Blockchain can be easily associated with benefits offered to finance, insurance, supply chain but it is rarely perceived alongside copyrights. Yet, this is another industry that will be positively disrupted by the technology especially given what is happening in the media with fake news and social network hacks.
Blockchain’s main purpose is to help businesses become more efficient with faster processes, in a secure environment where all you need is trust in algorithms. However, how could it prevent social media hacking, fake news, and provide a platform to protect digital copyrights, in a censorship-resistant environment?
Let’s find out.
As misuse of copyrighted work is the main issue in authorship, blockchain technology can help to make the fraud instantly detectable and thus deterring people from misuse. The current system doesn’t provide enough assistance to victims of theft, especially when they’re up against a large and powerful group. Furthermore, it’s mostly focused on resolving the ownership in disputes after a misuse has been uncovered. Blockchain helps resolve the issue beforehand with automated and early detection of the fraud, thus saving time and lots of money wasted in the investigation.
Companies like Block.co use the blockchain to timestamp and create a permanent record of writers and artists’ work, and provide them with a time-stamped copyright certificate. The site’s users have profiles that enable them to file and organize all their safe and immutable certificates. Once uploaded, clients’ work can be tracked down online and an alert gets triggered if there is any unauthorized usage. It helps to detect the infringing content although it’s still necessary to rely on legal means to remove it.
Except for deterrence, blockchain can do little to prevent copyright infringement. Yet, it remains a great tool to use in the aftermath of the fraud because it offers an ideal immutable platform to store ownership claims without a central authority to censor, take down or potentially tamper with original work.
“Proof of ownership is necessary, on one hand, to ensure buyers do not purchase digital items from fake copyright holders and on the other hand, to protect the copyright holders from unauthorized reselling of their digital works.” Block.co.
Cyprus-based Block.co offers a blockchain solution that is currently used to protect copyrights, and was recently presented during the Bloomen Ideathon. It represents an exemplary model of technology in use to combat fake news and protect media copyrights through a simple and quick process implemented on the blockchain.
In the upcoming months, the topic will be of particular relevance in light of the legislative changes in blockchain matters, expected this year on the island. The new legislative scenario was discussed during the last of Block.co’s webcasts ‘Blockchain for the private sector’, hosted by International business and technology lawyer Christiana Aristidou, who has worked with Block.co for several years now.
“We are proud to have integrated the Block.co certificate-issuing solution for the business needs of our clients. We consider the Block.co solution indispensable towards our objective of constantly enhancing the provision of our legal services through innovative technological solutions. The protection of copyright and other relevant intellectual property rights now involves a simple, fast, automated, and cost-efficient, blockchain-backed certificate issuance.”
“As a hybrid law-tech firm — continues Christiana — our partnership with Block.co has proven to be exceptional and valuable in our journey towards digital transformation. Using blockchain, thereby ensuring a transparent, immutable, secure, time-stamped, and tamper-proof recording of data, the Block.co solution offers a revolutionary and innovative means to protect our clients’ intellectual property, instead of other time-consuming and costly traditional processes.”
“Specifically, our clients’ data and evidence supporting their authorship, invention, or creation of any property that warrants copyright protection, may now be recorded in a digital document, which is then verified in a trusted and time-stamped manner on a blockchain. Our clients retain ownership and control of their data, having been granted easy access to a self-verifiable blockchain-secured certificate of such data.”
The latest good news is that the data stored on the blockchain immutable ledger could be enough to prove copyright infringement. The case of China’s TikTok and Baidu is so far the best example of copyrights fraud taken and proven in court thanks to the immutable evidence timestamped in the blockchain. Let’s see what happened. Last year, Baidu built an application similar to TikTok, called Huopai; it stole one of the videos originally uploaded on TikTok and even went as far as enabling free downloads of it. The company sued the Chinese version of Google for copyright infringement and demanded substantial compensation. TikTok had their data stored on the blockchain immutable ledger that could prove the history of downloads and the copying event. For the first time, copyrights and blockchain were the winning match in a court case and will surely set a precedent in many cases to come. Blockchain decentralized service will also play a fundamental role in video authenticity verification. Indeed, it can impartially guarantee the authenticity of user-generated video content and protect it from forgery and unfair editing through a reference to a specific time of the recording and its authenticity, which we know cannot be tampered with on a blockchain.
PROVER platform is built on the Ethereum blockchain and offers a solution to provide video authenticity verification and make a serious impact on the industry so that changing the date on recordings or artificially altering a video, become a memory of the past.
