Disney sees blockchain replacing watermarks to fight film piracy

Disney has a blockchain patent to make it more difficult for movie theatre insiders to pirate films.

Entertainment giant Disney won a blockchain patent that audits film playbacks at theatres — a move to combat piracy, TorrentFreak reports.

Disney’s patent looks to clamp down on film piracy at the hands of theatre insiders. The company reckons its system would stop movies being played before their release.

“The blockchain configuration verifies that the content is received at the intended destination prior to allowing playback of the content at that destination,” reads the patent docs.

  • Watermarks are traditionally used to prevent leaks from theatres.
  • But watermarks alone can’t stop movie piracy.
  • They offer reactive benefits, not preventative, Disney explained.

Indeed, watermarks track piracy after it’s occurred. “As a result, current configurations do not adequately prevent piracy,” said Disney.

Disney wants blockchain in movie theatres.

And so, Disney wants to use a distributed ledger system (not its first) to tally how many times a film is played. The patent describes it as a blockchain-powered auditing mechanism.

“Therefore, piracy by the intended recipient, in the form of a greater quantity of actual playbacks than reported playbacks, is prevented,” said Disney.

Disney blockchain for outdated piracy

Disney’s proposed blockchain system does seem like it will help prevent pre-leaks, particularly from film theatres. 

But it won’t stop pirates from screen-capturing videos from Disney’s streaming channel directly — or piracy by other means like transcoding.

Blockchain can do some things but eliminating film piracy is likely not one of them.

[Read more: Microsoft cans Azure Blockchain, pushes users to Ethereum’s ConsenSys]

Disney’s Mulan was reported to be the most pirated movie on the internet during its first weekend online last year.

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