When we first read White Rabbit years ago, we first dismissed it as yet another attempt to voluntarily charge hackers for the content they consume.
We have seen a few of these services come and go over the years. They all failed due to a lack of support from content creators and hackers.
The fact that White Rabbit first garnered interest from the press during the “ICO craze” of 2018 didn’t help either. At the time, there was an overload of creative blockchain ideas that raised millions of dollars. Most of them no longer exist today.
White Rabbit’s coin offering hasn’t gone particularly well either, but the project is far from over. The company has reinvented itself, and in recent weeks the service has been quietly launched in the UK, France and Norway, with several movie companies and “unidentified” pirate sites as partners.
Launch of White Rabbit in Cannes
This process has not been easy. The company needed to earn the trust of key players in the film industry, who typically stay away from anything related to piracy. However, the team persisted and during a presentation at the Cannes Film Festival this year there was a lot of interest.
We also listened to this presentation and were quite surprised by what we saw. The White Rabbit browser extension had become one of the most convenient search engines for pirated movies. Better than any hacker tool we know of. Too good perhaps?
During the presentation in Cannes, the White Rabbit team showed that after installing the Chrome extension, people can search for any movie. The extension then displays a list of official sources and pirated alternatives. By clicking on the “pirate” option, you directly access an unauthorized streaming service.
Live pirate streaming at a film festival
This live demo led to a slightly unusual situation in which films such as Disney’s “Luca” were being streamed from a pirate site at one of the most prestigious film festivals. The income potential soon became evident, however. After about 30 seconds, a pop-up window appeared, asking whether or not the user wanted to pay for that movie.
The expansion officially launched a few weeks ago, and at the time, that process was still in place. However, when we tried White Rabbit again this week things had changed.
Pay to pirate blockbusters?
The expansion still offers “access” to a wide range of movies, including the latest blockbusters, but the pirate links only appear after make a payment. If people go directly to one of the “supported” pirate sites, they will be alerted with the usual pop-up window.
Finding a movie through the extension is quite easy. When we searched for âVenom: Let There Be Carnage,â it popped up right away.
Indeed, after paying â¬ 2, we were immediately redirected to a pirate streaming site. In this example, we were linked to 123-movies.as.
The same process also works for other movies, including Netflix, Amazon, HBO, and Disney exclusives. Instead of paying a subscription to these legal streaming platforms, you can just pay â¬ 2 and enjoy it on a pirate site.
TorrentFreak spoke with White Rabbit CEO Alan R. Milligan, who informed us that this is not how the extension is supposed to work. Films still in theaters or exclusive to a platform are intended to be redirected to official channels.
âWhen users search for these movies, they are redirected to the movie on the official streaming platform or to the theater to purchase a ticket. The majority of films however are non-exclusive films where the income of this filmmaker and producer is critical for them to continue making films, âsaid Milligan.
Indeed, when we search “Seaspiracy”, we are redirected to Netflix. However, it is clear that White Rabbit needs to improve things on the backend to get rid of the mistakes that we have spotted.
An example of a purposefully available non-exclusive movie is Dune, which can also be ‘bought’ for â¬ 2. It sounds good, but there could be complications. White Rabbit has partnered with some copyright holders in regions where it is available (UK, France, Norway), but not all are on board yet.
This means that despite the payment, you are not allowed to stream the content. Likewise, White Rabbit himself walks in dangerous waters by acting as a paid gateway against piracy, despite his good intentions.
The CEO of White Rabbit, who has worked as a film producer himself in the past, tells us he is aware of this problem. He realizes that not all of the major studios will immediately join us, but he clarified that the company has no plans to take advantage of other people’s content.
If someone pays money for a movie that is not connected to any of White Rabbit’s existing partners, that income will be held in a secure account to be claimed at a later date. If the rights holder does not wish, the money will be returned to the user who paid for it.
Support from the EU and filmmakers
While the major Hollywood players might have reservations, White Rabbit also has a lot of support. The project is supported by the EU and several filmmakers, who see it as income-generating potential.
âWhite Rabbit and its investors, including the EU and film producers, believe that P2P + blockchain is the opportunity to secure technological independence through decentralized distribution, secure ownership of data, and direct payments from fans to artists, âMilligan tells us.
âWith technology, we can enable anyone and anyone to become a streaming platform. White Rabbit’s content recognition combined with ownership verification and blockchain transactions turns this opportunity into reality.
Milligan and his team aren’t the only ones who see pirate sites as potential partners. Several players in the film industry have joined forces with White Rabbit to explore this new business model.
Hackers as an opportunity
This includes Bertrand Faivre of The Bureau Films, who believes it can help generate income from people who otherwise wouldn’t pay.
“We see the White Rabbit model as a good opportunity to try to shake things up on the piracy front and the problem it solves for us is that it clearly distinguishes customers who are willing to show our movies at a price. just … and thieves. , Faivre tells us.
This vision is shared by financier and film producer Ian Sharp, who also sees it as a way to break free from the major streaming platforms, which don’t always offer the best licensing deals for movies.
âWhite Rabbit is an opportunity for the film industry to become independent from the tech giants. Platforms are a thing of the past. Viral distribution is the future, âSharp tells us.
âWhite Rabbit allows direct distribution to fans and they pay us directly for what they watch. This removes the gatekeepers for fans and filmmakers and ensures diversity of content and access for everyone. Nothing better. “
The blockchain connection
People who use White Rabbit won’t notice it, but White Rabbit is built around a blockchain. It is not necessary to pay with cryptocurrencies. Behind the scenes, however, movie payouts are broken down into blockchain entries.
These public transactions add transparency and make it clear how much money is going to rights holders, White Rabbit, and potential pirate sites that are teaming up with the company.
Ultimately, White Rabbit hopes to develop this blockchain distribution model even further, so that everyone who has contributed to a movie, including actors and hairdressers, can be paid directly.
This last element has not yet been developed, but the opportunity is there. Ultimately, White Rabbit envisions a future where pirate sites and filmmakers join forces. Where they can all benefit too.
Whether this will work remains to be seen. We see quite a few legal hurdles and setbacks from the major players in the film industry. At the same time, hackers must also be prepared to pay. However, these problems don’t stop Milligan and the rest of the team.
Integration of pirate sites
Behind the scenes, we negotiate partnerships with various pirate sites. White Rabbit was not yet willing to name any, but the company sees pirate sites as allies in the “fight” against major streaming platforms and invites them to join us.
âWe are at a historic turning point in the relationship between the film industry and pirate sites. We have a common cause: to reduce the dominance of Tech Giant – and on more than just streaming, âMilligan tells us.
âAs such, I invite all hacking sites to join the professionalization of the P2P streaming space – to become players in the film industry,â he adds.
For those who want to try it out, White Rabbit is available in the Chrome store. Due to outdated licensing issues, the extension can only be used in UK, Norway and France at this time.
White Rabbit does not currently indicate which movies are officially licensed and which are not, so it’s always wise to proceed with caution.