By: Prabhjot Randhawa
If the media industry were to adopt blockchain technology on a large scale, the problems of maintaining and transfering rights would be a thing of the past. Artists could sell digital versions of their work like a physical work and be assured that no one would be able to copy it and repost it for others to take. To put it simply, a blockchain is a database that stores information across a network of computers therefore making that information decentralized. Whereas a centralized system would be dependent on the owner of that centralized system to verify all the details, a decentralized system has no single owner to check for authenticity. With a decentralized system, everyone using it is helping run it as well. For security purposes, it’s almost impossible for anyone to corrupt or hack the system once the data is stored inside the database because it’s scattered all over the world. If you’ve ever heard of Bitcoin, you’ve heard of the first real use of this blockchain technology. Bitcoin is a digital currency that cuts out the middleman (banks) and allows holders to trade value with the authentication of many other people from around the world. However, the blockchain isn’t only for replacing money.
Today, if you digitally buy a song from iTunes or other platforms, you do not own the rights to resell that song because you are essentially just renting it from the label. Artists and labels fear that by downloading a digital version of a song, you can easily copy it, share it with whoever you want, and therefore devalue the original song. Using blockchain technology, it’s quite possible that you’d be able to resell a digital version of a song because there would only exist one digital copy of it (the one sold to you). With every resale, the transaction history of the song would be recorded on the blockchain. Anyone would easily be able to track it back to the original source (the artist) and validate its authenticity. This way, not only would the money go straight to the artist without any middleman, but you’d be able to make money on it as well by selling the song if you decide you do not want to own the song anymore. Companies like Musicoin and Revelator are aiming to disrupt the music industry with this technology by eliminating the middleman and providing payment straight to the artist.
Kodak, the company behind your favorite rolls of film, has announced the release of KodakCoin, a coin dedicated to helping photographers license and distribute their work using the same blockchain technology. With a decentralized system of tracking the whereabouts of a photograph on the internet, Kodak wants to revolutionize digital rights management for photographers. Today, photographers will either post lower resolution or watermarked versions of their work online to minimize their work being stolen. KodakCoin could essentially give photographers an ease of mind with the assurance that they will be fairly compensated if their picture were to be replicated. This sort of rights management system could easily shift the ways movies, television shows, or any digital content is distributed, consumed, and resold. Gone would be the days of stealing content and receiving false copyright claims.
Another coin by the name of RNDR token is using the blockchain technology to allow for faster render times in video editing and 3D rendering. With the use of a RNDR tokens on OTOY’s platform, users would essentially be able to use computers from around the world to complete a render job or even get paid to render something for someone else. This is great news for technologies like Virtual Reality that requires a massive amount of rendering power and for artists who do not have the resources to put together a powerful rendering machine. It’s quite possible that one day someone could create a 3D design on their smartphone and use cloud rendering with blockchain to complete a render job in seconds that would otherwise take them hours.
Because these technologies and the ideas behind them are fairly new and are just starting to be adopted by mainstream companies, there’s going to be a lot of speculation around what is possible and what is not. Most of this article is speculation because although Musicoin, Kodak, and OTOY are paving the way for artists to create more and flourish independently, their efforts don’t mean anything until they can get their ideas running, especially on a large scale. Until then, we can only dream of what’s possible with blockchain.