Innovation and creativity have always been the force that drives economic growth. Artists, businessmen, developers, or even farmers exercise creativity to excel at their jobs and stand out from competition. In the new economy, this is even more crucial. Machines are getting better, faster and cheaper at doing repetitive mundane jobs. People now have more time and opportunities than ever before to utilize their intuition and creative intelligence. Consequently, the question of protecting and promoting creativity in this new era is an important one to address.
Copyright — The current protection mechanism of creativity
Intellectual right management is not just about managing ownership. If reflects the complex relationship between creators, distributors, consumers, and even government bodies. Effective right management comes with great financial implications and has inarguably advanced the economy. When it comes to creativity field, copyright is now the standard intellectual property protection.
Copyright protects the original works of authorship in literature, musical, artistic, architecture, computer software, and other creative works. It does not include the protection of facts, ideas, methods and plans that are not fully expressed. Copyright is automatically granted when an artwork is created. However, a public record is frequently required to prove the validity of the copyright. With legal systems in place; however, it is still a huge global challenge technically and financially to protect copyright. This results in either limited dissemination of the artwork, in order to tighten protection; or tolerating unrightfully use and piracy. With new advances in technology, there must be innovative methods to solve these issues with copyright management.
Blockchain — A feasible solution?
Blockchain is the new kid on the block of emerging techs. World Economic Forum predicts 10% of global GDP would be stored on blockchains by 2025. The technology creates a new infrastructure that allow information to be stored in decentralized databases. Once a new set of data, or a ‘block’ is written, it becomes an inedible and transparent record that is shared across the network. Ethereum, a blockchain network that provides the tools to store data in forms of smart contracts, opens door to decentralized applications (Dapps) that has hitherto been impossible. Think electronic voting, digitally recorded assets or trustless crowdfunding. Creative industry can likewise benefit from blockchain. There are start-ups already coming up with blockchain solution to track the distribution footprint of digital media, combating piracy issues.
Nevertheless, there are inherent challenges of blockchain that need to be addressed before it can be fully deployed to protect copyrights. At the moment, it is not straight-forward for creators to build and store their work on blockchain. Should the artwork itself, or just the access key, be stored on blockchain? As the transaction price is still relatively high, version control of the artwork, when frequent changes and edits are required, would also be a pain. Lastly, building blockchain and smart contracts is still a skill hard to come by, not only among creatives but also among software developers. It will take some time before blockchain can fully serve the creative field.
Pioneers — Some of those who take actions
Meanwhile, the pioneers of blockchain, such as Custos, Decentraland or Cubego, are moving the frontier to bring blockchain closer to creatives. Custos, as mentioned, fights the piracy war. Decentraland secure a highly successful ICO for allowing people to collaboratively build a virtual world, and fully own their virtual creation. Set to be released in a few weeks, Cubego is a game in which users can build their completely unique characters from raw materials (the Cubegoes) and bring them to combat with others’.
Cubego creates a seamless environment for players to express and protect their creativity on blockchain, addressing one of identified challenges. With the same underlying decentralized infrastructure, Cubego grants players the full ownership of their creations. Every character (Cubegon) that is created by player is unique, comes with a copyright owned by player and protected by Cubego smart contracts. No one, even the game developers and distributors, can interfere with this right. Furthermore, every player has the exclusive right to build variants from her original model. When there is demand, player can sell this original model and transfer the copyright with one simple transaction.
These are just a few teasers of how blockchain can open up the door to next generation copyright management. For now, stay tune for more innovations!
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