It might seem that in the world where Netflix or Amazon Prime dominate, the issue of piracy would not be as prominent as it actually is. However, even though those platforms offer content at quite affordable prices, piracy persists.
Certain reports suggest that nearly 60% of all people who download films or TV shows illegally would have paid for them had they been given that option. Why don’t they use the option given to them by services like Netflix or Amazon Prime? It’s quite simple: the content is not available.
In the Heart of Piracy
The case of Amazon Prime might seem quite simple: most of its content is just unavailable outside of the U.S., which surprisingly includes a great portion of shows made exclusively for the service. Much of the same goes for HBO: anyone outside of United States either has to rely on local providers who licensed HBO’s production, or download their shows and films illegally.
In case of Netflix, it’s a bit more complicated. Even though it’s available almost worldwide, the selection of content offered to its customers dramatically varies with countries, and the same shows are actually available to some users while being totally inaccessible to others. This probably stems from some complex licensing agreements but actually creates a dramatic disproportion.
Also, there has been a seismic shift. Netflix can no longer be called a distributor, they have mutated into a studio, that creates more and more of their content while removing hundreds of titles every year produced by other companies.
Eventually, while it may seem that Netflix and its peers put a lid on piracy instead it indirectly endorses it by limiting access to content. They are telling you what to watch, not giving the freedom to choose. Effectively, the key problem to tackling the problem of piracy is not so much in prohibiting torrents as in making content more accessible in a legal way.
Decentralizing the Industry
The problem of content inaccessibility mostly lies in very complex judicial issues related to licensing and distribution agreements. The streaming industry is controlled by a handful of companies. This hurts not just honest fans who just want to watch their film or show of choice, but also the creators of content as it tremendously slows down their access and financial rewards for their work.
Using blockchain to tackle this issue isn’t a brand new idea. The technology seems to be a perfect fit for the entertainment industry and the enforcement of copyright laws. The immutability and transparency of the distributed ledger, the option of nearly instant payments, and smart contracts could effectively drive distributors out of business as it would allow film producers to directly interact with their viewers.
Using blockchain technology could make the very notion of content licensing obsolete: it would guarantee fair payments to the copyright holders while transparency and token economy would ensure legality.
Blockchain technology and the appropriate token is in fact capable of making any sort of content globally available while keeping it totally legal. Its infrastructure could benefit the producers of films, TV series, and amateur content as seen on YouTube, and allow them to enjoy ad free and direct payment for their work. Fans, on the other hand, may enjoy the accessibility of everything they like without violating any laws.
It’s Happening Now
It’s no wonder that there are numerous projects working on solutions that could make it all real. Some of them, such as MakeItViral, are creating YouTube-like platforms that would allow the audience to pay for watching a video with money they get from advertisers for watching their advertisement.
Another project, White Rabbit, develops a browser plug-in that would enable people to stream content peer-to-peer and pay for it directly to the copyright holders. It is currently the only project of this kind that doesn’t focus solely on user-created content, neither is it a new streaming site that requires users to switch from their preferred streaming site
DECENT, in turn, has rolled out a content sharing platform that doesn’t cover only videos but effectively any sort of content, including pictures, music, or texts while claiming that no third party can be involved in controlling the distribution of the content in question.
While those projects seem to focus on different segments of the artistic world, they all use blockchain as the basic technology that enables direct interaction between the audience and the artist or copyright holder.
Will they be able to compete with giants like YouTube or Netflix? As people tire of the limited selection of centralized services they are likely to gain more traction. Even though only time will tell whether the next decade become the golden age for decentralized projects, it is quite likely that the entire landscape of the industry is going to change beyond recognition.