Civil, the two-year-old crypto startup that wants to save the journalism industry by leveraging the blockchain and cryptoeconomics, has partnered with the 172-year-old Associated Press to help the wire service stop bad actors from stealing its content.
Civil, using its blockchain-enabled licensing mechanism, which is still in development, will help the AP track where its content is going and whether it’s licensed correctly. In exchange, the AP has granted the newsrooms in Civil’s network licenses to its content. Civil, which has raised $5 million from the blockchain venture studio ConsenSys, plans to make the licensing tool available to all the newsrooms in its ecosystem once it’s up and running.
Matthew Iles, the founder and CEO of Civil, told TechCrunch he wants the company to become the new economy for journalism, uprooting the long-standing ad-based revenue model and providing journalists ownership of their content. Beyond that, he wants to reinstate trust and credibility in the journalism industry, which, in an era of “fake news,” has taken a hard hit to its reputation.
“We have a problem now of not even just dealing with literal fake news, but dealing with the social aspects of people not really knowing what to trust anymore because people are throwing around allegations,” Iles told TechCrunch. “We think [Civil] is going to create far better signals for consumers to really know if a news organization is trusting and credible, despite whatever powerful people might be saying.”
The AP-Civil deal has benefits for both sides. For Civil, they’ll get the opportunity to learn the ropes of the licensing business from the premier news wire service, and the AP will get a lesson in blockchain tech, with a goal of determining what kind of impact, if any, the blockchain can really have on journalism. Additionally, as part of the deal, the AP will be proud new owners of Civil’s cryptocurrency, CVL, which will begin selling via its upcoming initial coin offering on September 18.
If all goes well, the AP will rake in more revenue as a result of the partnership and Civil will have a nice use case of its blockchain-enabled licensing tool to show off.
Iles added that Civil has plans to announce a more partnerships in the coming weeks. Just last month, the company announced a deal with Splice, a media company based in Singapore, that has the pair investing $1 million in 100 media projects in Asia over the next three years.
“This project was founded on the idea that the digital media business is and was on a dangerous path,” Iles said. “I was motivated to look at the ways media platforms were constructed. Could we redesign a media platform from the ground up? I thought about it in conventional ways at first, but one of the things I ran into was a strong desire to make this platform decentralized. I had no idea how to do that until I found blockchain technology.”
Civil is among a new generation of blockchain journalism startups that includes Nwzer, Userfeeds, Factmata and Po.et, which was founded by Jarrod Dicker, a former vice president at The Washington Post.