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Ask HN: Before We Spend Millions, What Do You Think of This Blockchain Use Case?
67 points by kauffj 60 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments
LBRY uses a blockchain to store metadata related to digital content and provide pointers to a more traditional decentralized P2P network like BitTorrent. The blockchain also provides publisher identities, human-friendly URLs (e.g. lbry://@MinutePhysics/magnetic-levitation), and a payment mechanism.

You can learn more at https://lbry.tech. https://lbry.tech/spec provides a detailed technical description of the protocol.

Unlike most blockchain companies, we did no ICO, no token sales to VCs, and have spent zero energy hyping or pumping the price of our coin.

Nonetheless, we were able to bank several million dollars at the peak of the cryptocurrency boom (we provide full transparency at https://lbry.io/credit-reports).

HN is regularly and rightly skeptical of blockchain. So our questions are:

- Do you see this as a promising use of blockchain?

- Does https://lbry.tech/spec provide a clear and thorough description of what LBRY is?

- How can we make LBRY better?

HN users seanyesmunt, lyoshenka and jiggytom all work on the LBRY project.




I strongly recommend this simple flowchart as a first-pass heuristic for whether you've found a good use for blockchain.

https://imgur.com/a/RlUj9Ed

HN discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18543454

Does it pass that test?


I believe it does. Let's take it point by point.

Shared data store: yes. One of the biggest problems with Bittorrent is that you can only use it if you already know the infohash of the content you want. There's no index of the available content. There are lots of third-party search engines that try to monitor the network and help you find stuff. They are all incomplete and using them is a bad experience.

Does more than one entity need to contribute: yes. Anyone and everyone can publish to LBRY or pay for LBRY content. If only one entity had write access, that would be a point of censorship.

Data is never deleted: yes. Once you publish something to a decentralized network, its out there. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. We actually do have a mechanism to "update" the metadata (description of the content that's stored in the blockchain) by connecting a diff with updated data to the original blockchain transaction.

Sensitive information will not be written: yes.

No single trusted entity: yes. That's how we can make a strong promises about censorship resistance and you don't have to trust that we won't change our mind later.

Tamperproof log of all writes: I'm not sure why this one is strictly necessary, and why we should not use a blockchain if we don't care about a tamperproof log. Please help me understand.


Blockchain requires a tremendous amount of electricity, contributed by all those participating in the cryptographic portion of the network. If you're not using blockchain to create a tamper-proof log, you shouldn't be wasting the planet's resources on a blockchain project.

Even if you can roll back the requirement to "tamper-resistant" you can get away from the necessity of blockchain: use a hash chain instead.

Since you don't care about tampering, I request that you avoid blockchain.


Check out this simpler one (even hosted on LBRY!!): https://spee.ch/doyouneedablockchain lbry://doyouneedablockchain



And now it's on spee.ch! https://spee.ch/4/blockchain-flow


Oh nice, that's simpler to follow! But the other one is helpful in suggesting the specific alternative.


No. It fails at the second step because ownership is generally not contested and a single trustworthy organization can be responsible for all writes. In the event that a blockchain based project is financially successful, you should expect that a more efficient, single trustworthy competitor will arrive with lower costs.


What single company do you suggest can be trusted to maintain a listing of digital content that anyone can contribute to without censoring or interfering with the listing in some way?

We already know we cannot trust Google, Facebook, Apple, or Amazon.

And even if there is a company that we could trust, what happens when a censorious government wants something removed?


IP licensing can't be enforced outside of governments... Either you have enforcement and possible censorship, or you have no enforcement. The stated goal was to provide some form of payment system for content, but in a truly distributed system any valuable content will be paid for once and then reposted without payment required.


The ability to repost content without payment required is already true of every existing digital media distribution system. We do not claim to improve this situation.

LBRY does not provide IP enforcement. The primary reasons people pay for content when they could get all content for free are: 1) their personal morality and 2) fear of legal repercussions

The same will be true on LBRY.


