SA bitcoin bounty startup Custos Media Technologies raises funding

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South African startup Custos Media Technologies, which employs bitcoin bounties as a means of cracking down on piracy of various types of digital media, has raised further funding from Innovus Technology Transfer, the industry interaction and innovation company of Stellenbosch University.

Disrupt Africa first caught up with Custos Media Technologies – founded by staff at Stellenbosch University and based at the LaunchLab – in July of last year. The startup embeds bitcoin bounties as watermarks within videos and movies, which can still be watched normally.

However, if the media passes out of the control of the intended recipient – usually a reviewer offered a pre-released version of the movie – there is a small bitcoin reward that can be collected by one downloader using a free tool.

The funding raised from Innovus – which is undisclosed – will be used by Custos to accelerate international client acquisition, according to chief executive officer (CEO) G-J van Rooyen. Its movie piracy detection web service – Screener Copy – is currently in closed beta with commercial clients, with public release slated for later this year.

“Screener Copy was built as a tool to rapidly bring Custos’ technology within reach of thousands of smaller movie studios worldwide,” van Rooyen said.

“We can help our clients protect their content at the very sensitive screener distribution stage prior to box office release.”

The team Custos spent almost a month in Hollywood last year promoting its technology, and plans to convert this interest into a first pilot with a US-based client within the first half of this year.

Anita Nel, CEO of Innovus, said the investment in Custos was a great example of how Innovus wants to grow businesses around the many technologies emanating from Stellenbosch University.

“It is a relevant technology with a solid academic footprint and the team members have entrepreneurial flair and think out of the box. Custos is a role model for other research groups who want to commercialise their work and Innovus is highly committed to support the company,” she said.

The startup is also currently “testing the waters” with e-book distribution with a potential United Kingdom (UK) partner.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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