We Stand on Guard: Copyright Protection through Blockchain

$2.7 bn in workers’ earnings is lost each year due to online piracy

Protecting copyrights is a touchy subject for any creator. Anyone trying to earn her living through art worries about her works being stolen, pirated, shared on torrents, or worse — sold without her knowledge. In a digital world it is far too easy to steal any object simply by copying it. How can we prevent thieves from using stolen content for their own purposes?

For instance, in order to start using an app or a game, a user has to pass a verification test to prove that the product has truly been purchased by the user. This practice has been adopted by Steam, iTunes and some others.

However, copyright issues are rather new for 3D models and the tools for preventing misuse are underdeveloped. Monitoring 3D databases for copyright issues is possible via the system of user reports, which helps to detect some cases of unauthorized use of content, but cannot prevent violation of copyrights completely.

Cappasity is looking to make certain all community members are equally respected, whether they are platform and tool suppliers, content makers, or content consumers. Our solution is based on the principles of a decentralized economy and implements blockchain technology which is able to address the copyright challenge. To prevent the infringement of copyrights the hashes of all files on the Cappasity platform are listed in blockchain and cannot be altered. On top of that, we will grant consumers two types of licenses: the first only for commercial use with access to the file via link, and the second granting rights for extended use with direct access to the file.

The data is recorded into a smart contract, thus allowing for the enumeration of content moderation procedures, user ratings, terms of license agreements between content makers and distributors, and far more. The full list of data recorded by the smart contract includes content hash, content authors, buyers and owners, license types (rebate, fixed price, etc.), payment types, territories where the license is valid, content usage permission (rights to use for commercial purposes or to edit the content), expiration date of content provision, and users who reported or upvoted the content.

If a consumer is granted a commercial license, i.e. he rents 3D content, he is provided with a link which does not allow downloading. That is projected to solve the problem of usage control. Of course, after purchasing 3D content, an unscrupulous person might decide to upload the same content to the marketplace again to generate sales or rent. To prevent such copyright abuse, when the content is uploaded, an author-content hash is recorded into the blockchain. Thus the content cannot be sold twice as its hash is registered to the original creator. Even if a person finds a way to trick the system somehow and upload the content in the marketplace again, any revenue will go to the original author, as it is his address recorded in the blockchain.

When the right for commercial use (i.e. for rebate) of the content is transferred, the smart contract verifies all license agreements related to the content.

In regard to the extended license, it provides a user with direct access to the file, so that he can edit or implement it at his discretion. In this case, another issue must be addressed: when the smallest change is introduced to a file, its hash changes beyond recognition. In a nutshell, a single different pixel on the image gives the model a totally new hash. It can then be uploaded to the marketplace again without any trouble. However, moderation procedures can help to prevent this. Each user can report particular content for copyright abuse. As soon as the number of complaints reaches a certain limit (which depends on the number of upvotes), the content is verified by moderators. These are a small group of people selected by the Cappasity team. Moderators can be either employed or chosen from top community members. It is up to them to decide what to do with the reported content. If it is proven to abuse copyrights and therefore deleted, all users who have reported the content receive compensation and a higher rebate rate. For example, initially a user receives 90% of the cost, but if he successfully and eagerly reports bad content, his share goes up to 95%.

Cappasity’s aim is to provide a safe and secure approach to 3D content exchange, so that every member of the community feels empowered and respected. Blockchain implementation is destined to disrupt the industry, by providing an unparalleled solution to the challenge of copyright infringement.