Powering the new economy of licensable digital media on the blockchain.
PRM Protocol details and whitepaper at priime.com
Our next big step is to create the PRM Protocol. The PRM Protocol is designed to exchange, trade, and license anything that can be represented digitally. The marketplaces that will be created can curate any kind of digital object to be sold, licensed, and traded. The options for what can be listed in these marketplaces include stock photos, videos, audio, and even brand name royalty licensing. Tech startups can piece together what they need through easy and much cheaper use of the marketplaces, game studios can exchange and license audio snippets, 3D objects, and even brand names (think Pokémon, Disney, Kardashian names). In this post, we will focus on the earliest developments for photo licensing, which is already a multi-billion dollar market.
To start, the PRM Protocol will allow anyone to buy photos recommended by people they trust. Photographers will own their identities and reputation, and have a choice of where to sell their photos. This is made possible by the protocol because it sets the rules for storing data in the public blockchain, that is not owned by any single company. Furthermore, the protocol prevents copyright infringement on all platforms built on PRM.
PRM will make it cheaper to license photos, as there’s no need to pay 50%-80% commission to existing stock agencies. The marketplaces represent true value of products, rather than focusing on unrepresentative revenue streams. PRM will make it faster to sell photos by scaling up the demand through reaching markets untapped and larger than existing markets. PRM will make it better, for photographers and influencers, to license their photos through curated marketplaces that take advantage of the power of human recommendation. All of this will be made possible with the development and launch of the PRM Protocol. In this post we talk about how this all began, and how the pieces have come together.
Framing the Story
We founded Priime in 2014 to innovate for the photography community — a community that we’re proud to call our friends and family.
We started with the Priime editing app, and later expanded our offering to other platforms, but it was never our intention to only work on editing tools. As photographers ourselves, we have always been both aware and involved in the changes, needs, and progress of the photography and creative world around us. Though there are too many areas of improvement to ever compile into a complete list, there are a few notable issues that have become an undeniable threat to creators of photography and all creatives in various disciplines.
One issue is the sustainability of being a creator that has been diminished from their work being used without permission or without fair compensation. The current laws around copyright are not designed for and have not provided adequate protection for the majority of today’s modern creatives. Furthermore, technology allows for the convenient use of photos without consequence, resulting in the rise of expectations for free photo use and a drop in perceived value of creative work.
Another issue is the photographer’s desire for ownership and choice in a world where dependencies on large centralized networks and their goals are a norm. These dependencies are created out of a lack of choice. Without choice, we must adhere to new features and decisions that we might not agree with as an individual creative. Publishing companies, like Instagram, have great services and products for their users, but these users are often tied to specific platforms. The leverage these companies have on their users is their hold on the user’s earned credibility. Through the mechanics of building a network, gaining followers and a wide audience that is proprietary on single platforms like Instagram, many existing users are reluctant to leave even if they disagree with or are unhappy in the platforms choices and developments. The users have very little choice. It is impossible to take the earned network and audience to any other platform.
With all this in mind, we ask ourselves, how can we create a solution that is not about only trying to prevent, fight, and battle this downward spiral? Create a massively adopted system that is more exciting and desirable than taking and using photos without permission, while giving creators ownership and sustainability through a new economic model. We’re approaching this challenge from four different angles:
- Ownership and choice
- Fair value for work
- Editorial recommendations
- Copyright protection
Though these ideas are broad and multifaceted, we believe they can benefit the photography landscape for everyone involved and help move things in the right direction. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but merely a few starting points:
- Create a system where photographers can earn their credibility and value, but not be bound to one company or one product. As a Creator, reputation is everything. It is how you build an audience, make connections, and ultimately drive revenue. On Instagram, for example, one way a photographer’s value can be inferred is from social engagement and followers. The only problem is that social metrics can never be transferred to any other platform. If there was a way to have credibility attached to an individual, as opposed to the company, that would be a great step towards choice and independent ownership of content.
