Bitcoin is often seen as the currency of online pirates. But content producers and rights holders may soon be embedding hidden Bitcoin bounties on to their work to help lead authorities to the pirates spreading it illegally.

Anonymously claiming a hidden Bitcoin wallet embedded on a piece of media will firstly reward the so-called snitch, but also send an alert that information has been pirated and illegally shared.

Claim the bounty, report the pirate

It is a constant battle for right holders to maintain the control of their work, as blocking and closing down illegal websites is becoming more and more futile.

It has seen a tech company based in South Africa called Custos Media Technologies take a different approach.

Their idea is that a hidden watermark, which contains a small amount of Bitcoin, can be placed on media files like movies or ebooks. If you’re the first person to find the watermark, you can claim the Bitcoin prize and in doing so will alert Custos.

“Each watermark contains a Bitcoin wallet, with a reward for anyone who anonymously claims it once the media has passed out of the control of the original recipient,” the company says.

“Media downloaders who want to search for such rewards can do so anonymously, from anywhere in the world. The moment a bounty is claimed — and by the nature of cryptocurrencies, this can only happen once — the transaction reflects on the Blockchain, and Custos notifies the media provider of the incident.”

Blockchain bounties make the system work

This idea set out by Custos again shows how Blockchain technology’s scope is increasing and finding more and more uses.

In this case, as a bounty, the Blockchain is effective in delivering the bounty as the pirated software is found and reported.

The system relies on a peer-to-peer architecture which allows users to transact directly without needing an intermediary and all transactions are recorded in a digital ledger that can’t be altered.

Of course, the system also allows those doing the reporting to remain anonymous.