Blockchain meets the film industry
Blockchain Meets The Film Industry
April 2, 2020
Blockchain meets the film industry
Blockchain Meets The Film Industry
April 2, 2020

When Blockchain meets the film industry, it is like the evolution of film industries, as it is evolving each day and blockchain is attracting more and more curious minds into the scene. Each and every industry is now being positively influenced by the blockchain technology. As a decentralized digital ledger, blockchain is a way to verify and record each and every transaction over an encrypted, secure platform. It provides businesses with much-needed transparency. Blockchain technology aims to reduce transactional friction by democratizing oversight over digital assets.

Here is a brief read on when Blockchain meets the film Industry.

In the 21st century, the film industry is immensely benefited by the blockchain technology as it supports the global network of the audience, distributors, and content producers. It provides a great opportunity for all the stakeholders of the film industry comprising of small and independent producers, traditional distributors, modern-day internet-based content streaming platforms, and global studio powerhouses.

While blockchain technology was initially seen for its revolutionary way of handle financial transactions, it can be used for far more. The buzz surrounding blockchain technology and its potential to improve, disrupt or transform the film business has reached new heights.

Major Challenges faced by the Film Industry

Let’s discuss some of the challenges faced by the film industry:

  • Shift from conventional TV to the Internet: There has been an increasing shift from cable networks and DVDs to the Internet. Internet-streaming business platforms make huge investments in the production of series and features, thereby posing a huge threat to filmmakers.
  • Internet series competing with conventional cinema: Conventional cinema faces heavy competition from the Internet series. This is because people now love to watch movies within the confines of their homes instead of going to the theaters. The high-level cinematography used in series provides a theatrical experience even on the small screen.
  • Competition between movie theaters and television: UHD TVs have a resolution of 4K which is high when compared to the resolution of 2K in movie theatres. Though TVs have a high frame rate and dynamic range capability than theaters, people visit premium theaters such as IMAX for enhanced picture and sound quality. The future of theaters depends on how well they adapt to technological change.
  • Lack of variety in genres: Nowadays, people look for original content. Only those that are unique, reach the global audience. People from different fields and diverse positions of power must get involved in filmmaking. This way, new content will be generated thereby kindling the interest of the audiences.

How does Blockchain help the Film Industry?

Blockchain technology helps the film industry with the following applications:

Sales and Distribution Networks

The landscape of film distribution systems has undergone some major changes in the last decade. Film releases nowadays reach a global audience with the rise of digital distribution models. Traditional distributor and exhibitor networks have expanded themselves by partnering with international partners who control local distribution. Online distribution platforms have brought technology companies such as Netflix, Apple, and Amazon into the picture.

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Now, with the arrival of blockchain, it can serve as a decentralized and scalable solution in order to manage the increasing complexity of contemporary global networks and digital distribution models. A smart contract on a blockchain can register and enforce distribution and release agreements between producers and distribution partners thus building trust. Once recorded on the blockchain, smart contracts can also be used to trigger actions such as enabling automated distribution of revenue when collections are received and recorded. As an example, this scenario could benefit independent producers and small, local exhibitors who will be able to accept ticket payments in cryptocurrencies from audiences and share collections even before the screening of the show is completed.

Copyright and Ownership

For the film industry, establishing and protecting copyright is both a complex and costly task. Copyright infringement is a major insurance expense for established studios. On the other hand, for smaller, independent producers and distributors, ensuing litigation and fines become a major barrier that threatens their existence. It is quite common that content creators with high quality, original story ideas or independent films which achieve major box office success, can be exploited through incorrectly assigned or unacknowledged rights.

Blockchain can address this problem by creating an immutable record of transactions on any asset, including an idea, story, script or character. The creator of the story idea or script can register the copy on a blockchain and register for the appropriate rights. The subsequent transfer of rights to a studio that is interested in producing it, or, recording a chain of titles for distribution rights, will build a transaction history on the blockchain. Smart contracts can be used to define rules governing the assignment of such rights to TV and airline versions, merchandising licenses, and international releases and so on.

Digital Piracy

Over the years, incidences of films being leaked online have tremendously increased. Piracy is a big burden and a major expense for movie studios. Sometimes, the situation can also be vice versa where content creators are exploited by movie studios as they might not hold a major stake in a film’s production or revenue. Though blockchain may not be an end-to-end solution for piracy, it can be used to deter the process of content getting leaked illegally. The distributed ledger technology of blockchain creates an immutable record of transactions on any creative work, idea, or asset. Smart contracts and tokens (representation of a particular asset or utility) can be utilized for signaling content owners, search engines, and ISPs (Internet Service Providers), screening and broadcasting, legitimate film uploads whenever a non-blockchain-enabled content is discovered online.

