BlockChain – Not the New DRM Solution

Block Chains?

The latest hot startup fashion is Block Chain. Of course this is based on the popularity, and understanding of the advantages of BitCoin.

There are musicians running around thinking that Block Chains are going to save the day in protection of Music. I haven’t heard of Disney or others running around with their hair on fire about protecting movies with Block Chains, yet. Perhaps Block Chains will at last save Mickey Mouse from rampant copyright? Somehow I don’t think so.

Let’s quickly examine what block chain is good for, and what it won’t do.

What Block Chains Are

Block Chains are a non-centralized method for keeping a journal or account book. If you have a “digital” resource then block chains can be used to protect distributed copies of this from tampering such that there can be shared agreement on the content of the blocks. With BitCoin the shared content is the transactions of the currency.

What Block Chains Can and Cannot Do

One might use SHA-256, for example, to do a hash of an MP3 of a song, and then build a block chain for your record label and build a player that would only play songs that were agreed to be owned by you. Yes that is possible.

But that would not prevent the escape of that content from your B-Chained Garden. There are too many ways to capture and recode images, music, or video content, that is played on a computer. It’s basically trivial to get Sound and Video out of your garden and re-distribute it without your DRM, whatever it is.

There are several products out there that capture the screen with audio while a movie, from any source, is played on the computer screen. AKA recode video without any DRM. And the same goes for Audio alone. Removing DRM from content is trivial.

So if you think you are going to protect your images, music or video with Block Chain, forget it.

What Block Chains are Good For

Banks and Stock Markets are looking seriously at block chains. Here there are no other ways to have your content escape, because the folks who are using the journal all agree to play by the rules. If you are a bank and you sign up to play, you can’t renege later when it suits your financials. So while Block Chains were invented to support a currency outside of the mainstream, there is now noise from many quarters about them coming to the service of the mainstream.

Block Chain Startups

I’m not clear why Block Chains are getting any traction in the content industries when the means of escape are so obvious.