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A Blockchain-based Copyrighting and Licensing App
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The Idea Next Arrow

The genesis of this idea came from reading an article on the Thomson Reuters (TR) corporate intranet (The Hub), titled, Deep Shift - Technology Tipping Points and Societal Impact. One of the "tipping points" cited being the technology behind "Bitcoin and the Blockchain." Blockchain technology. This gave me an idea for a simple consumer app. MyIP.

Conversing on The Hub with some very smart TR people around the globe as to what can be and is being done led me to research further about this blockchain technology, and—"smart contracts." The possibilities and what people are already doing is creating tremors across the digital landscape... like the Web was in the mid/late-90s.

Working in Thomson Reuters' Intellectual Property division, as well as involved in creative circles in Detroit, my thought after reading about the blockchain technology and its many possibilities was a consumer app that simplifies—with an upload and the click of a button—copyright protection on things like artwork, photos, music, writings, and such. All the things one might copyright through the US Copyright Office. The blockchain timestamp serves the same protection the US Copyright Office does. In addition, include a feature to easily license said materials, this too using the blockchain technology to implement the process through smart contracts.

Over a weekend I started concepts on what such a TR product might entail. My first thought was this could make a nice little solo app, a product its own—and it could. A simple, consumer app. I know artists, photographers, musicians would be more inclined to copyright and utilize such an app if it were simple to use and had reasonable fees. To copyright something through the US Copyright office is not simple and is costly, relatively speaking—to a starving artist.

The Mockup Next Arrow

MyIP Flowchart MyIP-1 MyIP-1 MyIP-1 MyIP-1 MyIP-1 MyIP-1

What the flowchart and high-level, mockups illustrate is a typical copyright of a photograph and existing portfolio, then a license request/fulfillment. For the artist it would be a matter of first setting up an account, then simply upload the work to be copyrighted: photos, digital representations of artwork, sculptures, graphics, maps, music, sound effects, compilations, writings, poems, screenplays, stage plays, dramas, comedy acts, movies, documentaries—basically anything the US Copyright Office will accept. Copyrighted for a very reasonable fee... or free.

"Hello Mr Gnotek... edge breaking stuff keep up the innovation. I think you are onto something..."

—Technical Account Manager 3
Johannesburg, South Africa

Then the artist would determine if their purpose is just copyright protection, or if they would license their work as well. If so, it would simply be a matter of deciding what kind of licensing arrangement they want to offer—from a single, specific event or purpose, to a full transfer of copyright. If co-authored/created, specifiying what percentage each principal gets is also required. These variables make the smart contract.

The Conclusion

No conclusion yet. This is a very recent idea. This is a budding technology. There was a lot of chatter and interest around this post and idea. And I came to find some ideas and products are already taking advantage of the blockchain in like fashion. So this idea is very much viable and in active development.

"Sharing with Patent Central - Celebrating our Inventors - possibly interesting for the TR IP board to discuss."

—Head of Catalyst Lab
Baar, Switzerland

The real charmer for me was discovering the blockchain and exploring the possibilities. The possibilities span from existing products to be converted to wholly new ideas. Lots of opportunity to take advantage of the blockchain. For starters, digital wallets and vaults are needed. Many exist already, many more sure to hit the scene, especially when mainstream financial institutions offer bitcoin services. Certainly e-commerce will play large. My first bitcoin purchase was a bluetooth soundbar from Overstock.com. I also did several of my Christmas purchases with bitcoin, as well as bought myself a nice, leather jacket.

Financial for sure will play a huge role in blockchain development. Right now, transfer funds globally... for nothing. The fees abound from converting bitcoin currency to fiat currencies like dollars and euros, but bitcoin to bitcoin—no fees, or if there is, it's very marginal.

Micropayments are now fiscally doable. A satoshi (the smallest unit of currency that can be sent) being but 1/100,000,000 of a bitcoin. A fraction of a penny. That means a whole new industry is likely to arise where any artist may be paid something for their intellectual properties, and people willingly pay a nickel or a dime, or a fraction of a penny to read an article, or view a video, or listen to a song. Likewise for app developers, or any creative enterprise. And those micropayments can add up. The better the content, the more the artist will reap. Thus a greater incentive to rise above mediocracy than simple bragging rights of amount of views or downloads.

Microfiancing and crowdfunding is sure to grow from this technology—and be of great benefit to developing nations, cultures, tribes, and individuals. Honduras is using the blockchain for land title tracking.

Any kind of contracting app is ripe for blockchain. Actually, anything that can be digitized can benefit from blockchain technology. And anything that can service anything that can be digitized can be profitable! There's a huge opportunity for products and ideas not yet thought of (like 90s-WWW, or today's mobile opportunities).

Need some proof of how this works? Send a donation to my wallet below and I will promptly send you a Thank You card ;)