Explainers

Why You Should Ditch Amazon & Use LBRY to Buy Books and Movies

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LBRY is a blockchain-based video streaming service and digital store which acts as an alternative to both YouTube and Amazon. YouTube is the most popular video site in the world, with billions of hours of footage all available at no upfront cost. However, as with all so-called free services, you pay with your data.

Amazon has become one of the largest retailers in the world, but its business practices are often exploitative. If you’d rather leave Amazon and YouTube behind, then you may want to check out LBRY.

What Is LBRY?

LBRY is best known as a blockchain-based digital store, where you can find videos, ebooks, and music. However, the LBRY name is attached to a range of technologies. To provide the digital store, the company (LBRY Inc.) developed the LBRY protocol. The protocol is split into two; the LBRY blockchain, and the LBRYNet content network.

As with other blockchains, there is an associated LBRY coin, known as LBC. Creators can upload their content to LBRYNet, and it’ll be available through the LBRY app. However, to prevent LBRY Inc. from becoming a gatekeeper to all the content, the LBRY protocol is open-source. This allows other developers to view the LBRY protocol so they can build apps to access the LBRYNet content, too.

As the content is stored on LBRYNet, it is distributed between all users, so there is no single entity controlling access. When you open YouTube, you are reliant on Google to provide you with the content. On LBRY, the content is shared across a peer-to-peer network, similar to BitTorrent.

The Problem With Amazon

Amazon building in Santa Clara

wolterke/DepositPhotos

Although it started as an online bookseller, Amazon has gone on to be one of the world’s largest retailers. The company has extended its reach to almost every country, offering practically any product you could imagine. They gained this position by offering convenience at an affordable price. However, this has, famously, meant that Amazon operates at very fine margins, even going so far as to operate at a loss if it means establishing their dominance.

To continue its rapid expansion against this financial backdrop, the company exploits its resources. In recent years, journalists have exposed poor working conditions at many of Amazon’s warehouses. There has also been criticism of the company’s pricing, purposefully undercutting rivals, leaving both online and physical stores unable to compete. This has caused stores around the world to close as a result.

In 2014, Amazon launched its first Echo device, alongside its smart assistant, Alexa. There have been many well-documented cases of Amazon’s overreach into our homes, with the speakers often implicated in privacy breaches, Amazon employees listening to your recordings, and fear over the always-listen nature of the devices.

LBRY Features

LBRY homepage

The LBRY app, which you use to watch videos and purchase other media, is available for most major platforms, including Linux, macOS, and Windows alongside mobile platforms iOS and Android. Then there is LBRY.tv, a feature-limited web edition. The main focus of the LBRY software is on videos. When you first launch the app, it looks very similar to YouTube’s interface.

Recommendations are displayed on the homepage. When you subscribe to topics and creators, their videos will also appear here, too. Unlike most streaming sites, though, when you want to watch a clip, the video will be downloaded to your device, adding you as a peer for that content.

 

LBRY trending page

When a video, ebook, or game is uploaded to the LBRY protocol, the uploader can set whether they require payment, or whether it’ll be available for free. If the content is free, you can choose to tip the creator in LBC. Purchases are also made using the LBRY coin. LBRY’s gaming lineup is still quite limited, but there are other places to buy video games with Bitcoin.

LBRY Inc. has created a 20-year schedule for the creation of LBC, with the ultimate goal of creating one billion LBC. While 60 percent of those tokens will go to users, the rest will be distributed on a fixed basis. The company will claim 10 percent, with a further 10 percent going to charities and partners. To encourage people to join LBRY, 20 percent of LBC will go towards adoption programs and rewards.

Your LBC is kept in a cryptocurrency wallet stored locally on your device. If you lose access to your device or uninstall the app, then the wallet and your LBC will be lost unless you back up the wallet. You can create a manual backup, or enable LBRY Sync. This service allows you to sync your wallet to multiple LBRY installations and means you can recover it, too.

Is LBRY Safe?

LBRY video playback

Although there are many positives to decentralization and platforms like LBRY, centralized organizations can effectively police the network and ensure that it is safe for everyone—in theory. However, YouTube has been subject to intense criticism over the way it handles objectionable content. Some videos are taken down almost immediately, and with very little recourse.

Then there are those who see YouTube’s takedowns as censorship, allowing Google to dictate what is and isn’t permitted on the platform. LBRY aims to strike a balance between the two extremes. Although you can post anything to the LBRY protocol, the LBRY app can block objectionable content. This adds a safeguard to the service, preventing illegal or controversial videos on the service.

However, as the protocol or blockchain is open-source and viewable by anyone, the content can still be accessed, just not through the LBRY app. This safeguards against censorship. So, you shouldn’t worry if LBRY is a scam, as the app and LBRY service is safe to use. Though, it might not be time to drop YouTube entirely; there are some great YouTube channels to learn how to trade crypto.

Will You Switch To LBRY?

While LBRY is a compelling alternative to both Amazon and YouTube, you may still be left wondering why you’d want to make the switch. Sure, at first glance, LBRY may seem like a YouTube-style streaming service, but the beliefs and values that underpin it are a large part of the draw.

Blockchain is often touted as a continuation of the open-source spirit of the early days of the internet before the tech giants came to dominate the landscape. LBRY’s blockchain prevents any single gatekeeper from emerging. The LBC token offers an alternative to today’s ad-based revenue model, allowing users and fans to support creators directly.

Amazon is still one of the best places to find physical products, though. So, if needs must, you’ll want to check out how to spend Bitcoin on Amazon first.

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James Frew
James is a Staff Writer for Blocks Decoded and an Editor for MakeUseOf. He is a proponent of technology; he wants it to be affordable, accessible, and safe for everyone. Through his tech writing, he quickly became aware of the problems that centralization of business and data creates for users. It’s this realization that sparked his interest in decentralized platforms and the blockchain. He is now keenly fascinated in blockchain technologies with a focus on security, privacy, and societal benefit.
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2 Comments

  1. Too damn complicated for me to understand. I’ll stick with amazon.

    1. As with a lot of Dapps and cryptocurrencies, LBRY hasn’t (yet) simplified things enough to make the transition easy for most people. Hopefully this will change soon.

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