Photochain’s potential to disrupt recognized by photography industry

Last week, in the heart of photogenic Berlin, the annual CEPIC congress was held. CEPIC, which stands for Center of the Picture Industry, is a federation of 600 picture agencies and photo libraries in 20 countries across Europe. Members including Shutterstock, Wavebreak Media and technology providers such as picturemaxx, who get together in what is the most prestigious annual meeting of the photography industry.

For Photochain this was a great honour to be invited to sit down with the industry’s decision makers — an industry currently valued at more than $80 billion dollars and growing at 6% a year. They have heard a great deal about Photochain’s mission to bring blockchain to the industry, and wanted to know firsthand how our blockchain technology can help them.

From the Photochain team, attendees were CEO Stanislav andPhotographer Relationship Officer Fredi. CEPIC was the perfect occasion for us to meet and explore opportunities with C-level attendees from more than 250 established industry players.

Not only did we hold face-to-face talks with the biggest firms in the industry, Stanislav took part in a discussion panel alongside other advocates for blockchain in the photography industry — including Copytrack and KodakCoin.

Blockchain powered change

What we already knew quickly became very apparent — that the photography industry is ready for disruption. Blockchain specifically, enables new efficient distribution channels — allowing photographers to sell directly to buyers and for agencies to reach more buyers — whilst providing a innovative security mechanism such as tracking ownership and proof of licensing.

The industry fully understands and appreciates what blockchain can do for them, so naturally many CEPIC members were keen to know how Photochain can help them. For image agencies for example, they were surprised to learn, that actually they can keep their image libraries on their own platform, while Photochain offers them a peer-to-peer, cryptographically secure platform, that tracks licensing and misuse. Buyers will download the purchased image directly from Photochain, but for those photographers who choose to work via agencies, they can still benefit from blockchain’s properties, without having to come directly to us themselves.

Blockchain also establishes new, technology powered business models. For example, currently, the business-to-consumer market is dominated by very few big players and offering only royalty free imagery. Blockchain technology is the perfect tool to enable photographers to safely monetize their images, as licensing is fully transparent.

Creating a new market

Undoubtedly, the major concern for any image seller is “how can I ensure that nobody uses my property without my permission?” In the battle against copyright breaches, blockchain can be a mitigating driver.

This is where our strategic partnership with Copytrack comes in. As we’ve announced before, Copytrack is using blockchain to develop a Global Copyright Register of digital images. This register will act as a recording of true ownership of the image, and who has been granted usage rights. Copytrack have already established themselves as a leader in Copyright enforcement, they are the only service that sweeps the entire web for instances of image use — both authorized and unauthorized — taking action against 100% of their cases.

Copytrack have been a member of CEPIC for a few years, having proven they are a key technological innovator in the commercial photography domain. Looking forward, services like Photochain and Copytrack will facilitate growth of the market, enabling photographers of all levels to sell their works in a simple and direct to buyer way. With more and more individuals gaining an interest in skilled photography, blockchain provides a solution for the uninitiated to secure their works online.

The future of blockchain in photography

These sentiments were echoed by the participants on the blockchain panel discussion CEO Stanislav was invited to sit on. To kick-off CEPIC, he, alongside creators of KodakCoin and Wemark, answered the question, “Can Blockchain Be Applied to the Photo Industry?”

To answer this question, and allow you to imagine how blockchain will be a crucial enabler in the industry, here is future scenario:

“Eventually all new photos will be timestamped and permanently stored in the blockchain, as soon as they are taken. If they’re a professional photographer, this image may be sold to The New York Times as soon as this time stamp occurs. A transaction occurs, The NY Times is given the license to publish and the photographer receives a payment, in cryptocurrency. This transaction is recorded on the blockchain. If the blockchain reads that somebody other than the photographer and The NY Times has published that image, then it is a copyright infringement and action must be taken.”

So this is all well and good if you are a professional photographer, but what about amateurs? By decentralizing management of works and rights, there is more flexibility for photographers. This includes photographers who weren’t getting as much exposure — due to current costs of outsourcing license management. Blockchain helps to grow the number of licensed images available which will create a fairer and more value generating market.

“Blockchain will return the images market back to the creative community.”

Photochain has always understood and shared this message, also recognized on the panel by Krystof Kriz, CEO of IPStock.

And finally on the panel, as Philip Köhn, CEO of Wenn Digital, the blockchain startup building KodakCoin,

“Let’s not focus on how a blockchain works, but on the benefits it offers.”

We don’t need to understand how the technology works, especially at a deeper level, but there is a clear benefit for its users.

Where do we go from here?

Overall blockchain’s secure tracking of licensing creates digital scarcity, thus making individual photos more valuable. This is the potential that we at Photochain, and our competitors see.

Blockchain will shape the industry greatly over the next years, with participants of all types (photographers, distributors, agencies etc) benefitting. This technology has the potential to increase the efficiency, value and market size of the digital images industry, whilst making working conditions, payment and ownership battles much fairer.

For us at Photochain, the CEPIC congress was perfect for establishing relationships and partnerships within the photography industry. It seems the we, and the industry, have a bright future thanks to blockchain technology.

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