Creative blockchain protects design, architecture & fashion copyright

October 01, 2018
Chris Wheal

Copyright is a hot topic for the creative industries. And blockchain is being touted as way of policing the problem. In the age of the internet, the creative work of individuals and firms runs a greater risk of being copied and stolen instantaneously.  That has to stop.

The likes of photographers, writers, musicians, film producers, designers and architects are all at risk of copyright infringement through the internet.

Blockchain could help those working in a variety of creative industries, from fashion and architecture to design. As images can be downloaded, uploaded, shared and licensed quickly online, theft is omnipresent. A digital ledger detailing the true ownership of work, along with transaction history, could be the ideal solution.

copyright infringement

The likes of photographers, writers, musicians, film producers, designers and architects are all at risk of copyright infringement through the internet.

Private keys

Private keys enable blockchain users to prove they are the original sources of content, and with entries on blockchain being timestamped, the technology can provide undeniable proof of both the author and time of creation, facts that will be nigh on impossible for anyone to dispute.

The immutability of blockchain means the record is tamper proof; actors cannot go back retrospectively and somehow alter the digital record.

Unique fingerprints

Binded, formerly known as Blockai, was originally launched in 2016 claiming to be the world’s first blockchain platform dedicated to copyright. Using the Bitcoin blockchain, it focuses on protecting copyrights for photographers.

Co-founded by Nathan Lands, the founder of technology startups such as GameStreamer and Gamify, the company was rebranded in May last year after raising fresh funding of $950,000 from various angel investors.

The company warns that with the rise of automation, the issue of copyright on the web will only loom larger. It says identifying the true owner of a file on the web can already be “incredibly difficult.”

The platform uses what it terms as artificial intelligence to create “unique fingerprints” for copyrighted works, with the aim of protecting the true owners from infringement and ensure “artists get paid”.

Binded began by focusing on using blockchain for the copyrighting of images but eventually wants to expand its service to video, music and “every other type of copyrighted work.”

Artificial intelligence

Those registered with Binded can drop images on its platform to discover whether anyone is using their work without consent, and not paying them for the privilege of doing so.

Through artificial intelligence, Binded searches the web to find matches of users’ works, so those registered can then identify potential copyright violations. Binded claims too many creative artists are simply unaware that their work is being used around the web without them receiving due payment or even recognition.

AI

Through artificial intelligence, Binded searches the web to find matches of users’ works

Artists register their work with Binded, receiving an immutable permanent timestamp on the blockchain as proof of their ownership. This can provide them with a legal basis to take action against those who are using their work, though claims are often settled out of court. US-based users can also register their images with the US Copyright Office in a matter of seconds.

“Binded creates a unique fingerprint of your image. That fingerprint can be used to help verify you have the file without even looking at the image. That means you can use the fingerprint to verify your ownership,” says Nathan Lands, chief executive and co-founder of Binded.

Binded also wants the users of creative works to be able to identify authors more easily and quickly by enabling them to search content registered on its platform. This should therefore be a win-win solution for artists and websites alike.

Blockchain reach

Startups are fast emerging to go even further, putting blockchain technology at the heart of everything creative industries do, solving not just the copyright issue.

Zeepin Chain claimed to have devised the world’s first “creative ecosystem”, catering for players in the fields of art, design, advertising, fashion, graphic design, and architecture.

It claims to offer disruptive blockchain solutions that will shake up the creative industry, which it says is inherently inefficient.

If effective, this could really prove to be a big deal; recent figures suggest the global creative industry is booming, accounting for around $620bn a year in economic activity in the US, $466bn in China and £90bn in the UK.

“The creative industry is undeniably becoming an economic force to be reckoned with. Yet it’s restrained by inefficiencies such as poor copyright protection, scattered distribution, and poor communication between upstream and downstream suppliers,” says Zeepin chief executive Zhu Fei.

Based on the NEO blockchain, the Zeepin platform aims to establish a global, creative community without borders, where for instance, musicians can find venues and publishers can hook up with writers. In common with Binding, it also wants firms to be able to use its platform to recruit the talents of the registered creative users.

The breadth of the Zeepin platform is ambitious, given the variety of creative industries covered by the solution, putting fields as diverse as architecture and fashion on the same platform.

NEO

The Zeepin platform is based on the NEO blockchain.

Its platform will allow members to copyright, authorise, transact, insure and connect, according to Zeepin. Not only does it cater for a wide range of creative fields, but it also offers a spectrum of applications. Users will even be able to use the platform to raise crowdfunds and launch their own projects.

Through the decentralising force of blockchain, Zeepin claims it can make the whole creative industry more efficient. It says all members will have equal access to its ecosystem through the use of its own digital coin, ZPT. Zeepin succeeded in raising over $62m through its token sale in January.

Combating piracy

Blockchain platform Typerium also launched this year focused on combating piracy in the creative industry. While focusing on protecting the copyright of content creators, as with Binded and Zeepin it also aims to help users sell their creative services.

Of course, as Typerium points out, financial transactions through the blockchain using a digital coin are much faster than conventional payment methods. Efficiency is therefore boosted in the way users can protect and promote their work, but also in the way in which they are remunerated. Typerium uses its own digital token, TYPE, to power its ecosystem.

Typerium stands out as it has been developing design software that will allow creators to produce “high-quality visual content” that can be used on any platform, and instantaneously publish it.  In addition, Typerium has also been developing a social media network for creatives.

piracy

Typerium focuses on combating piracy

Effective solution

Blockchain can offer an effective solution to the problem of copyright for the creative industries. However, as some of the latest blockchain startups have shown, it can go much further than that, building on a licensing and copyright framework to offer those in the creative industries all manner of routes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their propositions.

It’s early days for blockchain and the creative industries, though there is clearly huge potential, even if only a relatively small percentage of global activity in this area switches to blockchain platforms.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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