Bootleg Boots Up!

An Update to the ConsenSys Web3Studio Bootleg Story

On Monday, May 6, 2019, the first Bootleg token was minted and traded on the Ethereum public mainnet.

The ConsenSys Web3Studio team launched the Bootleg open source community at South by Southwest on March 13, with a concert featuring the up and coming band, outsideOUTSIDE performing a song months ahead of public release.

Attendees were encouraged to shoot footage of the band and submit it for a chance to become the “first-ever bootlegger.” The selected video was taken by Paul Cefaratti, whose Ethereum account is now minted permanently into the performance’s Bootleg token:

What’s a Bootleg?

Oh man…really? You don’t know what bootleg is? You must not be living in the near future with the rest of us, where bootlegging has become a major thing. To get up to speed, read the original bootleg story and check out the new bootleg kit.

We’d show you the video, but here’s the thing: That’s not how bootleg works. The point of bootleg is digital scarcity. Only three people have access to that concert footage — the people who paid to be added to the token’s franchisors list: Joe Lubin, Jesse Grushack and one mystery user who now owns the rights to sell a franchise seat to someone else. If they don’t choose to do so, those three people (plus the band and the bootlegger) are the only ones who will ever see the footage of that evening.

This “live ammo” test of the Bootleg smart contract made real money for the band, which donated 10% to its charity.

The Shared Royalty Non-Fungible Token

Bootleg is made possible by a new token framework called the shared royalty non-fungible token (SRNFT), an extension of the ERC721 of Cryptokitties fame. The framework, expected to be submitted as an Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) shortly, adds a franchisor array, a payments array, a royalty distribution interface, and a way for a franchisor to withdraw the percentage of their cut from payments. (For Ethereum smart contract developers, withdrawal is done cleverly to avoid gas limits that could prevent withdrawals under certain conditions.)

The SRNFT provides an economic incentive to anyone who has purchased access to the video not to leak it to YouTube or some other public platform, because as a franchisor, you didn’t really buy the video. You bought rights to a percentage of all future payments made when you sell it, and then they sell it, and so on…forever. Leak the video, and you potentially harm your future cashflows.

decentralized Off-chain Non-transferability (dONT)

The other key component that makes Bootleg work — still a work in progress and looking for open source contributors — is dONT, a watermarking and encryption scheme that ensures that if you do leak the video file, it can be identified as your print and nobody else’s.

Commercial Interest in Bootleg

Several companies that attended the SXSW event reached out, and at least one music studio is now reportedly in active efforts to use the open source bootleg code to build their own bootleg service. Other organizations are reportedly using the code to develop ventures that do very different things but which rely on the same basic pattern, using the SRNFT or the dONT components to get a leg up on development.

Bootleg Can Be Your Company

This is yet another example of how ConsenSys, the world’s premier blockchain venture studio, is giving back to the Ethereum and Web3 ecosystem, conceiving audacious ideas, articulating them, and then building the foundation of the code to catalyze them into real ventures.

Not only are the codebase and all the ideas behind Bootleg (including the name) completely up for grabs under the most liberal open source license, the leadership of the code repository on GitHub that houses the project is open for anyone to assert leadership of the work and become a maintainer. Contact Web3Studio if you are interested in staking a claim to the Bootleg leadership by serving the community.

What’s Next For Bootleg?

The Web3Studio team is already onto its next audacious project, called SideJam. But fruitful conversations are ongoing with ConsenSys clients, technical entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial developers who aim to build their own ventures on this work.

Maybe you’re next!

Technical entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial developers and makers of all stripes can get involved and help lead any of our open source projects-from-the-near-future at Collect them all and win! ;)