We have Wikipedia, internet archive, library system that could be counted here as well no?


I'm fairly certain that Wikipedia does not allow anyone to upload a video or image and to my knowledge (though I'm less certain) the Internet Archive does not either. My second point would apply to both of those entities, regardless.



This is a good chart. At a first glance - yes, their use case does pass this test.


Could you summarize why?


I see two failure points - I don't think you need a tamperproof log of all the writes to the datastore, and you might want to update records for where things are located over time.


Could you explain why a blockchain should not be use if a tamperproof log is not necessary? If the log is just a byproduct but the rest of the properties are necessary, is that still a valid use case?


First pass at website:

1. the main paragraph on the first page "what if anyone in the world..." describes a problem that not many people have, and I suspect fewer have identified. You're targeting content creators, but, it is unclear if you are a) hosting the content b)helping me monetize it c)tracking content usage d) all/some of that? I suggest you break it up into specific answers to those questions.

2. is this really like an "open source DRM"? As in, this can be used to track the hashes of digital content across other platforms to track who reads them, where they get viewed etc? I don't think so, but I can't quite tell.

3. why bother with tokens? it is far from clear what purpose they will serve? Gamification? use for payments? Tokens with economic value have exchange problems, consider whether it's really worth that, or do you just want to have transaction blocks that keep track of content?

My advice: consider whether the system you've build could work for a more limited use case like Enterprise Content Management, or provide an authoritative content/governance layer on top of one company's content. Can you manage versioning? Access control / retrieval? Or really just pointers? if pointers is all, then can you offer a way to integrated many different datasources, into a single way to deduplicate/manage/report on individual content items across an enterprise?


1. That's good feedback though to be clear this portal is specifically for developers/engineers not creators. The spec available at lbry.tech/spec should provide answers to those questions.

2. Depends on what you mean by DRM. It's DRM-like in the sense that LBRY can provide proof-of-purchase of digital content. It's not DRM-like in the sense that our focus is not on providing you with crippled versions of a digital media file.

3. A public blockchain does not work without tokens. We believe the idea of a shared registry of information (digital content) that exists in the world that is not owned or controlled by a single party is an extremely powerful and beneficial idea. It's why the company is called LBRY, in fact.

Your advice is useful in that it tells us we have more work to do in our introduction of this technology, but what you advise is not what we are trying to do. The central goal of LBRY is to provide a globally accessible, robust listing of digital content that anyone can contribute to but that no one party controls. We are considering extending it to support additional datasources. De-duplication can be done but only if the duplication is non-malicious.


Ok - that makes some sense. In that context, can you answer the question about why, as a developer I would use your platform/tech instead of creating my own, then? If I read it correctly in your response and your about page, this allows developers to use your blockchain to create applications that need a backend like you describe.

So, you are asking whether this is an idea worth spending millions of dollars on. So far, my sense is no, because I have not yet seen any indication that you've got a way to be paid to do this? if you plan to charge developers to use the platform, that would make sense. If you plan on taking transaction fees from the network and that requires working with an exchange to sell tokens for dollars, then that doesn't. So far, I think there is little evidence that anyone wants to transact any business in a cryptocurrency, at least at the consumer level. If it becomes clearer how you will spend millions of dollars to make millions of dollars, that might make everything sound better.


#3 is an extremely important point that most people just gloss over when looking at blockchain use cases. A blockchain should only be used if immutability is essential. If immutability is essential people will pay a premium for that service. Thus a token becomes necessary because it is the tool which users interact with the immutable ledger while simultaneously the tool that creates the profit incentives for nodes to secure the chain.


