LBRY Revisited

What is LBRY?

LBRY is a peer-to-peer network. With each user who consumes media through the app also hosting that media for others on the network. As with bit-torrent, users leech from the initial source, then seed the content to their peers. Rather than use .torrent files that need a centralised location to index and distribute them, LBRY distributes this metadata on the LBRY Blockchain, in a manner akin to magnet-links. Once you publish a piece of content, it will remain published and accessible forever. The content will also be available as long as someone, any one, is seeding it.

Why Does This Matter?

This prevents single point of failure censorship of content. A disgraced president can demand a video be removed from the LBRY network, but actually following that order is next to impossible. There is no mechanism for removing the video from the hard drives of the users who have already downloaded it. There is no mechanism for removing it from the previous blocks on the chain. The reference client, created by LBRY Inc and available at adheres to the official protocol specifications and removes abandoned claims for the available content.

But LBRY Inc says …

Yes, LBRY Inc says they are able to Combat the Ugly, or remove illegal or rights-infringing content. Censorship is possible through the official LBRY client. Content can be removed from the search results, or the claim itself could be blacklisted. Either way, this means typing in the address or searching for it won’t display it.

So How Is It Censorship Resistant?

The blacklisted claims still exist in the blockchain.  You can still access these blacklisted claims. Any developer could easily clone the LBRY App, and release their own version. It could use the same blockchain as the official app, but use it’s own search engine, and not have a blacklist. This means they would benefit from the security of the LBRY network’s hashrate and content library too.

So yes, the LBRY App is not 100% decentralised, but the part that is centralised is also easily removed or bypassed, and only exists to improve usability for non-tech-savvy users and to prevent the United States of MegaCorp from suing LBRY Inc. when Mr I-Dont-Care-About-Copyright uploads the latest Star Wars movie.

Other Thoughts

The LBRY name is an apt one. Like a regular library, the content with in it is best discovered by an index. You sit at a desk with a card catalog and search for an author, topic, or story theme, and it tells you where to find it. Like books, multiple content items can have the same name, and it’s the one that is most relevant that would show up first. You could simply browse the shelves until you find something you like as well.

And as with regular libraries, anyone can walk in, and place a book on the shelf, without the librarian knowing about it. It won’t be until they look there that they see it is out of place. Meanwhile, anyone else can come in and look at that book. If a book has been put on the list of forbidden books, all references to it can be removed from the card catalog. You won’t be able to search for it, even if it is still on the shelves, but that won’t stop you finding it if you know where to look.


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