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This startup is using blockchain to pirate-proof music and films

This startup is using blockchain to pirate-proof music and films
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Imagine your most-anticipated indie movie debuting securely on a blockchain-powered app. And then add the virtual credits you gladly took in for popularising the film on various social media platforms. This may be close to reality soon.

In a development being hailed as the beginning of the end for piracy, a Singapore-based company is looking to launch a blockchain-powered app this fall.

MinersInc, with an Indian subsidiary named Mangata Technologies Pvt. Ltd, is looking to use a decentralised platform to kill piracy of movies and music as well as build social commerce around the sharing of indie content not usually found on streaming platforms.

For this, MinersInc is partnering the entertainment industry in Europe, the UK and India to bring movies and music onto its app, named MYNK (My Network). The startup, registered under the name of iSpectrum Bits Innovations Pte. Ltd in Singapore, was founded in October 2017 by ad and communications professional Deepak Jayaram and ex-Mphasis innovation and blockchain lead Nitin Narkhede.

The latter told TechCircle: "Under the movies category, in the first bucket, we are planning to bring international content that is not available on several OTT (over the top) platforms (such as Netflix, Hotstar, Amazon Prime Video) or the content is being pirated because there is not enough commercial interest in it. In the second bucket, we have Indian content." The app would have 60 to 100 foreign films, Narkhede added.

Explaining their India content strategy, Narkhede cited a Ficci Frames report that said India produces more than 3,000 movies a year, of which half make it to screens. "Several low-budget films with newcomers or less-known stars, or ones that challenge social norms, find it hard to reach their intended audience. There is some really good content that doesn’t make it to screens. We are planning to onboard such content onto the platform," he said.

Besides content, the company is also looking to rain virtual credits on users popularising the app’s films and music on social media platforms.

"We have done some informal dipstick and spoken to over 500 people, mostly college-going students and home-makers. The idea is to turn them into influencers on the app platform. These are people who will consume content and propagate the same in their social groups," Jayaram said, adding that these people want to be “trendsetters or cool”.

"Later, we want to use the platform to do social commerce once things pick up. Think about merchandise or games people can build out of these films and content, and they will be authorised by the content-makers to do so. This will help us in building communities and we see growth in Tier-II and Tier-III cities," Jayaram said, adding that they were planning to take the number of total users of the platform to half a million in one year. The company would use the digital medium for marketing and advertisements, he added.

In fact, both the founders are also thinking of taking the merchandise to bigger e-commerce platforms once things hot up.

However, Jayaram said the company was not looking at bigger movie franchises or production houses at the moment.

Where is the blockchain in all of this?

Narkhede explained that the platform has three layers -- the app interface, the content and the Ethereum interface at the bottom. The Ethereum interface takes care of the rupee payments made for virtual credits to be used inside the app. "Merchants who will later look to make money off the content by selling merchandise related to the content will pay rupees (for the content rights). (And the original content-makers will get royalty.) We already have partnered with payment companies such as Paytm," he explained.

For content storage on the blockchain, Narkhede said that they had partnered BigchainDB. "We are the only Indian company that has partnered with them. We are also a part of the Ethereum alliance," he added.

Funding and plans

The company, which has already begun beta-testing its product with consumers and conducting pilots, has raised an undisclosed amount from investors in Singapore.

"We are substantially funded for the development cycle of the product. We know we are going to need money once we go live but we are planning to keep the business cash-light. We are looking to raise another round soon," Jayaram said.

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