- Set prices for creative work based on tangible evidence instead of guesswork. Pricing art is notoriously complicated. Because art is said to be subjective, whoever owns the content — or owns the content platform — can set prices without justification. But what if we were able to create an evidence-based system for pricing content? Not only would Creators get paid for what they deserve, but Buyers’ confidence would soar. This can be done if there is complete understanding and evidence-based accuracy of how prices are set.
- Enforce or prevent copyright infringement. On the current legal battlefield, Creators must go to court to prove they own the rights to their work — and the person they are accusing does not. Settlement on cases largely relies on the work previously being registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. If the work in question was not registered, the settlement amount is limited, and even if it was, registering each photo or series of photos is difficult and in many cases, impractical. Not to mention the issue of cross-border enforcement, which is basically impossible.
There’s also no way to monitor every corner of the internet to try to find illegal uses of a photo. Even with services that can try to monitor as many places photos are published, it’s unlikely to catch many infringements.
Instead, there needs to be an exciting and fair solution that supersedes the desire to illegally use photos. Spotify, for example, didn’t stop illegally sharing music — they just made a new system so delightful that it is more desirable to play by the rules.
Keeping Everything In-Focus
With these ideas in mind, we started doing our homework: in-depth research on stock photography sites, copyright infringement solutions, and all types of technologies that would be a good framework to learn from. In addition, we talked to hundreds of photographers in our Priime community, leaders in the stock photography industry, and more. Here’s what we learned: Discovery in stock photography works for a market of Buyers who know exactly what they’re searching for, and are well-versed with doing complex and in-depth searches over time. The massive amount of photos is best navigated by the most veteran of Buyers. But for everyone else, these sophisticated tools are often not helpful and definitely not fun.
Scaling the supply has been challenging for stock agencies. The increase in talented Creators in the past eight years, due to the accessibility of great tools, has flooded the traditional marketplaces. The solution isn’t easy, and this has lead to a number of popular free services (creative common zero licenses) that while offer exposure to burgeoning photographers, drastically undervalues their work. A lot of backlash has been seen with photographers of these services giving photos away for free, including from a widely known photographer, Zach Arias, and his issues with Unsplash that shares 100% royalty free photos from talented photographers. When it comes to copyright solutions, the field is just as tricky. Promising solutions exist, including sustainable agencies like Stocksy that employ a Co-op structure to look after their Creators. Binded is another great service that monitors photos, has a TurboTax for registering with USPTO, and uses Proof-of-Existence on blockchain. Even though Proof-of-Existence is promising, it still falls short to proving ownership, as Joe Naylor of ImageRights.com sums up well in his recent article. All have their pros and cons, but we were still left wondering what else could be done.
After countless brainstorm sessions, iterations of potential ideas, and a lot of input and consultation from industry experts, an old idea resurfaced — curation. Human recommendations are powerful, and can be done effectively with curation. What if we let users be the ones to curate, protect, sell, and purchase content? Maybe the system best suited to bolster the current state of the industry is the very system that started it: a digital approach to art gallery curation. So, how do we make sure we address all of the above?
Use the blockchain. First, decentralize everything so that nobody besides the Creator can own the content. In conjunction, create a Protocol that can be used by any company or individual to build a system where the photographer’s content and data can interoperate on any service.
Use a gallery-curation model. Sometimes people know exactly what image they need, and can use the sophisticated tools on existing stock websites to search for the exact fit. Other times, asking a trusted person for recommendations goes a long way. You see this all the time with food and travel recommendations. Yes, there are services like TripAdvisor, but at the end of the day, nothing beats a recommendation from someone you trust. A relevant, curated list of photos from a respected photographer will always trump an algorithm of suggested links. Imagine if a journalist can follow a list of trusted curators on priime.com, who can provide relevant and trustworthy content from around the world to be licensed instantly.
