Revamp the game: evolution of Russian media eco-system and blockchain technology/Обновление игры: эволюция российской медиа-экосистемы и технологии блокчейна

Литвинова Александра Игоревна

Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет

 Aleksandra Litvinova,

Saint Petersburg University

Статья содержит описание технологий распределенных реестров (блокчейн), их особенностей и преимущества для СМИ. Также представлены примеры использования этих технологий в различных медиапроектах. Рассматриваются возможности использования распределенных реестров для защиты авторских прав, создания/хранения/распространения контента, повышения эффективности рекламы и решения других задач. «Сквозные технологии» пока не вошли в сферу применения российского медиарынка. Однако мы можем ожидать существенных изменений в этом контексте в свете глобальной цифровизации общества и, в частности, реализации проекта «Умный город» в пилотных городах Российской Федерации.

The article introduces the technology of distributed rledgers (blockchain), their features and advantages. There are several examples of using this technologies in various media projects. We also present their potential using for protecting copyrights, creating / storing / distributing content, increasing advertising efficiency and others. This is only the future for Russian media market. HoweverA, we can expect a significant changes in this context in the light of the global digitalization of society and, in particular, the implementation of the Smart City project in the pilot cities of Russian Federation.

  1. Aditya Naik. “How is blockchain technology transforming the advt and media industry: Aditya Naik”. Athena Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd 10-01-2018.
  2. Bhowik D., Feng T. “The Multimedia Blockchain: A Distributed and Tamper-Proof Media Transaction Framework”. 22nd International Conference on Digital Signal Processing (DSP), pp. 1-5, 2017.
  3. Cho, Sunghyun, Jeong, Chiyoung. “A blockchain for media: Survey”. 2019 International Conference on Electronics, Information, and Communication (ICEIC) стр. 1 — 2.
  4. Daniel Drescher. “Blockchain Basics. A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps”. Berkeley, CA: Apress: Imprint: Apress, 2017.
  5. Gary Arlen. “WHAT BLOCKCHAIN MEANS TO MEDIA”. Broadcasting & Cable том. 148; № 7; стр. 23.
  6. Zyskind, O. Nathan, A. S. Pentland. “Decentralizing Privacy: Using Blockchain to Protect Personal Data”. IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, pp. 180-184, 2015.
  7. Grover, Purva, Kar, Arpan Kumar, Janssen, Marijn. “Diffusion of blockchain technology”. Journal of Enterprise Information Management том. 32; № 5; стр. 735 — 757.
  8. Torre, F. Koceva, O. R. Sanchez, G. Adorni. “A Framework for Personal Data Protection in the loT”. The 11th International Conference for Internet Technology and Secured Transactions, pp. 384-391, 2016.
  9. Li, Sijie. “An Author-Centered Media Blockchain Ecosystem”. 2018 IEEE 15th International Conference on e-Business Engineering (ICEBE) стр. 201 — 206.
  10. Tapscott, Don and Alex. “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies is Changing the World”. Penguin Books Ltd, 2019. — 432.
  11. Vishwa, Alka, Hussain, Farookh Khadeer. “A Blockchain based approach for multimedia privacy protection and provenance”. 2018 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (SSCI) стр. 1941 — 1945.
  12. Weaver Erik. “Blockchain and the Media Industry – The Next Big Hit”. 2018. URL: https://blog.westerndigital.com/blockchain-media-industry-next-big-hit/.
  13. Мелани Свон. “Блокчейн. Схема новой экономики”. Москва: Олимп-Бизнес, 2017. — 240 с.
  14. Табернакулов Александр, Койфман Ян. “Блокчейн на практике”. Москва: Альпина Паблишер, 2019. — 264 с.
  15. Тапскотт, Дон и Алекс [пер. с англ. К. Шашковой, Е. Ряхиной]. “Технология блокчейн: то, что движет финансовой революцией сегодня”. — Москва: Эксмо, 2018. — 448 с. — (Top Economics Awards).

