KnownOrigin — can we enhance digital asset ownership?
In one of the previous articles we touched on some of the founding questions we set out to answer covering topics such as ownership, provenance, and authenticity. We believe that these founding questions can be solved with public Blockchains like Ethereum and non-fungible token based Smart Contracts based on the ERC-721. However this is not the end of the story when it comes to our goals and questions which need answering at KnownOrigin.
Along the journey from idea to prototype to deploying the contract to main-net we always wanted to do more to bridge the technical Blockchain space with the arts, ownership and non-Blockchain space.
From this came the idea of being able to allow a user to download a high-resolution digital version of a specific piece of artwork. We love proof-of-ownership on the Blockchain but also believe some people still like to hang nice things on their walls.
We plan to only allow downloads with the artists consent and to naturally restrict to the digital asset owners (after purchase). This does also not make copyright and licensing defunct but as with regular art purchases - users must still adhere to the legals.
We propose the following question:
“Can we further enhance digital asset ownership by allowing high resolution downloads of Blockchain backed assets?”
This raises some interesting points, firstly how would we be able to permit this in a secure and trusted way, ideally utilising Blockchain technology to our advantage? Secondly, what impact would this have on ownership of assets? Lastly, is this even a thing, do people expect or want this? Lets dig into each of the questions before making a conclusion.
How do we go about allowing trusted high-resolution digital asset downloads?
For this we can utilise the power of Ethereum and a wonderful feature we expect to become hugely more important in the ecosystem which is verifiable off-chain digital signatures. This means we can use the inherent public-private key cryptography to verify that the sender of a message is the person who they say they are. We can then check the KnownOrigin Smart Contract to verify that the person owns the requested asset to be downloaded.
We don’t need to know the users private key, only the public Ethereum address along with a signed data which only they can sign locally using MetaMask or any other web3 enabled browser such as TrustWallet.
The signer of the message must be the current owner of the digital asset, if not we will reject the request and not supply the high resolution download. Finally the beauty of this is that these transactions are off-chain and free for the end-user but also secure and cryptographically signed.
Along with this we have looked into adding digital fingerprints and embedding metadata into images before downloading but unfortunately at the moment there is no real failsafe way to keep an image safe once it lands on someones laptop or phone. What is great is that true ownership and provenance will be maintained within the Smart Contract on the public Ethereum Blockchain.
What is the impact of allowing high-resolution downloads of digital assets?
This is an unknown, we believe we are the first to offer this. What we hope for is that those who purchase digital assets from KnownOrigin can have the pleasure of owning a collectable, scarce and beautiful piece of digital art which they can not only collect, digitally display or re-sell, but also allows them to convert this into something more physical.
For example, you may want to print it out and place on the a wall, print it on a mug or t-shirt. Innovative services for collectables are being envisaged such as CryptoGoods.co that allow your cryptokitty to be printed on a hoodie, why not place your amazing piece of digital artwork on your wall. One day we can envisage a whole ecosystem of services for non-fungible assets.
Some have said this could potentially encouraging fraud but we believe this won’t be the case. There are millions of copies of the Mona Lisa online but only one original, its hard to duplicate the real version. With digital assets you can utilise Blockchain technology to validate ownership and originality of a piece of digital artwork. Someone could send the high-res version to friends or list it on pirate bay but this will not mean provenance of the digital asset has been lost as they have not passed ownership of the ERC-721 asset. Also doing these actions may not be in the best interest of the original asset holder - why would they risk devaluing their asset?
What is the demand for allowing high-resolution downloads?
This is also very difficult to tell, we have spoken to several community members, to various people inside and outside the crypto and Blockchain space and most seem to like the idea, citing that this would “complete the circle” and allow them to “do more” with any digitally owned assets.
Fundamentally like many things going on in the space it is an experiment and an hypothesis which are going to test. When we enable this feature it will be for a small, select number of items on the KnownOrigin marketplace. With this we can then gauge usage of such a feature along with engaging the community and the artists for feedback.
Blockchain enabled digital assets as a whole are a new and emerging technology and industry, at KnownOrigin we believe that its current form is only the first phase.
We will continue to innovate and release products over the coming months which will hopefully enhance the flourishing ecosystem. Entirely new concepts and solutions will come to fruition, and we aim to be part of that journey by testing some of our crazy ideas and turning them into a reality.
We find that making small iterative advancements and testing out specific ideas and solutions is best way we work, especially when referring to things like Blockchain technology which moves so fast and does not wait for anyone. Once this feature is enabled and live we will report back on its success and usage.
If you have any thoughts or feedback on adding this feature then please come speak to use directly on our telegram channel.
Once the feature is live we will do a deep dive into the technicals of how it all fits together.
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