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Is Blockchain-Powered Copyright Protection Possible?


The many uses and proposed uses for blockchain technology include smart contracts, decentralized payment systems, insurance claims, supply chain management, health records management, land title registration, energy grid management and now protection from copyright infringement.

Websites like Blockai, Pixsy, TinEye, Ascribe, Mediachain and Proof of Existence promise to use blockchain technology to register and protect against copyright infringement. They understand that a public decentralized ledger like the blockchain is ideal for cataloging and storing original works of art, documents, manuscripts, photographs and images, away from any central authority.

Even if the copyright service ceases to exist, there will still be a verifiable copy of an original work on the blockchain.

Addison Cameron-Huff, a Toronto-based lawyer whose specialties include bitcoin and blockchain businesses and copyright infringement, told Bitcoin Magazine:

"One application for blockchains that I expect to see is a registry of ownership (history of assignments). It can be very difficult to trace the ownership chain for copyrighted works (especially with multiple authors, e.g. sound + video + text). Traceable ownership is a problem domain that blockchains are especially well suited for."

Blockai uses the blockchain for writers and artists to timestamp their work, keep a "vigilant eye" out for anyone violating their copyright, create a permanent record of their work and issue their clients a time-stamped copyright certificate.

Every user has a profile on the site which allows them to file and organize all their certificates. Once uploaded, the service can track online usage of a client's work and alert them if there is any unauthorized usage.

As Blockai has noted:

"It's obvious that the current copyright system in the United States is well behind the times in a digital age and doesn't provide nearly enough (affordable) resources for victims of theft, especially if you find yourself going up against a large and powerful group. As we wait for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to turn, Blockai hopes to be a useful and easy-to-use solution."