 

  1. Aditya Naik. “How is blockchain technology transforming the advt and media industry: Aditya Naik”. Athena Information Solutions Pvt. Ltd 10-01-2018.
  2. Bhowik D., Feng T. “The Multimedia Blockchain: A Distributed and Tamper-Proof Media Transaction Framework”. 22nd International Conference on Digital Signal Processing (DSP), pp. 1-5, 2017.
  3. Cho, Sunghyun, Jeong, Chiyoung. “A blockchain for media: Survey”. 2019 International Conference on Electronics, Information, and Communication (ICEIC) стр. 1 — 2.
  4. Daniel Drescher. “Blockchain Basics. A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps”. Berkeley, CA: Apress: Imprint: Apress, 2017.
  5. Gary Arlen. “WHAT BLOCKCHAIN MEANS TO MEDIA”. Broadcasting & Cable том. 148; № 7; стр. 23.
  6. Zyskind, O. Nathan, A. S. Pentland. “Decentralizing Privacy: Using Blockchain to Protect Personal Data”. IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, pp. 180-184, 2015.
  7. Grover, Purva, Kar, Arpan Kumar, Janssen, Marijn. “Diffusion of blockchain technology”. Journal of Enterprise Information Management том. 32; № 5; стр. 735 — 757.
  8. Torre, F. Koceva, O. R. Sanchez, G. Adorni. “A Framework for Personal Data Protection in the loT”. The 11th International Conference for Internet Technology and Secured Transactions, pp. 384-391, 2016.
  9. Li, Sijie. “An Author-Centered Media Blockchain Ecosystem”. 2018 IEEE 15th International Conference on e-Business Engineering (ICEBE) стр. 201 — 206.
  10. Tapscott, Don and Alex. “Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies is Changing the World”. Penguin Books Ltd, 2019. — 432.
  11. Vishwa, Alka, Hussain, Farookh Khadeer. “A Blockchain based approach for multimedia privacy protection and provenance”. 2018 IEEE Symposium Series on Computational Intelligence (SSCI) стр. 1941 — 1945.
  12. Weaver Erik. “Blockchain and the Media Industry – The Next Big Hit”. 2018. URL: https://blog.westerndigital.com/blockchain-media-industry-next-big-hit/.
  13. Мелани Свон. “Блокчейн. Схема новой экономики”. Москва: Олимп-Бизнес, 2017. — 240 с.
  14. Табернакулов Александр, Койфман Ян. “Блокчейн на практике”. Москва: Альпина Паблишер, 2019. — 264 с.
  15. Тапскотт, Дон и Алекс [пер. с англ. К. Шашковой, Е. Ряхиной]. “Технология блокчейн: то, что движет финансовой революцией сегодня”. — Москва: Эксмо, 2018. — 448 с. — (Top Economics Awards).

СМИ, массовая коммуникация, медиа, блокчейн, распределенные реестры, медианет, цифровизация, умные города

Media, mass media, blockchain, distributed ledgers, medianet, digitalization

Communication technologies permeate almost all industries, being their integral element, and at the same time, technologies from a number of industries themselves are a driver of not only development, but also a radical transformation of the media industry. All this happens in the context of global digitalization — is one of the priorities of Russian government policy. Experts of Russian National technology initiative (NTI) [25] defined “cross-cutting technologies” — key scientific and technological areas that have the most significant impact on the development of new high-tech markets, and mark out 12 new global high-tech markets. Struggle for leadership in this fields will take place on the horizon of the next 20 years in the process of digitalization of the global economy. In these areas talented Russian technology entrepreneurs have the greatest chance of success, think experts of NTI. Medianet — is one of this perspective directions.

 MediaNet

MediaNet is a market of high-tech digital services and communication platforms, integrated into a single environment (ecosystem) for the creation, distribution and consumption of media messages [26]. Experts think, that by 2035, the global media market could reach $ 7 trillion. At the same time, the total volume of markets based on the MediaNet ecosystem can reach $ 22 trillion due to the appearance of fundamentally new services. Russia, due to its natural competitive advantages, namely the lack of a complex legal and technological heritage of a number of transforming industries, the availability of world-class specialists in critical areas of knowledge and a traditionally strong creative component, can occupy a disproportionately large place in this world market compared to the total share in global economy. This can be achieved by observing the following landmarks:

  • development of only holistic business models — not separate technologies;
  • the use of modern social sciences and neurotechnologies to create the most direct (deintermediated) communication channels between producers and consumers;
  • stimulating cross-industry or convergence of other industries (for example, telecom and e-commerce) to create disruptive business models;
  • active use of scientific developments in the field of new interfaces for human interaction with media content;
  • focus on the use of new technologies, in particular distributed registry technologies, for copyright management and fair distribution of income.

