Start-Up Offers Bitcoins for Policing Media Piracy

Scholars from South Africa’s Stellenbosch University have launched an innovative start-up that offers bitcoins to individuals in exchange for their assistance in policing media piracy.

Also Read: South Africa to Take “Balanced Approach” to Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Regulations

Custos Uses Bitcoins to Incentivize Users to Identify the Origin of Pirated Media

Start-Up Offers Bitcoins for Policing Media Piracy

Custos assists book publishers and movie studios by embedding the private keys for a bitcoin wallet into digital files of advance copies and encourages individuals to screen pirated files using free screening software. The identification of the private keys concealed within a file allowing Custos to track the origin of the file’s leak, with the individual who reveals the private key receiving roughly $5 – $10 USD worth of bitcoin.

The project is chiefly designed to identify when a movie is leaked between its final cut and cinematic release, a period in which tens of thousands of advance copies of a film are distributed to critics and reviewers. Traditionally, identifying the source of a leak during this period has been impossible, but Custos believes that bitcoin will provide adequate incentive for the consumers of pirated media to help trace the origin of their files.

“We Can Employ a Community of Anonymous Individuals, Doing Things That Have Tangible Value” – G-J Van Rooyen, Custos Co-Founder

Start-Up Offers Free Bitcoins for Policing Media Piracy

Custos co-founder, G-J Van Rooyen, has expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating “whether you call it a post-capital economy or a new peer-to-peer economy, it’s magical. “We can employ a community of anonymous individuals, doing things that have tangible value… for all the excitement about the blockchain, there’s a heck of a lot you can do with traditional cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.”

The company claims that on average it takes just 42 seconds for an individual to claim the bitcoin bounty concealed in a file once it has been uploaded to social networks. If a file has been leaked onto the dark web, the bounty is claimed within 5 minutes on average, and 28 minutes on average for offline media such as files copied to a CD. Custos has seen the majority of its use from individuals living in developing countries, where the bitcoin bounty is of considerable value.

Do you think that Custos’ model of incentivizing the identification of leaked files with free bitcoin will lead to a reduction in the circulation of pirated media? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock and Custos


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  • Take out the word “piracy,” and you may have something: a way to catch leakers who are under contract not to leak.

  • Storm Chaser

    Freeeeeeeeedom

  • I want my, I want my, I want my MTVeee…Sure, then get reported to the MPAA. It will be abused. Thanks for loading the gun.

  • Isualk Tnagniew

    5-10$… What a profit 🙂 take 50 bucks invest in BTC und you will get more money for nothing 🙂