iSmentors: How blockchain can be used to protect copyright?

 I am a lawyer but I also play the guitar. Let’s imagine I do a facebook livestream where I play my songs – but the stream gets blocked because of my own copyright. What’s this got to do with blockchain – or else how blockchain can help?

08.03.2019, added by Tomasz Palak, Profit Plus

 I am a lawyer but I also play the guitar. Let’s imagine I do a facebook livestream where I play my songs – but the stream gets blocked because of my own copyright. What’s this got to do with blockchain – or else how blockchain can help?


You cannot stream „in advance” on Facebook as that could be copyright infringement – the algorithm is unable to verify the author within such a short timeframe. But what if a solution existed? There actually is a technology that could allow a quick and easy registry of copyright transfer and its instant verification - it is blockchain. What we would “only” need to do is to register all copyright owners in blockchain and then register any ownership transfers. 

That would also simplify the problem of quoting and borrowing pieces of work from other artists. Nowadays, what you need to do is to “clear the sample”. This procedure involves clarifying the legal rights and obtaining permission to use somebody’s work and it’s a process for which you need to pay. Those making electro or hip-hop music are most badly affected. Clearing the samples requires vast amounts of time and money – or, unfortunately, you can learn it the hard way, when you lose a copyright battle in court. 


But there are more ways to back-up IP through blockchain. Let’s consider the first option that comes to mind – cryptocurrency. If the artist, whether the owner of music or some other kind of work expects payment, he will be able to receive it in a way that is much simpler and easier. There will no longer be a need to cooperate with performing rights organisations such as ZAiKS or ZPAS, which for artists lack transparency, and are therefore not in high regard. 

You could also simplify transactions by using smart contracts. The moment a payment is made, let’s say for using a film, a pre-programmed self-managing contract would distribute the money between the director, editor, make-up specialists etc., according to prior arrangements. What’s more – thanks to personalized tokens, assigned to only one person, this could work across different roles and projects. 


We can deal with major risks connected with using blockchain in connection with copyright – this would be solving the issue if blockchain can be considered proper for such operations. In my opinion, it would be a step in the right direction. A different question is the need to comply with the GDPR-related “right to be forgotten” or generally, with rules on personal data protection. Not everyone might wish his or her royalties or rights to a project to be officially known, so these issues would need to be taken care of. It is nevertheless a matter possible to resolve. 


Convincing the big players is usually the hardest part when it comes to innovations. Because of their size, such companies can be a bit sluggish. But they are the ones who could do the most to promote such a solution. It would be good to have Spotify or YouTube interested. For the time being we can follow blockchain-based platforms that internally solve copyright and blockchain issues. This could be dtube for films and resonate for music streaming.

As you can see, the few risks are ones that we can overcome – especially when you consider the amount of advantages in using blockchain to control copyright issues. Such a solution should make the author easily traceable and simplify all payments, also those made directly between the authors.

Let’s keep an eye on what happens next! 



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