Use math to set a no-conflict price. Likes, followers, and non-chronological algorithms should not define the value of art, especially since they are hard to accurately rely on. So, we work closely with mathematical researchers, economists, and artists to develop an ever-evolving function that accurately represents true value based on observable data. This data also takes into account markets and trends surrounding the media being licensed. Sounds hard, right? But that’s the type of challenge Priime is poised to take on.
Use game theory and logic. Incentivizing good and intended behavior will help create a thriving ecosystem. Games are sometimes seen as silly and non-serious, but if you think about it, successful games are driven by incredibly commendable feats of brilliance. Creating an elegant solution that feels right, non-artificial, and exciting, is exactly the type of solution that can completely change the way photographers publish and sell their work.
Use absolute validations to prove ownership. By utilizing things like digital watermarking, machine-based Proof-of-Ownership, and digital negative data in a private/public key security pattern, a complete solution can be created to use math and machines to absolutely prove something is owned by an individual. It will go beyond just proof of existence, and can replace complicated and prolonged judicial processes, as well as being a solution that is borderless and worldwide. So, with all that in mind, we have something new brewing. Something that our friends, family, and industry leaders can use to continue pursuing their craft in a way that’s sustainable, scalable, and secure. Something that we hope can change the current landscape for the better — increasing sustainability by proving new options for stock agencies and any digital media licensing company to incorporate into their offerings.
PRM is built on the Ethereum blockchain to allow for the creation of user-curated marketplaces to license photography. Furthermore, the Protocol will be developed such that it can be used for any type of digital media licensing, including audio, video, and virtual reality 3D objects. A whole new economy for digital media licensing will be enabled by the PRM Protocol, defined by the power of human recommendation, evidence-driven prices, intelligent systems for curbing copyright infringement, and a rich vein of new revenue streams.
- PRM creates an economy of curated marketplaces based on the power of human recommendations, not algorithms.
- With PRM, the price of licensed digital media is determined by a set of evidence-driven factors. Creators are given sustainable and fair value for their work, and Buyers are supplied with high-quality content at price points they understand.
- The PRM Validation Network creates a frictionless selling process where Buyers are deterred from purchasing fraudulent work, and in turn, ensures that copyright holders are protected against the unauthorized reselling of their work.
- PRM empowers Curators and influencers with the ability to create marketplaces of any size, activating their audiences into a new market of revenue.
Priime will be dedicated to developing and maintaining the Protocol early on, with a plan to open-source it to the community for continued development. On top of that, Priime will work with strategic partners, large and small, throughout the process of development to ensure that once the Protocol is launched there will be useful products already built and made available to creatives globally, in all types of industries.
How can you use it?
Protocol: This is the set of rules that is built into the Ethereum blockchain. That means all the mechanics, game theory, logic, and economic structures are all specified and ready to be built upon. The PRM Protocol is something that companies, organizations, and individuals can develop on top of, to create elegant and powerful end-user products for creators, curators, and buyers. Priime will work closely with developers to create these products.
Partners: Priime will be working hard on developing the PRM Protocol alongside strategic partners that will help the process by providing feedback early on, as well as launch products that can be used. Instead of only functioning like a search engine, imagine a stock photography site that also empowers users to curate their own marketplaces. Imagine building supplemental products and services that allow users to take that value and carry it to any platform they wish. Our goal is to make sure the Protocol is constantly useful and has real utility by listening and collaborating with our strategic partners throughout our development process. Ultimately, the Protocol will be open-source and community-driven so any interested developers can build their desired features.
Priime.com: We will also be building our own end-user products on the PRM Protocol. We want to enable our community of photographers to tap their audiences, large and small, with recommended work of their own and from their peers. We strongly believe that there’s a path towards scaling the growing supply of beautiful creative photography, to make it a sustainable industry for more Creators than ever before. Priime will become a hub for a community of Creators to market, sell, discover, and interact in ways that were not possible before. What you’ll see is not only published work from individual Creators, but a way to discover all the work that they recommend from their peers. The idea is that our community grows together, and that each individual’s accomplishments will be used to help others.