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Despite improved capabilities to protect content and track illegal distribution, incidents of leaking films online have also increased tremendously over time. Piracy is a major headache and a big expense for movie studios. But at the same time, the situation can arise where studios can also exploit content creators who might not have enough punch to enforce their stake in a film’s revenue or production.

Equal Opportunities for Small Players

Blockchain offers opportunities to independent production houses and emerging regions which have limited audiences and infrastructure. If the rights of an independent film are purchased by a larger studio, the details of the resulting profits can be shared on the blockchain. This offers absolute transparency. Blockchains such as Ethereum can be used for setting up virtual entities and autonomous institutions to fund projects through ownership and shares. It provides access to a global pool of investors thereby allowing them to purchase, sell, or trade their equities.

Film Companies Using Blockchain Technology

  • MovieCoin: It is a next-generation financial technology company focused on leveraging blockchain technology, digital assets, and proprietary applications to create a new standard currency for entertainment financing, business transactions, and consumer payments. The platform plans to issue a token that helps raise capital that will be invested in movies, television programs, and other entertainment industry assets. Each fund token will represent an ownership interest in the projects financed.
  • White Rabbit: The firm aims to prevent online piracy. White Rabbit allows you to reward the films and series you stream, on whatever peer-to-peer platform you choose to stream from. White Rabbit technology recognizes content and utilizes blockchain to facilitate payment between you and the film’s rights holders. When everyone gets their fair share, everyone is happy. By separating distribution from payment, White Rabbit offers one payment system, but infinite viewing and fan experiences.
  • Cinezen: Cinezen Blockchained Entertainment AB is a Swedish start-up founded in Gothenburg in September 2017 with the goal to revolutionize the existing model of film distribution. Cinezen wants to create a transparent Video On Demand platform using Ethereum-based smart contracts. The company wants to put content creators in control of the data on their assets. On the Cinezen platform, every film is treated as a smart asset and every digital sale or rental is stored as a transaction in a distributed public ledger.
  • SingularDTV: SingularDTV is a content production and distribution platform built on Ethereum. It allows filmmakers to connect directly with production professionals in the city they are creating a project in ,  as well as take advantage of smart contracts to pay those crews in a quick, transparent way. This is turn creates better traceability of who worked on what, but it means more people would be able to compete for work. In addition, it will also lead to cutting out the need for middlemen.
  • OPUS: OPUS is a startup powered by the Ethereum blockchain is positioning itself as the world’s first decentralized music platform. Artists are struggling to make sense of the mess that is royalty distribution in its present form and find it difficult to keep the fair share. By basing the OPUS Player the Ethereum blockchain and storing all the tracks on IPFS, there is no central server and so the storage costs are drastically reduced. This allows for more of the revenue to go directly to the artist, in a more secure, transparent way than ever before.
  • Custos Media: Custos Media aims to provide a globally effective way to combat media piracy by tracing a leak to its source in a decentralized way by using cryptocurrency. The startup wants to identify the people responsible for uploading a media file to a piracy network after the content owners entrusted them with that file. By identifying the original infringer, they hope to create a culture of accountability, eventually eradicating online piracy at a grassroots level altogether.
  • DECENT: DECENT lets publishers distribute their content globally through its decentralized, encrypted, secure and auditable platform. The firm aims to eliminate the middleman, thus bringing content directly from source to consumer. Basically, you need a distribution company to handle getting your movie into cinemas in different parts of the world. This is why, you often see films getting released in one country, and not in another, this leads to lower revenues thanks to piracy.
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Kim Jackson, the Co-founder and President of SingularDTV said:

“In the last four or five years, at most of the film markets, a conversation we’ve heard a lot has been with this changing landscape of VoD and the lack of resources that are starting to be apparent to distributors; the power lies in the ability to control and distribute your IP and this is what the blockchain provides at the very basic level.”

Conclusion

All people enjoy well-scripted and ably shot movies or TV shows. Blockchain paves way for movie lovers to be an integral part of the entertainment economy. It helps shape the creative process of the film industry. Fans in support of the creators will now be able to monetize their passion by playing a vital role in driving the process.

Blockchain technology is now being increasingly used by filmmakers as a film distribution channel which has signaled a positive shift in the manner in which content is shared and viewed. This major transformation will certainly be a happy ending. As implementation of blockchain frees the film community of the risk restrictions, large budgets, and intense scrutiny, the game will, from now on, be about quality too, apart from just numbers and rankings.


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Ishita Bora

Ishita Bora is a Senior Content Creator at Digital Notice Media Labs with an experience of 1 year. She has completed her Master's Degree in Language and Linguistics in 2019 from Gauhati University, India. Her interest lies in blockchain technology and cryptocurrency space, as she loves writing about blockchain and other blockchain-related articles. Currently, she is working on blockchain-based news, reviews, featured articles, and guides.
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