October 6, 2017

nChain Innovation: Digital Rights Management on the Blockchain


One of the key opportunities offered by blockchain technologies is their ability to increase efficiencies in the commercial landscape through the removal of unnecessary intermediaries within a transaction.

Digital rights management is one such market where opportunities exist to connect content producers and rightsholders directly to consumers whilst ensuring that they are rewarded for their creativity, and nChain has been exploring some techniques that can facilitate this opportunity through the use of blockchain techniques.

In application PCT/IB2017/050827 (WO2017145009), we demonstrate a technique that will work for any content that has an executable phase (which is not limited to computer software, but can incorporate music, video and even PDF files) to check, via a blockchain lookup that the accessing resource both has acquired a licence for the content, and more importantly that the licence remains valid.  (This application is entitled “A method and system for securing computer software using a distributed hash table and a blockchain”).  The executable phase checks the licence and validity against the blockchain by expanding on the key generation technique explored in our application PCT/IB2017/050856 (WO2017145016) described in a prior blog post.

The above technique is constrained by having an executable phase embedded within the content, but another technique, building on the same key generation technique and captured in our additional application PCT/IB2017/050978 (WO2017145047), demonstrates how episodic streamed content (such as the next “Game of Thrones” season) can be controlled via the blockchain.  (This application is entitled “Blockchain-implemented Method for Control and Distribution of Digital Content.”) This technique allows the content rightsholder to make an entire season or series available to the consumer, but allows the consumer to only pay for the episodes that they then choose to watch.

nChain’s PCT patent applications for the two inventions described above are available here:

A method and system for securing computer software using a distributed hash table and a blockchainPCT/IB2017/050827 (WO2017145009)

Blockchain-implemented Method for Control and Distribution of Digital Content – PCT/IB2017/050978 (WO2017145047)