wants to fight online piracy with the aid of cryptocurrency

Startup building a blockchain-based system for digital rights management

You can’t accuse of lacking ambition: The Sydney-based startup is dedicated to fighting copyright infringement through the creation of a system that allows content creators to register their work; a distributed system to search for copyright violations; and ultimately a digital content marketplace underpinned by peer-to-peer distribution.

Driving the system the startup envisages a Bitcoin-style blockchain and a new cryptocurrency dubbed ‘Ventana’ (Spanish for Window).

The startup was founded by Tim Lea after the experience of seeing an award-winning indie feature film he wrote and directed, 54 Days, being pirated. “Not to the same level as Hollywood movies — I’d be lying if I said that — but when you’ve had 116 people involved in the project, you think ‘What the heck is this?’,” he said.

Lea first encountered Bitcoin in 2011 and thought it was “completely geeky”. But in January 2015, he started digging into the subject again and talking to people about the cryptocurrency and the blockchain that acts as its distributed ledger of transactions. He said he had the realisation that perhaps the technology could help combat film piracy. itself was founded in November 2015.

The startup is still building out its platform but has produced a number of papers explaining how it is intended to work.

The first element is a system to “permanently register video-based content” on a blockchain-style registry. Registration will also involve a digital fingerprinting service by that links to details of the ownership and distribution rights of a piece of content on the blockchain.

The digital fingerprinting is used for the second part of the system, which is a distributed search for unauthorised distribution of the registered material. That will rely on contributed computing power from the Ventana community in a fashion that Lea describes as akin to the SETI@home distributed computing project; a “SETI for pirated content,” Lea says.

“It’s the idea we use the individuals in the creative community to actually act as a decentralised search and detect structure,” he says.

The system would be focussed on hosted files and illicit live streams rather than BitTorrent and similar peer-to-peer systems.

Content producers could use the system to automatically file takedown notices, he adds.

In exchange for the contribution of computing power and bandwidth during periods of low demand, participants will receive Ventana. Content producers that participate in the system will pay monthly subscription fees, some of which will be used to maintain the platform and some of which will be converted and paid out to people who provide the “nodes” of the system.

The third pillar of the system is a peer-to-peer distribution system with a marketplace wrapped around it that can be used to connect content producers to social media influencers.

“So, for example, people that have a large Twitter following, a large YouTube following, a large Instagram following – whatever it might be, they’re going to have a tribe of people that follow them,” Lea says.

The startup does not plan to launch all three interlocking systems simultaneously. The digital fingerprinting service is in private alpha, while the content search system is still under design and the distribution system a concept at this stage. plans to raise funds via a Ventana token sale (or initial coin offering), which is being launched today.

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Tags copyrightpiracystartupscopyright infringementBitcoinBlockchaincryptocurrency

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