Another application for blockchains will likely be a registry of ownership. In music, for example, finding information about songs and compositions happens to be a rather hard task since the data is distributed across over 5000 databases. It can be, therefore, very difficult to trace the ownership chain for copyrighted works. Blockchains appear especially well suited for the task due to the transparency attribute of a timestamped and immutable ledger that allows secure, reliable, and permanent records to be found and dealt with quickly and in a cost-effective way, which was unthinkable only up until a few years ago.
Can blockchain have an impact on the halting circulation of fake news, and how?
Fake news is typically information that is not backed up by any fact, but it’s well presented as evidence and quickly circulated on social media, radio, TV, etc. It is occurring more frequently and in a more damaging way than ever and, especially in the Covid-19 era when our health is at stake, it can become a concern. Since nobody has the time to track back the full history of the news source, it’s easy for fraudulent information to gain ground quickly and extensively. This is the main reason why people fall for fake news so easily, except for other psychological mechanisms, of course.
On that account, reaching out for the authenticity of the information has become a crucial matter. We finally have a tool that allows us to verify where the news has come from and who created it. Easily traceable and transparent blockchains expose the source of the information and its authenticity, favoring a more secure and reliable news industry overall because the content can be produced, stored, and distributed in an immutable way.
Other than combating fraudulent and fake news, blockchain can be a remedy for unpaid copyrighted work. By using the private ledger, companies can better track user interaction with content thus quantifying users’ worth to the network, and how they should be compensated for their activity.
Just like any other innovation, blockchain development is constantly evolving even though there’s a lot of work yet to do to make it scalable and more efficient. Remember the Internet at the beginning? It was clunky, slow, technically troublesome.
Same with blockchain. Storing images on the digital ledger is a massive challenge for the development investments of the future. At the moment, the tech can only store text-based data, comparable to the text-only web 1.0 stage of the internet. Scalability is one of the main issues for blockchain and one that is haunting developers mostly, but once progress is made in the area we might see an increasingly more robust blockchain that will function like web 2.0.
Companies are already competing to be first in developing the technology that will make copyrights on the blockchain easy and feasible. Kodak is one of the leading firms in the photography space that is investing in the technology and developing a platform that will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers, to register both new and old work that they can then license within the platform. This will allow faster payments for professional images, quick detection of image usage infringement, retrieval of all lost revenues from the unlicensed use of their images. By using the platform, image owners can actually see where and what their images are being used for, and then get appropriate compensation through a simplified legal proceeding.
The legal impact of blockchain is not clearly defined yet.
We’ve gone through the TikTok issue earlier as the first case in a court that involved and validated the blockchain proposal in copyrights infringement. Yet, it’s still not entirely clear what technical standards blockchain technologies must meet to produce the legal effects of electronic time validation in any sector, not only copyrights. A lawsuit to push judges to rule on the effectiveness of blockchain certification might be a necessary step taken to progress quickly in this direction.
In 2017, China established the Hangzhou Internet Court to tackle copyright infringement in Internet-based cases, showing evidence once again that the country is a pioneer in applying technology innovation. By ruling that the use of blockchain technology to authenticate presented evidence would be allowed, the Hangzhou Internet Court paved the way for the world’s first-ever blockchain-enabled evidence accepted by a court. Other countries are following suit and it might just be a question of time before blockchain is officially accepted as evidence in court cases globally.
In conclusion, blockchain is ready to make an impact in the copyrights industry on the basis that a solution for infringement, fake news, and unpaid copyrighted work was long due. In the digital era, no industry can afford to stay behind in technological progress.
Media and copyrights are no exception with clients and users of the different solutions available seemingly positively embracing the technology, as referenced by Christiana with regards to the experience of her clients:
“Our clients have been remarkably welcoming and enthusiastic about Block.co’s solution, as an easy, fast, and cost-efficient tool in the protection of their copyright, and other relevant intellectual property.
As experienced lawyers in intellectual property law, we have the first-hand experience of the significant efficiency gains associated with using Block.co’s solution compared to existing paper-reliant, costly, and more complicated means of copyright protection.
Intellectual property is only one of the areas that may benefit from the use of Block.co’s solution. Block.co can potentially transform the management, storing, and recording of our internal and clients’ records.”
Christiana Aristodou’s testimonial could not explain Block.co’s work better, and if you would like to know more feel free to get in touch!
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