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Introducing LBRY: The Bitcoin of Content

Mike Vine • Sep 9 2015

New Startup Applies Blockchain Technology to Music, Movies, and More

Welcome to LBRY (pronounced "library") – the first decentralized, open source, fully encrypted content distribution service built using the same blockchain technology that underlies Bitcoin.

File sharing went mainstream with Napster. For the first time, content could be shared easily on a peer-to-peer basis – but only within a closed ecosystem. Since then, BitTorrent has made file sharing safer and faster – but requires websites to post links and depends on individual hosts to offer content for free. LBRY is the next evolution.

BitTorrent is too complicated, too centralized, and has bad incentives.

LBRY solves the problem using blockchain technology, encryption, and a built-in marketplace. What Bitcoin is doing for money, LBRY will do for content.

— Jeremy Kauffman, co-founder of LBRY

Content in LBRY is encrypted by its publisher, then cut apart and distributed to a decentralized network of host servers. LBRY hosts do not know the content of the encrypted files they store, and nobody can access the complete content without the publisher's unique decryption key. The publisher can exchange the key for a specified number of LBRY credits – a cryptocurrency native to the LBRY protocol.

Not only do LBRY publishers literally hold the keys to their content, but the end-user experience is also vastly improved compared to torrents. By encrypting and distributing content across the blockchain, LBRY provides a one-step streaming and downloading experience to the content-consuming patron.

Here's what a publisher and patron relationship looks like in LBRY:

  1. Filmmaker Jessica wants to release her new original documentary, Library of the Future.

  2. Jessica reserves a LBRY name – lbry://futurelibraryfilm – that points to her content. This LBRY name can also include a description and photos of her content.

  3. The film is encrypted and sliced into many pieces. These pieces are distributed to hosts. Jessica has now "published" her film in LBRY.

  4. Patron John wants to watch the movie, so he visits lbry://futurelibraryfilm and pays 5 credits to decrypt and watch the film. Those credits go to compensate Jessica for publishing the work and the many hosts for storing the content.

  5. John's LBRY client seamlessly streams or downloads the film by collecting the pieces from the hosts and reassembling them.

Every party to this transaction has had a better experience than they would have with ad-supported platforms like YouTube, subscription services like Netflix, or hunting for torrent links.

For publishers, LBRY is the least expensive content distribution platform available – and increases the likelihood that they will get paid for their content. Content remains entirely under the control of the publisher, with no licensing or other claims by LBRY. In fact, by design, the content publisher retains complete control of their works – LBRY has no "admins" who even have the ability to remove content from the network. They can also offer their content at memorable, branded names like lbry://futurelibraryfilm, rather than pointing patrons to a centralized URL or complicated magnet link.

Meanwhile, patrons get more available content due to better incentives and a seamless experience that even technophobes can understand.

LBRY is the latest of a series of crypto-apps released over the past year that utilize the blockchain to provide maximum decentralization of services, and certainly the first designed for users outside the tech community. When it goes to full release in Q4:15, LBRY's founders expect it to immediately improve the lives of any user who produces or consumes content. It may be the vehicle that takes blockchain tech to the masses.

The creators of LBRY are extending members of the press a first-peek preview and demonstration of the system. You are invited to a live demo hosted by co-creator Jeremy Kauffman on Tuesday, September 15th at 11 am ET. Please RSVP by contacting press liaison Mike Vine at 917-719-6333 or mike@lbry.com.

Photo of Mike Vine
Mike Vine ·

Mike was one of the early team members of LBRY.

He contributed to marketing and branding in the earliest days of the app.