Yes, that is true, but, remember that financial/profit incentives are not the same as economic incentives. Profit incentives tend to be necessary when the work needs to be done, but the utility of doing that work is not symmetric. I.e. mining on the bitcoin blockchain provides me no utility, but is needed to generate transaction blocks, and so the tokens provide me a financial incentive to mine. However, if I just buy a bitcoin, I have a speculative financial investment if the value of bitcoins goes up and that is my only purpose in holding them. If I plan to actually transact in bitcoins, then owning a bitcoin gives me an economic benefit: the ability to transact with it.

If the financial incentive of this blockchain is to create tokens that are meant to generate either financial incentives for nodes/miners and the tokens themselves are held as equity, then that's fine, but, those tokens don't seem to be a huge financial incentive right now. The alternative is that this blockchain offers economic incentives for developers because it solves problems in a useful and functional way. if it is useful and functional then it is not clear that it needs a separate financial motivator, and it is also not clear that having a financial motivator that has a value susceptible to speculative investment is even a good thing.

In short, why add a financial motivator if there can be an economic motivator? We do not expect separate financial motivators to use mySQL. In fact, I'd say a lot of the benefits of open source are that there are only economic/utility based motivators and not financial ones.


Depends on what/why you need verification and if you want financial incentives. Forgive me for not taking the time to read into your product deeply. Sounds like you want a distributed DB. The blockchain part assumes you want shared verification via work and give people a reason to stay around and keep it shared. Blockchains just seem to be the distributed DB du jour these days to solve consensus. So I'd say sure, you can use a blockchain as your distributed DB, or you can use another distributed DB (if you can find a decent one) and add simple author verification. But no reason to automatically assume blockchain is the best distributed DB for your use case unless financials are at the core of the product. Hell, for "millions" you could just pin a bunch of data to IPFS signed by the authors.

Discovery/search is a whole other problem that blockchains don't help with either, and is not really an easily decentralized problem in current tech.


Hey, thanks for the comments! We don't think it's a matter of verification / financial incentives for the blockchain use case, but instead, it's the censorship-resistant, permissionless, and spam prevention factors that count. If we had a centralized database, we could potentially limit access or overwrite records.

As far as discovery goes, we've developed a product that helps with exactly this problem - it's called Chainquery. It digests all the metadata from the blockchain into SQL tables that can be easily queried. Check it out at https://github.com/lbryio/chainquery/


There is an element of URL ownership involved. It's not just a matter of finding and serving up video content; LBRY allows you to post that content at a specific URL. The ownership of that URL needs to be publicly verifiable.


Discovery is definitely hard. We've created https://github.com/lbryio/chainquery which parses the blockchain and pumps it into a SQL db for better searching.

So that part is still centralized, but anyone who creates an app on LBRY can use this and create their own discovery/search flows.

Also see u/CountPrimes answer.


Can you explain what your product does without using the word blockchain?


LBRY uses a database, that everyone has access to, to store metadata related to digital content and provide pointers to a more traditional decentralized P2P network like BitTorrent. The blockchain also provides publisher identities, human-friendly URLs (e.g. lbry://@MinutePhysics/magnetic-levitation), and a payment mechanism.

This decentralized db allows anyone to access the data without relying on one source.


As a legally protected property, ownership of IP is not usually contested. Why shouldn't a single organization control writes and publish an open database?


Can you rephrase the question, I'm not exactly sure what you are asking - why should, or shouldn't?


Okay, so for a use case like The Pirate Bay, which is a popular database of magnet links and related metadata (Description, who added to the database, when added, etc). Users search this data in various ways.

Can you explain how the same would be implemented on your system? As in, how would a user search it or find popular torrents? What would the components be and how would they fit together?

Obviously the vast majority of users (> 99.9%) will never consider running their own node, they won't need to store data on chain, they only want to read it, and they will not pay anything in order to do so.

How would your solution be better than doing it with an existing system such as EOS? It also provides publisher identities, human friendly account names, and a payment mechanism. In addition it also supports smart contracts or dapps or whatever you want to call them, which could be used to facilitate moderation.

edit: BTW, I like your demo


>Okay, so for a use case like The Pirate Bay, which is a popular database of magnet links and related metadata (Description, who added to the database, when added, etc). Users search this data in various ways.

