Disney is one of the best known brands in the world and the owner of an impressive collection of movies and TV shows.
New and old releases earn the company a healthy stream of revenue, both in movie theaters and through its own movie streaming service Disney+.
While there is plenty of competition from other movie studios, Disney’s single biggest threat appears to be piracy. To tackle this issue, Disney’s in-house anti-piracy team works around the clock, and the company takes part in the ACE coalition as well.
Disney’s Blockchain Anti-Piracy Patent
Through these anti-piracy efforts, Disney has helped to take down dozens of piracy sites and services. However, the media giant is also trying to be more proactive. A newly awarded patent proposes a blockchain-based media distribution system that aims to prevent early piracy leaks.
The patent in question, titled “Blockchain configuration for secure content delivery,” focuses on the distribution of content to movie theaters. This is a vulnerable process where pirates with the right connections can make copies during or after delivery.
There are already several security mechanisms in place to prevent leaks from happening. Theaters have to adhere to strict rules, for example, and movies are all watermarked. Nevertheless, Disney believes that this isn’t sufficient to stop pirates.
“[S]uch security mechanisms are often reactive rather than preventative. For example, watermarking configurations insert a watermark into content to track piracy after the piracy has already occurred. As a result, current configurations do not adequately prevent piracy,” the company explains.
Disney argues that by implementing a secure blockchain-based system, the distribution process can be more tightly controlled. Among other things, it will make it impossible for a movie to be played before it arrives at the intended location.
“In contrast with previous configurations, the blockchain configuration verifies that the content is received at the intended destination prior to allowing playback of the content at that destination,” the patent reads.
The system can also be configured with other anti-piracy features. For example, it can track the number of times a movie is played to prevent bad actors from showing it more often than they should.
“Further, the blockchain configuration has an automated auditing mechanism that tracks playback of the content at the destination to ensure that the quantity of playbacks is accurately recorded. Therefore, piracy by the intended recipient, in the form of a greater quantity of actual playbacks than reported playbacks, is prevented.’
Other Playback Environments
While Disney regularly refers to movie theaters and projectors, it specifically states that the patent also applies to other ‘playback environments.’ For example, when Disney content is sent to other streaming providers, which will need the proper credentials to play the content.
There are several possible practical implementations but whether Disney has concrete plans to use these in the real world is unknown. That said, it’s certainly intriguing to see that the company is seriously considering the blockchain.
It is worth noting that this anti-piracy system is focused on the content distribution and delivery process. This will, in theory, help to prevent pre-release leaks. However, it won’t stop pirates from ripping movies and TV shows directly from Disney+.
Disney is not the only media company that has an interest in blockchain technology. Earlier this year, DISH Network secured a patent for a system that online services can use to check if an uploader has the proper rights to share something.
A copy of the “Blockchain configuration for secure content delivery” patent, awarded late last month, is available here (pdf)