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How Is LBRY different from iTunes, Storj, YouTube, BitTorrent and Others?

Jeremy Kauffman • Oct 11 2016

LBRY is a revolutionary technology that is poised to challenge a remarkable number of businesses – YouTube, Netflix, iTunes, Kindle Store, Audible, Steam, and so on.

Here, we'll try to tackle a few comparisons that have frequently been asked of us.

How is LBRY different from YouTube / Netflix / Apple TV?

YouTube, Netflix, Apple TV, and other similar services are centralized platforms controlled by a single corporate entity. These companies can change the rules unilaterally, as well as censor content to appease authoritarian governments or corporate partners.

LBRY is a decentralized, open-source protocol that is controlled by its users. LBRY facilitates a similar experience to the aforementioned services but does it in a way that is entirely decentralized. LBRY can never unilaterally change the rules on publishers or consumers, making it dramatically trustworthy.

How is LBRY different from IPFS / BitTorrent?

IPFS and BitTorrent are wonderful technologies from which LBRY has drawn a lot of inspiration. However, they both suffer from the same flaws:

  • Lack of discovery. BitTorrent and IPFS provide decentralized ways to access a unique piece of data or information, but they do not provide an overall catalog that lists all of the available data or information to consume.
  • Ugly URLs. BitTorrent only provides access via long, complex magnet URLs. IPFS supports human-friendly naming via IPNS, but this is an after-the-fact hack and does not provide a single, authoritative, user-friendly namespace with the way the LBRY does.
  • Lack of monetization. Neither BitTorrent nor IPFS support payments to publishers for the content or data they create and publish to the network; LBRY does.
  • Incentive problems. BitTorrent and IPFS rely on people being generous with their own resources for data to continue to be available. LBRY creates market incentives for data to be as widespread and available as possible.

Yes, there are attempts to add this via a layer on top, but LBRY bakes it in.

How is LBRY different from MaidSafe / Storj?

Maidsafe and Storj are attempting to be decentralized platforms that enable many uses, rather than a decentralized protocol designed to serve a singular purpose.

LBRY is designed to do one thing and only one thing well: the discovery, access, and (optionally) purchase of digital content.

By being designed from the ground up for a highly specific purpose, LBRY can both deliver better performance and move faster than attempts to create a similar system on top of other decentralized platforms. All three ventures are in an early stage, so it is an open question which will achieve mainstream adoption.

How is LBRY different from Decent / SingularDTV / Alexandria?

The first and biggest difference is that LBRY exists and has significant traction. As of this writing, Alexandria is the only one of these to release a client to the public, and there hasn't been much progress since that release.

It's difficult to compare LBRY to something that doesn't exist yet, but as we understand it, no alternative is providing a human-friendly namespace and discovery mechanisms like LBRY.

Additionally, LBRY is the only one of these three to see significant backing outside of the cryptocurrency niche. While we love crypto, we're aiming to be a mainstream, household technology. To that extent, the fact that LBRY has backing from major VCs, tech companies, and Hollywood studios says a lot.

Finally, unlike almost every blockchain company, we've never sold coins to the public. We've put ourselves in a position where the only way we make money is if LBRY is a long-term success. To us, having "skin in the game" is a moral imperative.

How is LBRY different from a toaster?

Toasters transfer heat via radiative EM waves in the infrared spectrum to brown bread and make people happy.

LBRY transfers data via EM waves in the infrared spectrum* to deliver content and make people happy.

LBRY is also brave and little. So we're basically, fundamentally the same as a toaster.

Assumes fiber-optic transmission.

Learn More: Read the Full FAQ

Photo of Jeremy Kauffman
Jeremy Kauffman · · ·

Jeremy knows how to build and scale a startup starting from day one. He knows how to deliver usable products and get those products in front of the right people.

Jeremy created LBRY because he fell in love with the idea of shared, global content registry that is owned and controlled by no one. Unsurprisingly, he is a longtime supporter of decentralized technology and freedom of information.

Prior to LBRY, Jeremy founded TopScore, a startup that processes millions of dollars monthly in event and activity registrations. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he received degrees in physics and computer science.