The problem with this search index is that it requires all of the .torrent files containing the metadata. In lbry this metadata (as well as more rich fields) are stored to the blockchain, so any full blockchain node has the information to provide more sophisticated searches. Chainquery is what runs a full node and provides the search engine for the UI (https://github.com/lbryio/chainquery).

>As in, how would a user search it or find popular torrents?

As indicated above, if they're using the UI it provides a search engine via chainquery. Torrents are also not a currently supported source type for a download, however there is nothing to stop it from being added.


Hey, thanks for the question! Give our app a try and I think you'll answer some of these questions for yourself: https://lbry.io/get - it uses an SPV wallet, so no need to host blockchain data.

There is very basic (to be improved soon!) search functionality in the app - it searches through lbry:// urls and content metadata from publishes. Any type of data can be published to lbry, including videos, images, pdfs, and more!

In terms of how it compares to EOS, I'm not sure, but our tech is specifically designed to content publishing, disovery and monetization. It also includes publisher identities and a payment mechanism in LBC.


I installed the client and searched. Did the results come from the blockchain directly as seen by my client or did they come from a HTTP request to a server you run?


They went through a search server we own that runs chainquery. https://github.com/lbryio/chainquery

It parses the blockchain and syncs it with a SQL db. Anyone can run their own search server and adjust it as they see fit.


Right, so nothing stops you from altering the search results at will, which is the most critical part of the system in my opinion.

Why bother with a blockchain then? Instead of letting content creators be tipped in bitcoins or something, is there any reason other than getting to be the issuer of the coin?

Or will some future development make search decentralized?


All the code for our search engine is open source https://github.com/lbryio/lighthouse

You could also run your own search server if you don't want to use that one.

But that is only part of discovery. Another is built into the protocol. I can navigate to `lbry://bitconnect`, to see what has been published at that url. There is no way to spoof this part since it happens at the protocol layer.

Also if your interested, https://spee.ch/bitconnect. Spee.ch is a web wrapper for the lbry:// protocol. `spee.ch/url` will serve the same file as `lbry://url` (but is limited by different file types. There are more viewers in the app like a 3d file viewer.)


Can I see lbry://@SomebodyUnpopular without talking to the centralized search? If so that's very good as that person couldn't be deplatformed.

Anyway, great job offering working and usable software. Way better than 99.999% of blockchain projects which offer nothing but empty promises.


Yep. The lbry urls are handled by the protocol, there is no way for a company to block someone from accessing that channel.

I could outbid that person so that the short url is directed to my channel, but that person will always have a url at lbry://@SomebodyUnpopular#xyz123...


thanks for the feedback! Shoot us your LBC address at hello@lbry.io and we'll get some extra credits over to you for testing :)


>Right, so nothing stops you from altering the search results at will, which is the most critical part of the system in my opinion.

You don't use the search server to perform resolution of claims, the search engine gives names that you then look up yourself. The resolve operations are provided by the SPV server, it cannot falsify results sent the the client as the client validates everything it gets (if the claim is winning this includes a proof that it is winning at the current block height). The server (like other SPV servers) could in some cases omit records/return false negatives, but it cannot alter them.

The SPV server is also open source and you can configure lbrynet to use whichever server you want, you don't need to use the default operated by us.


Since the mention of P2P traffic comes up, can you maybe mention the differences are between what you want to achieve and a P2P network with a payment system included into it? I'm honestly just curious...

My first and ongoing thought reading here was: "this sounds they want to build a P2P service like Bittorrent". Tje only difference is that you seem to want to include a payment mechanism into it.

Different note: how do you plan to verify original ownership of material? So of I upload copyrighted material of content, does that allow me to get paid for someome else's work? And if the original content creator uploads the same material, how do plan on validating originality of the content?


