SA anti-piracy startup Custos Media Technologies raises $265k

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Stellenbosch-based bitcoin bounty startup Custos Media Technologies has raised a second ­round of seed investment of just under ZAR4 million (US$265,000) to allow it to reach out to high-risk media producers.

Custos – founded by staff at Stellenbosch University and based at the LaunchLab – looks to combat digital piracy by embedding bitcoin bounties as watermarks within videos and movies.

These bounties can then be collected by downloaders using a free tool if the media passes out of the control of the intended recipient, allowing media producers to identify pirated versions of their content.

The startup raised an undisclosed funding round from Innovus Technology Transfer, the industry interaction and innovation company of Stellenbosch University, late last year, and has now confirmed a further round of ZAR4 million from a South African private investor and the New York-based Digital Currency Group (DCG).

Custos chief executive officer (CEO) G­-J van Rooyen said the capital will allow the company to reach high-­risk media producers, for whom he said piracy can literally cut tens of millions of dollars from a production budget when a title is leaked.

“We’re thrilled to partner with investors who can really take an active role in helping us reach our target market,” he said.

The funding will also be used to expand the Custos product offering amongst independent movie producers, and take the concept to the larger players in Hollywood. Custos is also testing a solution for protecting e-books.

Barry Silbert, founder and CEO of Digital Currency Group, said his company was excited to see the Custos team developing an innovative application of bitcoin technology to solve a problem that is very costly to content producers.

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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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