How do motion picture studios protect their valuable content from piracy during distribution and exhibition in theaters? A recently awarded Disney patent aims to tackle such issues using blockchain, the distributed ledger technology underpinning popular cryptocurrencies.

The patent, “Blockchain Configuration For Secure Content Delivery” outlines the workings of a blockchain-based content distribution system for delivering, monitoring, and controlling playback of audiovisual works delivered to movie theaters. Through such a system, Disney may achieve an advancement in tackling the ongoing problem of piracy leaks when movies are released in theaters.

The proposed system would use blockchain technology to verify that the media content is received at the intended destination prior to allowing playback of the content. In addition, the system is described as having “an automated auditing mechanism” that would track playback of the content on verified projectors to ensure that the quantity of playbacks is accurately recorded. Therefore, the patent description explains, “piracy by the intended recipient, in the form of a greater quantity of actual playbacks than reported playbacks, is prevented.”

Specially, the blockchain-based system would work through a registration server to generate a blockchain for each movie or specified content (a content identifier) and establish blocks for each playback system (a playback system identifier). The system would be able to grant a license to each playback system for playback of the content, and each playback system would generate “transactions” in the blockchain for each playback. Then the content itself is encrypted throughout the process.

The patent notes that this process is superior to current anti-piracy methods, which are “reactive rather than preventative.” For example, watermarking inserts “a watermark into content to track piracy after the piracy has already occurred. As a result, current configurations do not adequately prevent piracy.”

Whether Disney has plans to implement the system described in the patent is unknown, but the patent certainly further demonstrates the versatility of blockchain technology and evidences a growing interest in using blockchain technology to solve various problems.

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Christopher O'Brien

Chris O’Brien is a member of Venable’s Entertainment and Media Group and a co-chair of Venable’s Blockchain and Digital Currencies Group. He is a corporate attorney who works with major corporations, established companies, and nascent enterprises. Chris advises buyers, sellers, investors, and joint…

Chris O’Brien is a member of Venable’s Entertainment and Media Group and a co-chair of Venable’s Blockchain and Digital Currencies Group. He is a corporate attorney who works with major corporations, established companies, and nascent enterprises. Chris advises buyers, sellers, investors, and joint venture partners in a range of corporate transactions and financings. He frequently serves as outside general counsel for his clients, including content producers and distributors, talent agencies, operating companies across a range of industries, and varied financing sources.

Christopher L. Boone

Chris Boone focuses his practice on regulatory issues related to payment processing, blockchain, advertising and marketing, transportation, and telecommunications. Chris provides counsel on regulatory compliance, contract negotiations, and general business matters. He also regularly assists clients in responding to federal and state investigative…

Chris Boone focuses his practice on regulatory issues related to payment processing, blockchain, advertising and marketing, transportation, and telecommunications. Chris provides counsel on regulatory compliance, contract negotiations, and general business matters. He also regularly assists clients in responding to federal and state investigative inquiries, demands, and complaints from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), state attorneys general, and other federal and state authorities.