>"provide pointers to a more traditional decentralized P2P network like BitTorrent"

What does this statement mean, links to IPFS? trackers to bittorrent?


The metadata stored in the blockchain contains a hash to the header blob of data for the stream. Peers for this header and later data blobs are found on the lbry DHT. Once peers are found the blobs are downloaded over a tcp based protocol.


My first question is always the same: what problem is the Blockchain solving for your business that cannot be solved using another technology?


One of the major things that blockchain solves is URL ownership. LBRY is trying to build a censorship resistant video service. The blockchain backbone allows public proofs of URL ownership and that specific content came from a specific URL -- it's like SSL without the central server or the chain of trust.


What stops an evil squatter from claiming URL's that do not belong to them?


I had similar idea, but wanted to do it anonymously. I saw a lot of problems with that idea and have given up. So, you stated:

LBRY uses a blockchain to store metadata related to digital content and provide pointers to a more traditional decentralized P2P network like BitTorrent. The blockchain also provides publisher identities, human-friendly URLs (e.g. lbry://@MinutePhysics/magnetic-levitation), and a payment mechanism.

My questions would be:

- Why blockchain and not something else? I had similar idea in mind a while ago, wanted to "revolutionises" piracy My intention was to use BigchainDB for metadata, anonymise version of IPFS for actual storage, make each movie an ERC721 and attach ERC20 to all as rewards method for people who keep files up. There would be only donations, not really a price for watch / download. I still think that it's overcomplicated and that there's no need for it. Especially those days when you can watch on netflix/itunes/amazon/hulu/youtube... for some small amount. None wanna bother with torrents when he can pay $10 and watch whatever he wanna watch.

- Why published identity? I guess that idea is that all content is actually legal and there are no pirate movies / tv shows? Even so, how will you control what someone share? You can get into a lot of trouble for doing this?

- Payment mechanism for legal and original content is great, but again, how will you control who and what is uploaded? First of all legal movie distributers will not use it because content will end up in P2P, they don't wanna do that and wanna distribute through platforms from where they can get a constant revenue stream. If someone upload illegal content (the one that they don't really own) how will you check that?

- There's also a problem with content like child pornography. How are you going to prevent upload of those? You can't really watch everything that's uploaded?

Conclusion: I see only big problems and not real value here. This can be also easily accomplished with simple database? Token mechanics, as reward system is also questionable. Who will give liquidity for those tokens?


- Why blockchain and not something else?

I'm not aware of any other system can provide the permissionless and censorship-resistant aspects of blockchain while still maintaining a coherent, single view of the network, though I admit I'm only loosely familiar with BigchainDB.

- Why published identity? I guess that idea is that all content is actually legal and there are no pirate movies / tv shows?

It's possible to publish anonymously if that is your preference. Even using an "identity" you can be anonymous, they're just cryptographically provable pseudonyms.

Open protocols do not have a legal obligation to perform censorship at the protocol level, only users of the protocol must censor (see HTTP, BitTorrent, etc.).

- How will you control who and what is uploaded? ...legal movie distributers will not use it because content will end up in P2P...

We don't. Currently over 750,000 pieces of content are available on LBRY and to our knowledge only a little over 100 are infringing.

We do receive and process DMCA takedown requests and provide a service that lists content that is illegal to access in the United States. Official applications that we release respect this endpoint, but it's not even legally clear that we have to do this (e.g. uTorrent could do the same, but does not).

Additionally, LBRY already has one Hollywood studio making films available. You can watch a James Franco film (Howl) or a David Cross film (It's a Disaster). All existing attempts to restrict re-distribution of digital content do not work and there are strong theoretical reasons to believe they never will. Hopefully more studios will eventually be as enlightened as Oscilloscope.

- There's also a problem with content like child pornography. How are you going to prevent upload of those?

