Blockchain – it’s almost impossible to have a conversation today without the word popping up. Well, it’s either blockchain or bitcoin, but bitcoin uses blockchain technology which brings us back to square one. In this post, we break down blockchain technology and illustrate its role in the protection of creative work.
What is blockchain technology and how does it work?
(We’re no tech-geeks but we’re going to give it our best shot to explain it)
Blockchain technology is a safe and tamper-free technology that records transactions and communicates information in an encrypted form. Let’s simplify this mumbo-jumbo even further – as its name indicates, blockchain is a chain of blocks where each block contains information. To access block X, a person must have the code of block X and of her or his own block. This process continues and in turn creates a chain.
In order to prevent the manipulation of data, blockchain technology functions on a decentralised and peer-to-peer (P2P) network, i.e. one person does not have the supreme power to control the access to information, and transactions are successful only through a collaborative effort.
The first notable use of blockchain technology was in the mining and exchange of bitcoin for other currencies, products, and services. However, the use of blockchain technology has expanded and is now used for banking transactions, tax returns, contracts, personal identification…
…wait! Can it also be used to protect creative work like music and photos?
Absolutely! While it is still relatively new, blockchain technology can, in fact, be used to protect a song or photograph, and even create and use its own cryptocurrency (there are cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin).
Here are a few scenarios where blockchain technology has been used to protect copyrightable, creative content:
Imogen Heap and Tiny Human
Imogen Heap is a pioneer when it comes to using blockchain to protect music. In 2016, she released her album, Tiny Human, through Ethereum’s public blockchain. In addition to this, Imogen Heap firmly believes that through this technology, artists can release their tracks by themselves, check the number of times and the places where their song has been played, gain more control over pricing, and use smart contracts to ensure they get paid directly and immediately.
DJ Deadly Buda and Musicoin
DJ Deadly Buda has adopted blockchain technology to pay 15 artists contributing to his DJ mix, Rock the Blockchain. Every time this mix is played on Musicoin (a platform with its own cryptocurrency and smart contracts), the contributing artists get paid instantly.
KODAKCoin and KODAKOne
In a recent report, Kodak announced that it will be introducing its own cryptocurrency, KODAKCoin, which will not only ensure that photographers get paid on time, but also to protect their IP rights. Through its new platform, KOKAKOne, Kodak will use blockchain technology to maintain a record of the owners of every photograph, and payment to photographers for the use of their photographs will be made through the KODAKCoin cryptocurrency.
The rising popularity of blockchain technology doesn’t find itself restricted to any particular industry or group with rave parties using the technology to spread details about a party i.e. crypto-raves, and online databases issuing certificates of authenticity and provenance of artwork through the same kind of technology as well.
These are just some examples of the use of blockchain technology across creative industries and its future impact. Smart contracts have also become increasingly popular but we’ll save our thoughts on that for another post.