FEED Issue 15

42 ROUND TABLE Blockchain

director, producer, actor or crew can verify the payments themselves. As we say, “Don’t trust us, check the ledger yourself!” FEED: Where on the hype curve are we with blockchain? CLIFF FLUET: There has been plenty of hype, particularly around digital currencies and blockchain-powered tokens. In late 2017, the price of Bitcoin increased to around $20,000. People not only speculated on the value of digital blockchain-based currencies, but speculated on the value of tokens of utility issued by companies in the space. Whilst the business of digital currencies has stabilised somewhat, the application of blockchain technology is growing with the transactions themselves being programmable and automated for ever more innovative solutions. Disillusionment’, right where the real work starts. Many projects and start-ups are working on blockchain solutions that will create sustainable value in the next two to three years. And national governments, as well as the European Commission, are working on regulatory frameworks that provide the right ‘living conditions’ for blockchain companies and solutions. COLLIN MÜLLER: The biggest hype is over. We’re in Gartner’s ‘Trough of JOE NAYLOR: I would also say that we are headlong into the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’. There was a lot of capital poured into the space from 2017 to 2018, including a lot of dumb capital. That led to quite a bit of fraud, unfortunately. But I suspect that once the dust settles, there will be legitimate blockchain-enabled applications and services that provide value within the constraints of what the technology actually enables. MARIA TANJALA: We’re very hype agnostic, so we’re not making any predictions. Cryptocurrencies became common knowledge at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 when there was a boom of transactions and trading, but that doesn’t mean much. Every day the network is growing bigger, and this network never stops; that’s what matters. FEED: What do people most need to understand about blockchain? And what are the biggest misconceptions? CLIFF FLUET: One misconception is that it is somehow ‘new’, when the technology


dates back to a white paper published in 2008, and the first bitcoin transactions were made just under a decade ago. There’s also an inherent confusion with the digital currencies and blockchain technology itself, with the unsavoury uses some have used Bitcoin for or the lack of regulation in financial markets somehow being conflated with blockchain being unlawful. The underlying technology will have far-reaching effects when the focus is on what it enables rather than how it does it. Lastly, the biggest misconception is that it is magic, rather than what it really is – an ingenious solution to a number of real problems in a digitised world. COLLIN MÜLLER: Most people equate blockchain with cryptocurrencies, but cryptocurrencies were just the first class of applications running on that basic infrastructure. People need to understand that blockchain technology is about to change our world at least as much as the web did in the past 20 years. Blockchain technology changes the way we have been organising human societies for the last 5000 years. Since the dawn of the first big cities we relied on middlemen when a group became too big for everyone to know and trust everybody else. With blockchain, we can organise global networks of strangers without any need for middlemen. JOE NAYLOR: The single biggest misconception is that blockchain is software that will solve some problem – or every problem. But blockchain does not do anything; it is simply a new kind of database, and currently not a very good one in terms of speed, costs and efficiencies. FEED: What opportunities are there for media companies and content creators in using blockchain? CLIFF FLUET: Most will agree that the worldwide web was the ‘internet of information and communications’ and that

allowed media content to go around the world as fast as networks could carry it. The opportunity for the blockchain is that it could represent the ‘internet of value’. By being, in and of itself, a robust payment platform it could allow rights owners to disintermediate brokers and/or payment providers that deduct a percentage simply for ‘reselling’ goods in an online environment. The sale of digital goods is complex and not nearly as ‘cost free’ as people might assume. COLLIN MÜLLER: The media sector is one of the best examples for economies dominated by strong middlemen. Google, Facebook, Netflix, Spotify and a few others control the media market and extract as much value as they can, leaving very little for participants at the edges. Blockchain is the best available tool for organising markets without middlemen. Therefore, it is our best chance for shifting power and money from the central dominating platforms to the edges of the media ecosystem – ie. to creators, advertisers and consumers. JOE NAYLOR: If properly linked to court-recognised copyright registration instruments, data recorded on a public blockchain can serve media companies’ and creators’ efforts to clear rights for licensing purposes and help eliminate uncertainties and mistakes when asserting claims of authorship and copyright ownership. MARIA TANJALA: Blockchain is catching up as an outstanding innovation in film, TV, digital and art. There are vast areas where it can increase transparency and efficiency – allocation of revenues on smart contracts, real-time reporting, governance, micropayments, rights management tracking, VOD on the blockchain, and influencers’ incentives through tokens are some of my favourites. FEED: What real world examples have you seen where blockchain was a great solution?

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