Tallinn University and Tallinn University of Technology collaborate with White Rabbit on developing new blockchain based Registry of Film Rights
Tallinn University together with Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) collaborate with White Rabbit to study the ways of creating value (including public value) for the wider film industry and the European societies by using blockchain technologies and related open governance methods. The collaboration takes place within the framework of Tallinn University’s research project “Public Value of Open Cultural Data”, funded by Estonian Research Council.
White Rabbit is a start-up company using blockchain technology to build a Registry of Film Rights (RFR) to be used to track the usage of films on the internet, allowing easier payments by users/customers for watching films and faster and cheaper transactions for the rightsholders. The aim of the solution is to improve the diversity of film circulation, empower the producers with technology, make it feasible for rights owners to distribute their films to a global online audience directly – improving thereby the diversity of cultural flows in Europe and across the world.
RFR is designed to deliver revenue to rights holders based on recognizing content streamed anywhere online, accumulating information about each individual film title and its ownership, recorded immutably on the RFR blockchain. The integrated record of content, rights and other metadata about films is expected to allow the assignment of rights, facilitate transparent mediation of disputes, and ensure producers, investors and institutions can verify rights from the moment a producer acquires intellectual property all the way through financing, production and exploitation of films. All transactions would be performed on blockchain leaving an immutable record and immediate settlement of deals. This includes payments for streaming, cinema tickets and usage across any other media.
With the original chain of rights, documents are stored in one place and encoded into a protocol, which allows for FIAT payments via blockchain-supported transactions, including royalties paid transparently and in real time to all parties involved. By using the above described methods and technologies White Rabbit expects to contribute to a global standard on how film market data is recorded in public blockchains, eliminating the need for centralised control. Yet, a new multi-stakeholder governance model needs to be developed to enable producers, investors and institutions to verify information with creators and their guilds, as well as to allow investors and funders to access information on contracts, transactions and payments.
White Rabbit’s research collaboration with Tallinn University and Tallinn University of Technology involves two closely interrelated sub-studies.
The first sub-study involves a development of a token economy for governance of commercial transactions on the RFR. With regard to media markets governance this is a generally understudied and underdeveloped area. Related solutions that have been developed to date have been applied in the domains of security, privacy, trust management and authentication (see , , , , ). However, a gap exists in that blockchain technology has not yet been investigated as a means for governing complex intellectual property (IP) rights within the media industry. Until recently, a method for developing blockchain-based governance applications has also been missing .
Our collaborative research project fills this general gap by applying a novel blockchain-DApp (distributed application) development method to develop the governance lifecycle for blockchain-based IP management jointly with White Rabbit. Furthermore, this so-called DAOM methodology  lays the foundation for developing a tailored token economy and allows for legal compliance verification of the targeted platform for media content management. To the best of our knowledge, no blockchain-based media IP-management system with a coherent governance lifecycle exists to date. By applying the novel DAOM method, we aim to pioneer a coherent socio-legal technical approach for developing the White Rabbit platform.
The second sub-study on which White Rabbit, Tallinn University and Taltech will be collaborating involves the development of public value for the wider film industry and European societies. Here we define public value in terms of Mazzucato  – as a dynamic process in which public investments and labour by multiple parties create and shape a market that then generates different kinds of new value, including again public value – to be used by multiple parties to create new value. Different kinds of stakeholders, both public and private, participate in this system in order to secure a diversity of values produced – potentially useful for broader societies. Our hypothesis is that RFR has a potential to provide public value as, firstly, it turns film market data into a public good and, secondly, allows third parties to build their services on top of it in order to deliver innovation in financing, producing, marketing and distributing films. The system would collect data about film consumption and share it with the broader film industry, potentially undermining data monopolication by the dominant global streaming platforms. To understand how RFR could contribute more public value would be useful for various kinds of stakeholders and broader European societies. We aim to carry out at least 20 interviews with relevant stakeholders, both public and private. The interviews will focus on expectations of value creation processes and related appropriate governance models for the RFR. The insights from this sub-study will inform the first sub-study on how to design an RFR token economy and the new governance model.
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