This is essentially already answered above. You can read a bit more here: https://lbry.io/what#combatting-the-ugly


Thanks for your answers! About this one:

"I'm not aware of any other system can provide the permissionless and censorship-resistant aspects of blockchain while still maintaining a coherent, single view of the network, though I admit I'm only loosely familiar with BigchainDB."

Maybe you also wanna look at Google Trillian? https://github.com/google/trillian


My impression after reading your answers in this thread - you're trying really hard to come up with a use case for blockchain. You didn't start with the goal to create a good publishing platform and naturally get to blockchain as the best solution. And this shows in your product, on your website and in the language you use here.

And this is obviously speculation, but I really don't think your product will be used by any significant number of people. They just won't have a good enough reason to.


Agree, it's always best to go from problem to solution. I have only seen a few examples of this in blockchain, and most are not using permissionless systems.


You asked HN about the blockchain in 2019. The answer will reflexively be that you are doing something wrong.

I think LBRY is exploring one of the more promising use-cases for blockchains, which is users selling their original content to each other.

My suspicion is that some combination of scaling+ux improvements to core blockchain tech + some kind of interop with the growing fediverse + some catalyst mistake from big tech, and we'll see a big migration.


Thanks for the feedback, we're definitely working on UX improvements and scaling issues... when the catalyst hits, we'll be ready. If you use the app, it would be great to hear from you with more feedback!


Walk me through the process. Lets assume I made a film.

1) where does the film get uploaded to?

2) how do I get $$ out of this process so I can pay rent?

3) how do you pay your investors back?


I'm gonna describe a very simplified version of the process.

1) The film is post to the LBRY network in two steps: a) The film is broken up into chunks. the chunks are announced on a Bittorrent-like DHT (part of the LBRY protocol). b) A hash of the file is included in a transaction on the blockchain. the transaction also includes some information about the film itself (e.g. name, description, trailer, etc), and information on how to pay for the film (address and price). we call this the "metadata".

2) When someone goes to download the film, their client sends LBC (the blockchain token) to the address in the metadata. You can trade the LBC for Bitcoin, and then sell the Bitcoin for $$$.

3) If LBRY is successful and a lot of people want to use it, demand for LBC will increase and its price on exchanges will go up. LBRY can then turn the LBC we hold into dollars. We've been documenting how we use our LBC here: https://lbry.io/credit-reports


4) how can you retract the film, should the necessity arise?


You can `abandon` your claim. https://spec.lbry.io/#claim-operations

This removes it and gives back your deposit for staking a lbry url.


How do you stop people selling, for example, child pornography on this?


Also, as horrible as it is, the post right below this one is titled: On YouTube, a Network of Paedophiles Is Hiding in Plain Sight

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19209314

It's hard to prevent entirely, even if you fully control the network.


Yes but the fear would be a point at which someone asks you to remove the stuff and you say "well technically we can't" and they start looking for reasons to put you jail. Even if you're losing the game of whackamole, you at least need to be seen whacking moles.


We can remove data from our official apps (or at least hide it). We do this for dmca requests.

But if someone is hosting it, anyone can access it through the command line, or if they take our app code and remove a couple lines.

Another way to look at it is, `http` isn't responsible for preventing illegal content to be shared, `lbry` is the same.


Hey, thanks for the great question! That's a really tough problem to solve completely at the protocol layer but we also hope that making a public entry on a blockchain might deter this type of use-case. In terms of how LBRY would deal with it, check out our FAQ at https://lbry.io/faq/content


More importantly, how do you remove it from an immutable, public database once it does occur?


What prevents someone from stealing my content, modifying one byte and then uploading back to the network as their own?


Or... What if @root_axis has not uploaded their content to LBRY yet, and I post it to LBRY first? How does @root_axis claim their proper money?


A related company that uses the blockchain in an interesting way for DRM (which I have my own views on) that was in the same Cape Town startup program as my startup: https://custostech.com/


What are your views on DRM? We think it's a really tough problem to solve - especially once the data is decrypted, the cat is out of the bag!


