Mintme News


Blockchain and copyright protection for artists.

Feb 5, 2020

“Blockchain development in regards to this issue is encouraging and constitutes a step toward efficient protection of copyrighted content in the digital world”.

Copyright has always been in a tight relationship with the massive adoption of the internet. Whether we look at peer-to-peer file-sharing services for digital audio files or the use of images and photographs on the web, copyrights have not been regularly respected and for an artist who is starting or that wants to be able to receive the proper retribution for his original work, this is not a light matter. Even before the internet Copyright protection and enforcement were difficult and now it seems that it has become worst, from a copyright holder’s perspective, we all deemed copyrights as downright, ignored and under attack. Consistent with this ignorance of the law, unauthorized sharing and the use of copyrighted content has remained a significant problem. Then we wonder, can this problem finally find its aid with the use of blockchain technology and smart contracts? Can tokens help improve copyright protection?

What is copyright?

Copyright is an intellectual property right attributed to the skill and labor of an individual in the creation and expression of an original idea. It protects the original expression of information and ideas. And most importantly it protects your right to receive income out of selling it or sharing it within your command and free choice.

The copyright protection falls over original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship in the realms of literary works; musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes, and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works fall under the copyright protection.

When you own a copyright it means that you have the right to reproduce the copyrighted work in any way you want; through any media, like paper or audio, prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; distribute copies of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending, all of It as you choose. As copyright owner you can sell, license, rent, lease, etc., the copyrighted product or idea to anyone you choose; you can make as many copies as you like and share it by any means you like, sounds powerful don’t you think?

How to obtain a copyright?

In countries like in Australia, a copyright notice with the owner’s name and date is not necessary, but for other countries, you may have to prove your ownership of the copyright to fully obtain it. A copyright notice is a note printed on a copyrighted work; it usually includes the © symbol, the date on which the work was created and the creator’s name. A copyright notice can act as a deterrent to potential infringers even though we now that sometimes we need more than that. But the truth is that a copyright is something that should and it is yours since the moment you created something new and pasted or impressed it in any form of expression even if you find it hard to demonstrate it. This is why, being able to preserve is so important, who does not want to choose what to do with their creations, right?

The problem

Despite this legal protection and the technological efforts that have been made, most mechanisms are often circumvented and result in meager protection that hackers can bypass not only once but over and over again before the copyrighted content is left unprotected there is nothing to stop them from being stolen.

In the artistic world, the internet meant a tremendous way for artists to spread their work worldwide and gain in notoriety. But it has become an environment very much in favor of piracy, an environment that makes possible the transmission of unlawful high-quality copies of protected works to millions of individuals worldwide in a single click, so artists have the right to be afraid of sharing anything at all. To give right holders a way to control the distribution of their work and to measure content usage, digital technologies have been developed with the goal to both protect the storage and distribution of digital content and protect the interest of consumers.

The solution

The solution that sparked most interest is the use of blockchain technology. This new technology, by allowing to embody copyrighted works in a secure, time-stamped and immutable chain of information, can make these works unalterable and their further uses very easy to control by the copyright owner, as every usage of specific content will be recorded in the chain. This newly developed system can help you manage rights-related information of written works, or even images and audio in the future, with features for demonstrating the date and time that electronic data was created, and identifying works that have been recorded previously, allowing participants to share and verify when a piece of electronic data was created and by whom it was created. In other words, blockchain would offer a very effective way to prove ownership and to trace the utilization of copyrighted work online.

How does it work?

Blockchain offers a solution based on the principle of decentralization: there is no dependence on the particular provider and the terms of use can be embedded in the code, changes to which would require a consensus among a majority of users. Within the Blockchain each digital copy of the copyrighted work is the same and cannot be distinguished from another by their quality. Blockchain allows a scope to individualize each digital copy of a copyrighted work. It may be done employing a hash function. Cryptographic hash functions are optimized to generate a unique hash with a low probability for collisions. Therefore, a hash function can be used to self-issue new and unique identifiers for each copy. The functionality of the relevant blockchain-based copyright management services may allow assignment of separate license terms to each copy: giving each one of them modified rights following the election of the creator. Such a system may be more trustworthy and viable from a long-term perspective.

A block is a unique number, derived mathematically through computing, an author or other right owners may obtain a unique digest of their copyrighted work, just as a fingerprint This number is applied for single-use as the root identifier for a digital work of any sort that is completely unique. Once established as the root identifier or hash, any changes to the digital work are written into the blockchain, then distributed through a network to all the parties participating in this block, at each of those locations where they can see the applicable updated information. This is the reason why blockchains are categorized as “distributed digital ledgers,” such that the entire transaction history of any item provided with a blockchain is, in theory, always updated and available to inspection to all of the participants in the network.

Hash function forms the basis of the security and immutability of the blockchain. Two digests can be the same only if the initial data is the same: minor differences will lead to a different hash amount. Such hash will distinguish one copyrighted work from another. If there is some transaction with a copyrighted work a hash of such work is included in the transaction and once it becomes verified following the blockchain protocol, the transaction becomes timestamped and the content of the transaction becomes encoded on a blockchain. As a result, information about copyright ownership and its subsequent changes with relevant timing is integrated on a blockchain and cannot be forged. Thus, records about ownership of a copyrighted work may be immutably reflected in the blockchain database, and therefore easily verifiable by any interested person.

For example: images can be uploaded to a blockchain to provide not only authentication for ownership, but a means to police unauthorized use. How does it work? When an image uploaded on a certain blockchain, a cryptographic hash is created for each copyright record that contains the image file as well as the copyright owner’s name and email. By uploading a batch, a secure chain of immutable records is created. With a digital fingerprint at its fingertips, copyright owners can then digitally police online sites, including social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

Another significant characteristic of Blockchain is the ability to timestamp, meaning that when certain events occurs, a sequence of characters or encoded information is created to be easily identifiable, usually giving date and time of day, sometimes accurate to a small fraction of a second. Time-stamping, understood as the process of securely keeping track of the creation and modification time of a document, is a marvelous tool that cannot be left out of the business world since it allows any interested parties to know that the document in question existed at a particular date and time and that it hasn’t be changed or tampered with.


In the pursuit of offering faster payments for those who want to purchase professional images, KODAKOne chose to try the blockchain as the most reliable of the alternatives since they believe it can also help photographers detect infringements quickly and recover the fees they are owed. Its web crawler technology scours millions of websites to detect how pictures are being used and provides “simplified legal proceedings” to ensure copyright owners get the compensation and recognition they deserve.

Blockchain development in regards to this issue is encouraging and constitutes a step toward efficient protection of copyrighted content in the digital world. The prospect of being able to manage who can access our content and where that money should go at the end of the transaction is extremely daunting for existing technologies, but this goal could be achieved through blockchain. Furthermore extended features such as blockchain crowdfunding can allow artist of all kinds fundraise for their artistic activities with the protection of an innovative technology, using digital tokens. I’m most interested in technologies that show promise in bringing more accuracy and efficiency to the worlds of copyright and licensing. Whether the blockchain will perform for the benefit of copyright in practice has yet to be seen, but the prospects remain encouraging indeed.