Given that MediaNet actually creates a non-physical, virtual human environment, three key groups that MediaNet is oriented to have been identified. These are the creators of content (people and robots), its consumers (people and robots) and distributors, ensuring the implementation of business and technological processes for the creation, packaging, distribution, consumption and monetization of digital content. MediaNet will create a space for people’s cooperation, for which, with the help of technological and business solutions, mechanisms will be implemented to ensure confidence in information, transparency and accessibility for perception by different audiences [26].

Expected evolution of old markets and the emergence of new ones are based on the development of “cross-cutting” digital technologies. The national program “Digital Economy” distinguishes nine of them: “big data”, neurotechnologies and artificial intelligence, distributed registry systems (blockchain), quantum technologies, new manufacturing technologies, the industrial Internet, robotics components and sensors, wireless technologies (in particular, 5G), virtual and augmented reality technologies (VR and AR). In this article we will consider some practices of using the technology of distributed registries in the media and their capabilities for the Russian market of new and old media.

Distributed ledgers

Distributed ledger and well-known word blockchain — is not only the buzzword of the day. The technology represents a new approach to creating databases, a key feature of which is the lack of a single control center. Its use is aimed at establishing trusting relationships in a digital environment, improving the traceability of actions within processes, decentralizing the processing and storage of data, and ensuring the security of data exchange between process participants. Each participant in the distributed registry system stores the entire history of changes and approves the addition of any changes to the system using the consensus algorithm, which mathematically guarantees the impossibility of falsifying data. Blockchain technology does not need the central server and the reliability of the participant in the network. A shared and distributed database stores transactions referred to as data in the blockchain. Blocks are chained to each previous block that contains one or more transactions in the blockchain. To add a new block, a consensus among the participants is needed. And there are many algorithms for consensus. This structure has many properties: transparency, security, safety, decentralization, and so on. The blockchain technology with these features and properties is required to protect the media [2]. The blockchain can be considered a purely distributed data store with additional properties such as being immutable, append-only, ordered, time-stamped, and eventually consistent. Being a generic data store means that the blockchain can store a wide range of data, which in turn makes it usable in a wide range of application areas. Based on its properties, we can identify the following generic-use patterns of the blockchain: proof of existence, proof of nonexistence, proof of time, proof of order, proof of identity, proof of authorship, proof of ownership [7].

Media and blockchain

From the point of view of the media, the above advantages of the technology make it possible to ensure the protection and immutability of stored data, protection of digital rights, intellectual property and digital assets. Blockchain can also be considered as a large-scale mechanism for confirming the quality of data, which can become a basic infrastructure element and a scalable mechanism for authenticating and verifying data. In addition, distributed ledger technology can be used to ensure freedom of speech and counter censorship. For example, one of the projects supporting freedom of speech is Alexandria. This application is based on the Open Index Protocol, a non-access system with a decentralized and transparent index for digital content and secure file storage.

Another blockchain project, that supports freedom of speech, is the Ostel service, which provides free encrypted telephony over VoIP. In August 2019, Google cloud wing announced its partnership with the Cypherium blockchain platform. Amazon Web Services has integrated its own Managed Blockchain platform into cloud storage services to create and configure blockchain networks, members, and nodes. According to the Decrypt portal, since July 2018, the number of trusted publishers using their Brave Rewards program has increased by 1200% in the privacy-oriented Brave browser. Statistics include sites such as the Washington Post and LadBible. According to the BATGrowth service, on September 15, over 266 272 authors took part in the Brave Rewards program, while in July 2018 their number was 18 931. Among them: more than 188 214 thousand Youtube publishers, more than 23 831 thousand Twitter-accounts, 5261 Reddit users and more than 31 795 websites [5].

In 2017 we saw the growth of a number of innovative blockchain-based projects in the media space [8]. Startups like MadHive and Truth announced or launched platforms designed to restore transparency and fairness to the ad tech industry using blockchains. Other startups, like Po.et and Steem, leveraged blockchain technology to manage digital content. And blockchain-based media companies came together to form the AdLedger consortium.