This is reverse logic.

Normal logic is: First you have a problem, then you look for a solution. If blockchain comes out as a best solution, then it might be the best solution.

Most blockchain use cases reverse logic: We have a blockchain, so lets find problem that we can solve with blockchain.

This is a cognitive bias.


- Why would content creators choose to use this service over youtube or twitch?

- And why would users choose it over the other platforms?

- And if they did, how would the experience be different for each party?


Content creators would benefit from lbry if they want to share files other than videos (, don't want to worry about being deplatformed, or want full control of their data.

Users may want to use it if they want to support their favorite creators without going through someone else. If they choose to support their favorite creators with micropayments or subscriptions, no one gets to take a cut off the top.

Ideally, it would allow creators to earn more money, and allow users to give more support to their favorite creators.


Creators who create PG13 content or R content are on a precipitous edge on YouTube, and all the major platforms, as those platforms/companies are beholden to the ad buyers.

Users who want to get their favorite PG13/R content should be able to without worrying about a channel being shut down - a minority use case for the time, but one that is growing.

As for the use case differentiator, besides what was described above, the ideal end goal is that the things people enjoy about platforms will be in place and function, without the controlling middlemen changing the rules on everyone all the time.


Producers would use this service over others to ensure that the content that they sell is not tampered with, not censored, not edited, not removed by someone else. They would use this service to be sure that their content got to the consumer in its pure form.

Consumers would use it for the same purpose: they use it to ensure that the content they are viewing is exactly what the producer intended. Consumers would also use the service to acquire content that has been wrongly-suppressed elsewhere.


What kind of content creators do you imagine needing this?

Real talk, nobody at YouTube is editing your uploaded videos.

Since you need to own a website to publish, can't you just put a bittorrent magnet link on there? Or IPFS or other flavor-of-the-month.

I'm struggling to imagine your blockchain not being largely composed of pirated movies, child porn, and Nazis. Everyone else is served well-enough by easier alternatives.


Users get censored and demonetized all the time. Recently they also started messing (as a small test) with changing the thumbnails that users chose after they published a video.

It is not viable to create a business on YouTube. In one day, it could be gone.


What's the point in having your own coin? Why not use Bitcoin rather than reinventing the wheel?


LBRY was commenced a while back -- back when having your own coin was a cool thing to do. LBRY also uses non-standard transactions to purchase and build their URL tree. (LBRY allows you to acquire a named channel to host your content, similar to Youtube.)

In addition, Bitcoin at the time was plagued with performance concerns and high fees. If your vision is to serve and support content to millions per day, you want freedom to address the performance needs of the system.

I do think you could build a similar system on bitcoin; your wallet server could build the necessary indexes. You would need to do some interesting P2SH work to construct the channel hierarchy.


We use the blockchain to store metadata about content that's published to the network. We could not do that on Bitcoin (well, we could do it with OP_RETURN but that's considered bad practice).

In addition, having our own chain means we can tune it to meet our specific use case. What Bitcoin wants and what we want are not the same, so solving both problems the same way is probably not right.


How big is this company that they have a PR team consisting of 4 accounts here?


We employ about 20 people full time - check out our team page at https://lbry.io/team. There are a few folks not listed there, we'll be updating that soon.

We aren't all part of the PR team, we have various roles across the company like CEO, CTO, developers, engineers, and quality assurance

I work on the desktop app. https://github.com/lbryio/lbry-desktop


So basically Tribler, but without the privacy part?


I haven't seen Tribler before, this looks pretty neat.

Another difference is the ability to make money off your own content. You can upload a file and charge some amount users have to pay before downloading it.


