Depending on what market you are in, between 20% and 60% of screener copies (early release copies of movies) are leaked. We’ve taken movie piracy down to zero in every market we have entered, all with the power of the blockchain.

Netflix has over 118 million subscribers over 190 countries. They’ve been experiencing unprecendented growth, for an entertainment company, since 1997.

They boast over 6,000 movie titles and 1,000 TV series on their U.S. catalogue alone – which they are able to stream to users instantly anywhere in the world – in what can only be described as a technological marvel.

The leaders in global media distribution, however, are movie pirates.

Napster made media downloads available worldwide in 1999. BitTorrent was created in 2001, and allowed for file sharing without requiring heavy infrastructure. The first Pirate Bay server in 2003 was a normal home PC.

In 2005, when YouTube uploaded their first video, and Netflix was still delivering DVDs, and sharing over the BitTorrent network accounted for over 25% of all web traffic.

The Pirate Bay works in all countries, and is frequently first-to-market with the latest titles.

How Movie Piracy Works

Piracy is still the market leader in media distribution, and the rise of streaming video on demand (SVOD) platforms, like Netflix, is not a threat to this market dominance.

In 2017, the largest pirates sites had more than 300 billion site visits, an increase of 3.1% YoY. This compares to Netflix which only had 109 million subscribers worldwide at the time. If each Netflix subscriber visited a pirate site every day of the year, it would still be under 40 billion site visits.

Equating The Pirate Bay or BitTorrent to piracy is frequently done by the media, but in truth, the piracy ecosystem is diverse and distributed.

As was seen with the shutdown of one of the most popular torrent tracking sites, KickassTorrents, the ecosystem can react and evolve around attacks on it. (See the Custos whitepaper on the Anti-Fragility of the Piracy Ecosystem).

While a freshly leaked blockbuster title can spread across the globe within hours, local sharing communities can be insular and idiosyncratic.

A recent documentary highlighted how physical storage is used to pirate content in infrastructure-poor Cuba. In other infrastructure-poor countries, pirated movies will be available from street vendors long before they reach any form of digital distribution channel.

In South Africa, DC++ is well known by students, and media sharing is facilitated within academic intranets.

In Japan, which has some of the most stringent laws against piracy, the focus is on anonymity, and services based on Perfect Dark allow users to easily mask their IP address.

Seeding groups are at the forefront of the piracy ecosystem, and each has their own culture and rules. For the most elite groups, only an invite from an insider will get you in. Once in, a seeding-to-leeching ratio needs to be maintained.

Groups compete for new releases, and early leaks can circulate within these closed groups for weeks before they reach the public piracy sites where scanning services can detect and index them.

How Movie Piracy can be Stopped

At Custos Media Technologies, we use a combination of forensic watermarking, blockchain tech, and AWS cloud storage infrastructure to build secure content hosting and sharing platforms for media owners and distributors anywhere in the world.

Our patented blockchain-based infringement monitoring technology allows media owners to rapidly discover when their content leaked, and where the infringement originated.

Say you are a filmmaker, and you have just finished editing your final copy of a movie. You want to drive up the hype so you want to get it in front of some reviewers.
You contact Custos about their anti-piracy solutions for filmmakers, upload your movie to their secure video distibution platform, Screener Copy, and input the emails addresses of some reviewers that you know.
On the back end, the platform generates unique copies for each reviewer. In each copy, using cutting edge forensic watermarking, we embed a Bitcoin wallet. A Bitcoin wallet is just a special string of numbers. This number is not visible to a viewer, but encoded into small variations in the colour and brightness that a human eye won’t be able to see, but that will remain in the copy even if you copy or compress it.
In each Bitcoin wallet there’s a bit of Bitcoin. Any one in the world that finds a copy in the wild can take this Bitcoin as their reward, and through the blockchain we are informed whose copy was found somewhere it should not have been. 

Custos is the first company in the world to use blockchain technology to catch a pirate red-handed.

This is big news both to the blockchain and media industries.

Deterring leaks is exactly what our technology is intended to do. The fact that we add tracking technology to each copy is meant to instil a credible threat of detection on any would-be pirate. Zero leaks from over 140,000 movies exceeded even our own expectations about how effective the technology would be. Our main market is for pre- or early release movies, where you expect between 20–60% of titles leaked.

Custos effectively stopped early stage movie piracy.

What to do if Your Movie has been Pirated

Step 1: Read this post – How to minimise profit loss after a pre-release screener leak.

Step 2: Contact a Custos Representative to chat about our affordable anti-piracy software for filmmakers, media resellers, and enterprise media tech companies. 

This post is an excerpt from our latest whitepaper, Why Watermarking is not Enough: How Blockchain Technology can be Used to Stop Online Piracy. Click here to download your free copy today.