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Helping artists sleep at night: Digital rights management with blockchain

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watching tvLike many of you, my family and I have used the stay-safe-at-home months to re-bond with our TV, and the vast array of mini-series, movies, and other options for viewing in the evenings and on the weekends. We have also had to navigate content disappearing or moving from one content provider to another. A little frustrating, yes, but not entirely new to these pandemic months.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen the media and entertainment industry explode with all kinds of audio and video streaming entertainment services, and more and more varieties of subscription entertainment options — Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and many others. As a result, companies worldwide are faced with growing amounts of rich media — and the challenge of managing, securing and distributing that data is certainly mounting.

A research report published by Transparency Market Research, the Global Digital Rights Management market is estimated to be worth USD 9 billion by 2026 growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.3 percent since 2018. It is estimated that revenue lost to online piracy will nearly double between 2016 and 2022 to hit at least USD 51.6 billion, according to 2017’s Online TV Piracy Forecasts report. So, before Covid-19 and especially since the world has been in this stay-at-home, lock-down situation, there has been a growing increase for media entertainment on-demand. As a result, the current landscape has had a profound impact on entertainment media consumption.

Learn how industries are revolutionizing business with IBM Blockchain

The challenge of more content in media

The demand and consumption of content has been on an exponential rise in recent years. Viewers are demanding more content and to address this demand, media companies are producing more titles on a regular basis. It seems we are in the middle of content wars where both linear broadcasters and over-the-top (OTT) providers want to create more intriguing content than ever before. Needless to say, this intense demand for intriguing content delivery has raised concerns around illegal distribution, content infringement, and piracy of original content that leads to several millions of dollars of revenue losses for media production houses and other content creators.

When it comes to industry solutions, IBM is fortunate to work with ecosystem partners like Tech Mahindra to address evolving business needs leveraging technology with innovative solutions.

In recognition of the growing need for businesses to protect and deliver digital content, they developed a blockchain solution, branded as the Blockchain-based Contracts and Rights Management System (bCRMS), to help track and trace content usage and access.

bCRMS is an end-to-end platform for the media and entertainment (M&E) industry that helps production houses and content owners to automate contracts, manage rights and royalty payments with talent, fulfillment partners and multi-level distributors, in addition to restrict unauthorized redistribution of content and prevent piracy. It leverages techniques like blockchain-based forensic watermarking and content hashing to maintain the sanctity of data as it moves through the media content value chain.

Built on The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric protocol and hosted on IBM Blockchain Platform, bCRMS further enables organizations to create their own chains (do-it-yourself) in their micro and macro ecosystems to collaborate and enhance revenues, pre-empt contracts or IPR infringement and focus on redefining end customer’s content consumption experience.

Some of the biggest challenges in M&E around managing digital rights include:

  1. No visibility/transparency across the media flow
  2. Manual contracts
  3. Cumbersome validations against contract terms and conditions
  4. Huge revenue loss due to contract breach and illegal content distribution
  5. Lack of evidence of content pilferage/ leakages for legal action against the violators
  6. Disputes related to royalty amounts

What it all means for your next binge

With the rising popularity of social media platforms, piracy and thefts of the digital content is hampering the market and causing revenue losses for digital content owners and providers. This has posed a significant challenge to protect the intellectual property rights of artists and all the individuals and entities involved with producing content.

Blockchain technology can help solve the challenges around how to find, track and monetize content. With tracking and usage visibility, blockchain technology can be critical in helping to resolve conflicts we see today in managing the disparate datasets that are in the hands of different clients and businesses. Media houses may have existing DRM systems in place. They can consider a consortium-led approach where blockchain can help address issues around security and sharing of data between multiple entities. Blockchain can ensure three critical aspects: data security, scalability and privacy.

Even as we move toward a post-pandemic world, the face and pace of media content has changed, and it requires a new way to protect content producers and everyone within the media value chain so they can keep making the great (and not-so-great) shows we watch.

So, when you choose your next binge-worthy series, rest assure that your contribution to these streaming services will make it to the right people, and with the help of blockchain solutions, more will be on its way.

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