Digital photography will never catch on. At least that was the belief held by Kodak in the late 1990s and early 2000s that caused it to lose its overwhelming share of the photography market. Kodak's announcement of its own cryptocurrency – the KODAKCoin – suggests that it is keen to stay ahead of the curve this time when it comes to the use of blockchain technology.
In simple terms, blockchain technology creates a digital ledger of transactions that everyone on the network can see. Each member of the network must validate a transaction before it can be verified and completed.
Blockchain technology was used to create Bitcoin – a decentralized form of currency intended to operate independently from central banks. Other currencies have since emerged based on similar blockchain technology. The cryptocurrency market as a whole grew exponentially in 2017 (for example, Bitcoin reached a record high of $20,000 in December 2017 having begun the year at just $968). Undoubtedly, cryptocurrency is now firmly ensconced in the mainstream consciousness and it seems set to remain in the headlines in 2018 as more and more people invest in it, with others keen to speculate on when they believe the 'bubble' will burst.
The practical uses for blockchain are not though limited to just cryptocurrency and it is seeing increased use as a disruptive technology in other sectors.
The KODAKCoin is the latest development in the legal application of blockchain to copyright. As well as being a cryptocurrency of itself to enable photographers to receive immediate payment for the sale or licensing of their works, behind the KODAKCoin will sit an image rights management platform. This will not only create an encrypted digital ledger of ownership, but will also continually trawl the web looking for any unauthorised use of an image.
Primary infringement in copyright does not require any knowledge or intention to infringe and businesses are often unaware that by taking images from the web for use on their own website or marketing materials they could be opening themselves up to a claim for breach of copyright. Algorithmic software is already in widespread use (particularly by image rights management companies), making it quicker and easier to identify potential breaches of copyright. This has resulted in an increase in the number of breach of copyright claims brought.
Subject to how widely it is adopted, the KODAKCoin's coupling of electronic searches with incontestable proof of ownership has the potential to increase yet further the volume of breach of copyright claims that are made and which businesses holding qualifying insurance will look to pass on to their insurers .