldn't be rewarded as effectively," Lea added.

In addition to combating piracy, Lea told ZDNet his platform has the ability to disrupt the venture capital model as it currently exists.

"The community is funding the development of the heart and soul of the platform," he explained. "We don't actually need to go down the Series A route, which is beautiful."

Lea said a lot of blockchain-based startups are currently funding themselves in a similar way, pointing to Ethereum, which launched its software platform as a crowd funded initiative in late 2014.

Lucky for Etherium, it raised $18 million to fund the development of its platform, which Lea said is now currently worth $4 billion.

"We're creating the open source structure that everybody contributes towards, everybody benefits by, and then we just layer a commercial layer over the top for the film and video space," he said.

"If we get this right, it will be amazing."

The platform is the next phase of the Australian-based startup's plan to battle piracy, after launching a blockchain-based manuscript protection platform in August that aims to shield creatives from having their ideas stolen before they sign on the dotted line.

"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 previously.

"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."

Last month, digital music service Spotify announced it had acquired blockchain startup Mediachain Labs in a bid to create "a more fair, transparent, and rewarding music industry for creators and rights owners" using the blockchain.

Instead of creating a centralised database with music rights information, it is expected Spotify, with the help of its newly acquired Mediachain talent, will build a decentralised one that connects artists and other music rights holders with the tracks featured on Spotify.

As Mediachain explained in a blog post, its vision for the problem with attribution is a shared data layer, which it said "is key to solving attribution, empowering creators and rights owners, and enabling a more efficient and sustainable model for creativity online".

"The opportunity to join an organisation that shares this vision comes at a crucial time, when the relatively nascent blockchain community has few bridges to mainstream consumers, creators, or the platforms they use to interact," the company said at the time.