FOXD Network, a decentralized media streaming and broadcast network, has announced the tandem release of a new decentralized TV app and blockchain platform based on the Foxdcoin. The two will be deeply integrated right from the get-go, and will solve a whole range of problems for content creators the world over.
While the entire platform promises a range of benefits, including efficient, cross-border transfer of media rights and decentralized content distribution, there’s one point that stands out: the way the Foxdcoin platform is addressing some of the biggest problems currently facing the whole crypto/NFT/blockchain ecosystem. In particular, the new platform solves the current tradeoff that blockchains currently face in the balance between verifiability and authenticity, and transaction efficiency/cost.
The implications are wide-reaching and promise to shake up all sorts of blockchain use cases. However, given that it’s being integrated into the TV app, let’s focus on the most obvious one right now — media rights and distribution.
What’s the Big Problem With Blockchain?
Blockchain is heralded as the answer to all sorts of problems surrounding everything from logistics and supply chain security to media rights and distribution management. But it has a severe problem: storing data “on-chain,” which is to say storing data on a blockchain, is really, really, eye-wateringly expensive.
A big part of the problem here is that, in order for blockchains to be anything more than a convoluted centralized database, they need a way to encourage decentralized participation. No participants, no decentralization.
Thus, the way to encourage participation in a blockchain is to reward those who do the work (e.g., transaction processing, or “mining”) with payments for their work.
This is the reason why you always hear about “gas” prices whenever a discussion about NFTs and Ethereum — the current standard for blockchains — comes up. This “gas” is simply the cost of doing business on the blockchain. Think of it like credit card transaction fees merchants pay every time you swipe your card.
But here’s where it gets tricky. Unlike credit card fees which are usually charged as a percentage of the transaction value, Ethereum gas fees are different. They get charged based on the amount of data involved in processing a transaction. This has led to some insane situations where the gas costs of most NFTs now outstrip their intrinsic value.
What’s worse is that, given that gas fees are charged based on the amount of data, not the value of the transaction, most NFT projects opt for “off-chain” storage. That is, the actual asset that the NFT represents is nowhere to be seen on the blockchain. Instead, all that lives on the blockchain is some metadata about it.
What’s Wrong With Off-Chain Asset Storage?
While storing assets off-chain goes some way to solving the exorbitant costs of storing data, it introduces a whole new problem. Namely, it kind of defeats the purpose of blockchains. Let me illustrate with the humorously-named CryptoPoops collection.
If we look at the CryptoPoops contract (here on Etherscan), we can discover the data stored on the Ethereum blockchain for any of the NFTs in the collection. And, as expected, no video or image data is to be found. Instead, we find a little piece of metadata that gives us the URI (the same thing as what we commonly call a URL) where each is stored.
If we follow that URI for, let’s say, token #1, we end up here — yet more metadata that then points to what we’re really interested in: the asset itself. Here’s that URI: https://big-junior-stone-rocketship.fission.app/poops/mystery_box.mp4.
If you look at this URI, you’ll notice that it’s just an ordinary website that’s really no different from the URI for this article. Do you see the problem with that? No?
The big problem with this scheme is that whoever controls the URI (the person who owns the domain name), ultimately controls what the on-chain NFT represents. There’s nothing to stop the owner from replacing the original asset with anything they like, or even taking it down entirely. See the problem now?
Basically, this arrangement makes a mockery of the blockchain as the parts that actually count — the URI and the asset itself — can be changed arbitrarily. Goodbye indelible blockchain.
Enter IPFS: How FOXD Is Solving the Problem
While we’ve all heard about NFTs and blockchain by now, something that’s still flying under the radar a little is the so-called Inter Planetary File System (IPFS). What IPFS does is create a way of storing and sharing files in a decentralized way.
To cut a long story short, IPFS is a little like BitTorrent. In fact, the protocol borrows a few ideas from BitTorrent. But it also comes with quite a few unique twists. Notably, the way it generates links to files.
What sets IPFS apart is that, to generate a URI, IPFS creates a unique signature based on a file’s contents. This is known as a hash, and it provides the network address for where that file can be found.
Now, given that this address is generated based on a file’s contents, what this means is that, if anyone tries to change the file’s contents, the URI changes. See how this starts to solve the NFT problem of privately-controlled domain names and URIs with content that’s subject to change?
What’s more, any given file is always guaranteed to have the same address, no matter who uploads it, when they upload it, or how many times they upload it. What this means is that even if the file is taken offline for some time, anyone with a copy of that file can re-upload it to the exact same, content-determined address. It also means that if multiple people upload the same file, they will simply become replica nodes hosting the same file. In other words, IPFS solves more than just content authenticity — it also helps solve the proof of ownership and durability issues, too.
Foxdcoin Is Integrating IPFS into Its Blockchain Platform
The Foxdcoin announcement makes clear that IPFS will be tightly integrated into its blockchain as the off-chain storage and delivery protocol. This means that content creators can continue to opt for the more efficient use of on-chain metadata for the creation of efficient, low-data tokens. But they also don’t have to sacrifice the benefits of blockchain at the same time. The minted asset will forever be the original asset, so long as someone has a copy of the file somewhere.
This represents a big step forwards in the world of media rights and distribution, which is currently a hodge podge of proprietary, and often costly technologies that are full of problems.
To take one example of where the Foxdcoin blockchain platform shines above existing solutions, take a look at the issues of duplication and fragmentation. This is currently the number one problem facing digital content rights and distribution systems according to leading-provider Verimatrix.
To quote their description of one situation: “In a legacy workflow, a content owner would typically send a mezzanine file to the video operator… At the same time, the same mezzanine file is sent to a neighboring satellite broadcaster… this is multiplied hundreds of times over and amounts to a tremendous waste of time and resource.”
Now, remember the bit about IPFS creating a unique address based on file contents? That means a single file will always refer back to a single point — the IPFS URI. It also means that, instead of managing complicated licensing systems to keep track of which license belongs to which file, we can now just refer back to the on-chain token containing this content-derived URI.
A TV App and Blockchain Platform for All Content Creators
Of course, there’s nothing to stop any of what has been described above from being achieved using existing blockchain platforms. Content creators can, with some time and a whole lot of effort, mint and monetize digital assets with existing tech.
However, the big problem is that it’s convoluted and complicated. Many people simply struggle to figure out how to set up an Ethereum wallet and buy an NFT — attempting to mint one and store it on IPFS is a whole other set of headaches most content creators don’t have time to deal with.
This is why tightly integrated solutions like the Foxdcoin blockchain and its TV App are so sorely needed as we head into the Web3 age. In fact, if Web3 is ever going to become more than a niche, enthusiast thing, the FOXD Network solution is not only welcome but also highly necessary.
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