LBRY sounds like some kind of combination of cryptocurrency and P2P file sharing. Notably, cryptocurrency has been used as a money payment system by criminals, and P2P file sharing has been used as a content distribution platform for illegal content like child pornography. I know that this may come as a shock to some who are deep into the cryptocurrency rabbit hole, but common sense dictates that combining these two technologies in an irresponsible way can and will get you into trouble with the law.

I don't think that you have clearly answered how LBRY would or even could address this problem. Worse still, you have admitted in writing that "The LBRY protocol is fully decentralized and censorship-resistant ... infringing content may be stored on our servers, by the uploader and by anyone else who may have downloaded it." [1] I understand that you plan to have some kind of censorship, but you cannot realistically monitor all of the data in your network. YouTube has resources to monitor what people are uploading to their content platform, you do not and you will have a hard time proving to the law that you did. Even if could you do this monitoring effectively, your product is designed and advertised to be "censorship-resistant."

Walk me through this ... you find child porn on LBRY and you "censor" it in your "app," but you know that LBRY is censorship-resistant, and you know that the child porn is still out there, you even know which IP addressed might have it. What would you do then? At that point, you should get a lawyer. A lawyer would likely encourage you to contact law enforcement authorities, after taking your money. Either that, or you do nothing until the FBI knocks on your door.

It appears that the FBI might not be the only three-letter agency you could be dealing with. You mentioned that you "banked millions in the cryptocurrency boom" and you provided a link to a page on your website which provides "Quarterly Reports" which imitate the Investor Relations web page of a publicly traded corporation. [2] Your "Q2 2016" report states that, "Depending on fundraising over the next 3 months, we may entertain private placements via structures that align with the long-term interest in LBRY and minimize market impact." [3] The "Q4 2018" report has statements like "118,635 operational credits were used for the LBRY employee LBC purchase program." [4] In other places you refer to your organization as "LBRY Inc." It is conceivable that the SEC could take an interest in this as well, after they hear from their pals at the FBI.

[1] https://tinyurl.com/y5l7kpc7 [2] https://tinyurl.com/y2utrfn3 [3] https://tinyurl.com/y4kuww83 [4] https://tinyurl.com/y4e4dnqd


First off, thank you for taking the time to share your concerns. I'm from the founding team and work on compliance a lot.

In all fairness, starting off with 'crypto and p2p are used by criminals' as the context was a bit unfair. There are many more people doing good things with both technologies vs bad things. We are the good guys. We are basically software engineers.

In response to your specific concerns, I'd like to reassure you that LBRY works closely with our legal counsel Perkins Coie on several fronts. One of those is illegal content, of which CP would be categorized. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides fairly well established guidance for operators of networks such as ours. https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230

That being said, of course we dont want nor will tolerate this type of content and report each and every instance to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - including IP and/or any data we have in the specific situation. We would not hesitate to report to local or state law enforcment if we had information that was relevant. Fortunately at this time we have had very few things to report.

With regard to your financial concerns - LBRY maintains the stance that we are a pure play utility token. We never had an ICO, have never made statements about future prospects or returns from our tokens, and do not encourage purchase of tokens except for use on the platform. We have put in a considerable amount of legal work in this regard too, and have had extensive discussions with many parties. While every single crypto company currently has regulatory uncertainty, we believe we have possibly the best facts of any utility token and stand behind them.


The nature of open protocols and standards is that they can be used to do illegal things. HTTP is regularly used for illegal activity. This does not make HTTP bad.

I agree that what we're doing is at a legal frontier. Existing laws like CDA and DMCA are not set up to handle blockchain. That's why we've worked closely with lawyers from the very beginning. While we don't publicly share the advice we've received from our retained council (Perkins Coie), you're welcome to look at this memo drafted by the pro bono Cardozo law clinic on our behalf:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2oudj04lCTJOFZ5V1g5dG9tR2N...

Finally, LBRY is both a protocol and a corporation, just like BitTorrent is. We try to say LBRY Inc. when referring to the corporation and when simply saying LBRY is ambiguous.




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