Europian and USA’s media industry has shown enormous interest in adopting blockchain technology. In particular, it helps to protect media consumers: most of blockchain projects in the media space have focused on helping people who produce or publish content. Multimedia safety, content copyright and the secure distribution of audio and music files, images and video/movies is becoming a concern for distributors, producers and artists [17]. It is important that the creator of media files should have complete access, authorization and a secure medium in which to share his data [28]. Online mediums, such as Internet-based cloud services like Dropbox or peer-to-peer communication is the best available medium in which to share data fast and effectively and to ensure privacy [17]. Copyright breaches in the multimedia sector provide an opportunity for the development of new platforms which enable the user to safely store and share his data. The platform should also provide the owner with authorization and safety measures to monitor the activity of a third party. These platforms need to be developed in such a way that the user has a choice in relation to which part of the data he will share and which part he will hide [4].

There is clear demand, however, for platforms that will also help users to protect their privacy when they access or share online content. Blockchains can be used to help ensure the accuracy of news, so that users can have confidence that what they read online is trustworthy. Blockchains also offer solutions for compliance with data regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which affects the ad industry — and virtually any other business that uses digital data or services. So far, most of the use cases that utilize blockchain solutions as a way to protect people who consume media have yet to be put into practice.

Decentralized content distribution methodologies such as Steemit and others have been launched, to take advantage of the ability to store encrypted content in a decentralized way across a network of nodes. For example, Steem is a blockchain-based rewarding platform for publishers to monetize content and build a community for them. Publisher can get different amounts of tokens by the “upvote” and “like”-based algorithms. And this system has spurred both the contents’ quality and their quantity considerably. [16]

Also we can talk about existents of needs for a secure and efficient method of authenticating media content, e.g., video recordings, video streams, audio recordings, audio streams, data streams from radars/lidars/spectrals, etc. The inventors’ summary information of this patent tells us, that disclosed are methods, systems and computer program products for authenticating media recordings and media streams using a digitally distributed ledger, e.g., a blockchain-based distribution ledger, a hash-graph, and any other hashes known in the art [17].

As is often the case with disruptive technology, most of the blockchain-based innovations in the media industry so far have been the work of startups. Established media companies have been slower to react to (or engage with) the blockchain revolution. Also some media giants have already started to take advantage of blockchains. Comcast is probably the most significant example: in June 2017, the company announced a new platform that lets marketers buy ads using a blockchain. It can solve some problems of Media Content Delivery. Decentralized, peer-to-peer content delivery networks that rely on a blockchain to store and distribute data are resilient against efforts to make traffic on the internet less “neutral”. They can also resist DDoS attacks by eliminating the reliance on centralized hubs — which can be attacked — for content distribution.

One of the most centralized aspects of the media industry is content production. Most profit-generating digital content, such as movies and TV shows, is produced or owned by a relatively small group of media companies. In some cases — like those of TV shows produced by Netflix or Amazon — the companies that create and distribute media are one and the same. The centralization of content production is unsurprising. Creating content is expensive and complex, especially for a large-scale production like a TV series or a movie. Traditionally, only substantial and established companies have had the resources to create content. Blockchains could change this. Individuals could invest in content production using a blockchain. People who create content could be paid via a blockchain. Content production could be orchestrated and managed through a blockchain. Blockchain technology has yet to be used in a major way to facilitate the creation of digital content. But disrupting the highly-centralized system through which most content is currently produced and distributed is an obvious proposition for blockchain technology [8].

The power of blockchain is its ability to track intellectual property and deliver a proof of work. For example, blockchain creates a smart contract of an exchange between two parties that don’t trust each other. It could offer visibility and access to the same facts to all stakeholders. It’s a very unique opportunity for media & entertainment and it can support the entire workflow – from production to distribution [8]. For example, led by The New York Times Research and Development team, The News Provenance Project’s website has launched, detailing how it will explore a blockchain-based system for recording and sharing metadata about media published by news organizations. The website indicates that the project is working with IBM Garage to develop its blockchain application. It is currently conducting user-centered research to inform a proof of concept that publishes news photos with indicators of their provenance and authenticity [18]. “Provenance is a digital platform that empowers brands to take steps toward greater transparency. With our software, businesses can easily gather and present information and stories about products and their supply chains, including verified data to support them. By connecting this information to things — in store, on pack and online, we can all discover the origin, journey and impact of our products” [19].   