How does PRM work?
PRM is made up of four main parts: The PRM Token, Decentralized Curated Lists (DCLs), Margin Power, and the Validation Network. In other words, you have currency, curated lists of things to purchase, evidence-driven prices, and ways to verify the authenticity of what you’re buying.
The PRM Token looks and functions like any other currency. Except where other Tokens may fluctuate wildly and have no real utility, PRM is used to apply evidence-based value to digital content. Creators, Curators, Buyers, and those who help validate the authenticity of digital content — Challengers and Validators — can all hold PRM Token.
A Decentralized Curated List (DCL) is a marketplace that can be created and curated by anyone. Modeled after museums and galleries, a DCL functions as a curated list of digital media. That could be photographs, video, or even digital representations of physical spaces, like apartment listings. Through the power of human recommendation, DCLs are an elegant way for Curators and Buyers to interact.
Margin Power is designed to accurately represent the value of digital media. Built and designed by our economic and mathematical research team, it uses a series of calculations to make the buying and selling process as frictionless as possible. Creators are given sustainable and fair value for their work, and Buyers are supplied with high-quality content at price points they understand. Our team is constantly studying economic trends so we can develop a system that evolves and matures with the ever-changing market.
The PRM Validation Network pushes to solve copyright infringement with proactive solutions like Proof-of-Ownership and Proof-of-Existence. We understand the frustration Creators feel, and have developed intelligent systems for deterring infringement before it begins, such as using digital negatives and watermarking to establish authenticity. Plus, we designed our system to be extensible, meaning third-parties can build even more protective tools on top of our robust network. For as much as care as we’ve put into building PRM, we know that we can’t think of everything. That’s why we designed PRM to be a beautiful and easy Protocol for others to build upon. For developers who want marketplaces with built-in protection and evidence-driven value, PRM is a solid foundation for any extension imaginable. From individual influencers to large corporations, PRM is the perfect showcase for your next great idea.
The precision, flexibility, and longevity characteristics of a useful Protocol requires the highest level of research and polish. This is why historically there were fewer Protocols, normally backed by governments or extremely large corporations who could provide the runway needed. With the onset of crypto-currencies, and the stage that blockchain technology is in, Priime has a unique opportunity to be able to undertake the development of the PRM Protocol. With the right funds, we will dedicate our resources to developers, our mathematics research team, game logic and economists teams, marketing, legal, and most importantly to our existing and growing community.
While the plans will evolve, the first phase for PRM is clear. We will aggressively develop the first working version of the PRM and simultaneously work with partners to also develop features within their existing offerings to utilize PRM, such that the first version of the PRM Protocol and end-user products can be launched at the same time.
Successive phases will aim to polish up the protocol to be third-party friendly from what we learned with our partners, and to create a community maintained and developed version of the PRM Protocol. This ensures that Priime is not a single point of failure, and the power is with all able and willing maintainers and community members. For our existing photographer community, potential Curators, partners, and Buyers, Priime will also develop a beautiful platform for stock photography marketplaces to grow with collaboration, respect, and sustainability. Our existing products, such as Priime Collections, will be greatly improved by the use of the Protocol, and we expect a lot more advancements as time goes on.
Individuals, partners, and community members, we invite you to join our community on Reddit, Discord, Instagram, Telegram and Twitter. Subscribe to our Medium for updates, and get up to date details and official information on our website at priime.com.
The status of token-sales and crypto-currencies has created a landscape of bad actors who try to take advantage of the excitement for their own dark intentions. Please be vigilant, watch out for phishing and other scams. The Priime team would never publicly request you to send funds, give us passwords, or anything else of the matter. Please practice caution and double-check everything. If you have any doubt or concern, you can always reach us on our official channels for verification. We will never be offended if you request further verification of authenticity in any message or information we may send you.