Newsworthy — “Mediachain is Using Blockchain to Create a Global Rights Database” (CoinDesk)
We’ve been discussing on this blog the potential for blockchain technology to transform registries of IP rights. As we’ve said, it is easier to create viable registries to record and track ownership information for new works arising on digital platforms in the first instance, than it is for works already in existence. In the latter case, one problem is: Who verifies the information being recorded? For instance, if I want to record the creation and ownership of a piece of artwork created by Andy Warhol, who verifies that my information is correct?
In an article today on CoinDesk, Pete Rizzo details the work of the startup Mine, which has launched a project called Mediachain. Mediachain is described as a “metadata protocol that allows digital creators to attach information to their creative works, timestamp that data to the bitcoin blockchain and store it with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), a distributed file system incorporating aspects of blockchain technology.” In other words, a blockchain-based registry of information about creative works (and information only — the Mediachain project at present would not include digital copies of the works themselves).
Mediachain is starting with images, and interestingly the article indicates that the founders may be interested in leveraging open data sets from public institutions such as museums and libraries to demonstrate the power of its platform. The founders recognize the problem of trusting the information that is originally recorded, but plan to incorporate a Wikipedia-like reputation system to control that trust issue, at least in part.
For some use cases and some creative works — especially those in the public domain — such a reputation system may provide the necessary check on bad information and outright fraud. In other cases, the underlying information about ownership may be unknown to the public altogether, and no reputation-based system can fix that. In particular, more robust systems for verification likely will be needed for systems that facilitate the transfer of ownership, where parties are relying on the information to make licensing and purchasing decisions.