Business

Odysee: An Independent, Blockchain-Based YouTube Competitor?

Odysee is a new video-sharing website to regain the independence and freedom of the internet. It was created by the team behind the LBRY (pronounced “library”) blockchain protocol. Since its official launch in December 2020, the website’s user-base has grown sharply, with, at the time of writing, around 30M monthly visits. This is due, in part, to the fact that you can put whatever video content you want online and keep it there without risk of it being removed, as Odysee restricts content based on a handful of community guidelines. So could this less strict, independent platform be a YouTube competitor?

About Odysee and LBRY

LBRY was founded in 2015 by Jeremy Kauffman (CEO), Alex Grintsvayg (CTO), Jimmy Kiselak, Mike Vine, Josh Finer. It is a blockchain-based file-sharing and payment network that powers decentralized platforms, primarily social networks and video platforms, with Odysee being the most popular, and created by the same team.

LBRY, Inc. also created its own cryptocurrency, “LBRY credits” (LBC), which they use as a part of a digital store they have built based on the LBRY blockchain. Using this currency, creators can charge viewers to stream their content or earn tips. The cryptocurrency is an integral part of Odysee.

Odysee is similar to YouTube in many ways. Users can upload videos onto their channels, then viewers can like, or dislike videos, leave comments, and the homepage lists popular topic categories of videos trending on the site. However, where the two websites differ is in their underlying infrastructure.

YouTube is part of the multinational technology company, Google, whereas Odysee is built by the same team behind LBRY.

The Technology

Whilst YouTube videos are stored on Google’s centralised servers, Odysee works like a peer-to-peer data exchange distributed over a network to avoid centralised servers.

Courtesy of Odyssee

The Odysee website sits on top of the LBRY protocol which can be separated into 2 parts.

LBRY Blockchain

The first part is the LBRY blockchain. Blockchain is the innovation behind the Bitcoin network. Like Bitcoin, the LBRY blockchain maintains balances – in this case, LBC (LBRY’s cryptocurrency and unit of credit). More importantly, the LBRY blockchain also provides a decentralized lookup and metadata storage system.

The LBRY blockchain simply maintains LBC balances and a content namespace/catalogue. The next part, LBRYnet, specifies what to do with this data.

The Data Network (LBRYNet)

LBRYNet is the layer that makes the LBRY blockchain useful beyond a simple payment system. It says what to do with the information available in the LBRY blockchain, how to issue payments, how to look up a content identifier, and so on.

Odysee vs Youtube

As previously mentioned, Odysee, unlike YouTube, is not attached to a massive, multinational tech company. Kauffman (CEO of LBRY and Odysee) has said that the platform aims to regain some of the independence and freedom of the internet he grew up with. He thinks that the internet has become very corporate since then, controlled by just a few, massive companies.

“Some would call it [Odysee] an alternative to YouTube, we like to think it’s the successor.”

Jeremy Kauffman (CEO of LBRY and Odysee)

Odysee aims to provide an alternative to the controlled flow of information.

One of the main differentiators between Odysee and YouTube is the content that can be found on the two platforms. Kauffman says that YouTube is far too “Strict” with its content moderation, and instead wants Odysee to be a beacon for freedom of speech.

Odysee restricts content based on just a handful of community guidelines that prohibit things like pornography and content that promotes violence or terrorism.

However, we live in an age where misinformation around important topics can so easily be spread across social media or video-sharing platforms such as Facebook and Youtube. Hence, it can be argued that these big tech companies are justified in labelling this misleading or even false content.

Due to these looser community guidelines, it is very unlikely for videos to be taken down. This has lead to an influx of right-wing and sometimes extremist content finding a new home on the platform, as we’ve seen with other platforms such as Parler or Minds.

Kauffman says that this was not why it was created. Instead, the aim is to have a platform where all voices can be heard.

Although the arrival of right-wing channels is noticeable, Odysee also serves as a sort of backup library for Youtubers. Indeed the platform gives you the ability to easily sync with your YouTube channel, to allow your videos to grow on a second platform, making it quite enticing for current Youtubers.

Monetisation

Another notable feature of Odysee is the income generation model, because it’s built on Blockchain, and uses cryptocurrency. Indeed, Odysee offers three monetisation options:

  1. Earnings per view from us (Rewards based on validated views from users that are signed in and hold validated accounts).
  2. Tips from users.
  3. Site/app promotions.

The plan is to eventually make money from advertising, with creators given full control over how they monetize.

Bottom Line

At first glance, Odysee can appear as a sort of refuge for right-wing and extremist content creators who fear moderation from YouTube. However, it does nonetheless have some great content from creators on the platform, and YouTubers who sync their channels. The premise of an Independent platform, built on innovative technology, is interesting. Whether it evolves into a place for all voices, or simply as a home for extremists, only time will tell.

Scott Hickman

Founder of The Detechtor and host of The Detechtor Podcast | Techy | Politics enthusiast | Musician | Loves coffee ☕️

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