At the end of August last year, the blockchain project The Civil Media and the Associated Press (AP) agreed on a partnership under which AP news and articles should appear in the Civil newsroom. However, other Civil members will also be able to obtain an AP content license [24]. Civil casted its eye to Asia after it set up a $1 million fund that’s aimed at seeding 100 new media projects across the continent over the next three years. The organization has teamed up with Splice, a Singapore-based media startup which will manage the fund. There’s been a lot of attention lavished on Civil for its promise to make media work more efficiently using blockchain technology and its upcoming crypto token, CVL. The organization has raised $5 million in financing from ConsenSys, the blockchain corporation led by Ethereum co-creator Joe Lubin. Civil has providing financial backing to The Colorado Sun — but the scope of the project in Asia is different in trying to kickstart a wave of new media organizations by giving them money to get off the ground. He also said that all kinds of media are in play, ranging from the more obvious suspects such as publishers, reporting websites and podcasts to behind-the-scenes tech like automation, bots and adtech [9].

Also blockchain can help with targeting: based on the data and the stats, consumer engagement due to an advertising campaign or media outreach is very hard to track. There is no guarantee to know if the right audience was only partially engaged or if you missed any relevant consumer section. But with blockchain, we can track real-time information about the consumers, their content consumption pattern and level of engagement with the brand. This is priceless information for the brand it will save unnecessary ad-spends and also allow them to be less intrusive and more timely with their consumer-engagement [13]. Traditionally, the advertising and media industry have middlemen who lengthen the business chain and often lead to unwanted operational costs on the company. Using the blockchain network we can eliminate these middlemen and brands will be closer to their consumers. This will allow them to better monitor the consumer experience and improve consumer satisfaction. One example here is the Brave Browser, wherein the viewer gets paid with BAT tokens for his time and engagement on the browser. The brand tracks the consumer involvement on the browser and incentivizes them accordingly. No media agency or intermittent person involved here, only the content creator, the content consumer, and the platform, period [13]. Data management is a powerful tool with marketers and how well they use it to read, analyze and target their audience, determines the success and failure of the brand. Analysis of the data is paramount but at the same time data piracy and theft is another major concern companies face. Many blockchain companies are working towards creating tools to track, monitor and draw accurate consumption patterns across all available screens, among various consumer groups. An interesting example of database management is BitClave. They incentivize consumers when they add their data to their blockchain database. Companies will now, need to search through the BitClave decentralized search engine and then compensate to engage with them [13].

Generally, blockchaine can solve two major crises of modern journalism — dwindled public confidence and support for media in the face of the rise in fake news and clickbait, and collapsing advertising models that supported journalism in the past [21].

There are no noticeable examples of using this technology in the Russian media market. However, we can expect a change in this trend in the light of the global digitalization of society and, in particular, the implementation of the Smart City project in the pilot cities of the Russian Federation. But not only in practice, in theory, the topic of distributed registries (blockchain) in the media context is also poorly represented. Unlike foreign science, the bulk of the publications of Russian media researchers are focused on cryptocurrencies and the use of technology in the financial sector (e.g. Ян Койфман, Александр Табернакулов, 2019). A rich body of literature has focused on the power of blockchain is its ability to track intellectual property and deliver a proof of work (e.g. Don Tapscott, Alex Tapscott, 2016; Melanie Swan, 2017). For example, blockchain creates a smart contract of an exchange between two parties that don’t trust each other. It could offer visibility and access to the same facts to all stakeholders. It’s a very unique opportunity for media  and entertainment and it can support the entire workflow – from production to distribution (e.g. Erik Weaver, 2017). This work is instructive because it helps us to find out not only how distributed ledger technologies are already applied in the economy and society, but also to predict their development in relation to the media world, the ability to protect key principles of media work — to protect freedom of speech, free access to information and the accuracy of published data.

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  3. “An Author-Centered Media Blockchain Ecosystem”. Li, Sijie, 2018 IEEE 15th International Conference on e-Business Engineering (ICEBE) стр. 201 — 206.
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