Custos Media Technologies, a South African startup that combats media piracy by using the bitcoin blockchain, has announced it has raised US$420,000 from SA company, Technology Innovation Agency (TIA).
The funds, which will be injected into the startup over the next two years, will be used to accelerate product development and marketing to bring the product to more people.
Head of ICT Strategic Technology Area at TIA, Mr Segopotso Moshapo said, “Custos is a good example of the kind of innovation ventures for which TIA was established to provide support, where science and technology advancements are the basis for creating new products, services and global enterprises.”
Custos combats media privacy by embedding a bitcoin wallet containing a bounty into each copy of a media item (e.g. a movie, ebook, or song) that is sent to a client. This wallet is associated with the individual customer who bought the item.
If a bad actor uploads the media to a pirate site, any downloader can claim the bounty. Custos can rapidly detect whose copy was infringed, and can report the event to the media owner for further action.
By effectively using pirates to incriminate other pirates, the company creates an environment where media recipients are strongly discouraged from distributing content, and where artists can be duly rewarded for their efforts.
The startup is currently serving clients in the film industry, and is already in talks with UK-based Erudition Digital to bring their solution to ebook publishing.
This new funding is the second it has received from TIA. The first was a seed fund of about US$35,000 which helped take the startup from a lab prototype to a full product.
“TIA has again shown their commitment to support early-stage technology businesses in South Africa. The funding agreement will allow Custos to accelerate product development, while simultaneously freeing up resources to spend on bringing the product to the widest possible market,” said GJ van Rooyen, CEO of Custos.