The idea for this project actually started around 2005/06 when we were considering developing our own digital currency solution called D-Net, (which stood for Device Network). We were then taking an artificial neural network approach to try to solve many of the issues that we considered problematic on the internet. Conducting financial transactions on a peer to peer network seemed like one such challenge. However, it became clear that large transactions would always be a ‘hacking target’ (we were wrong, we didn’t consider a blockchain approach, although we came relatively close) but that micro-transactions had an inbuilt safety mechanism, in that a system could be designed where the size of each transaction would just not be worth the trouble to hack. So, we started to focus on the best use of micro transactions, and it seemed obvious to us that the ever present problem of the unrestricted file-sharing of copyright material was a problem worth looking at.
The agenda would be simple, create an ‘independent digital music market’ where the only files traded would be those files where the rights were owned by independent musicians, bands and song writers. Then the next challenge would be to work out a way to ‘monetize the exchange of digital data’ in a file sharing system. This again was not so difficult. However, what was difficult at that time was to conceive of a reliable digital currency that could be used that would allow users to convert their earnings back into dollars, (or whatever fiat currency they desired). This in fact was the hardest problem, but it wasn’t a problem of technical complexity, but rather a problem of integration with other 3rd party systems. At the time, it was clear that conventional Banks would not be interested in facilitating such a system. We did look for a time at Hong Kong’s Octopus Card which was a non-Bank Government backed transport card system that had become diversified over time and was being used a cash surrogate (in place of cash) throughout HK. However, again we did not think it was realistic that the HK Government would want to partner with an Independent Digital Music Market, so we put the plan for this project on the back burner.
The diagram above is completely unchanged since 2006. We just went on with other things because a digital currency trading system that could be used for micro transactions and relatively easily turned back into other currencies was not at that time available. However, over the last couple of year we had been watching the progress of Bitcoin and in April 2013 it was clear that something dramatic had happened in terms of Bitcoin starting to achieve wider acceptance and it became obvious, that whether it was going to be Bitcoin, or Litecoin or whatever other digital currency, that something profound had started to happen and things would never be the same again. So, it was time to pull out that project and start to engineer a system to change the equation in the ongoing stalemate that is P2P file sharing.