Crypto currency, Bitcoin, Blockchain. These tech buzzwords have found mainstream attention as of late. And Kodak’s latest headline is fueling their popularity. It was announced today that they would be partnering with WENN Digital in a licensing partnership. In a press release by Kodak, it states:
Today Kodak and WENN Digital, in a licensing partnership, announced the launch of the KODAKOne image rights management platform and KODAKCoin, a photo-centric cryptocurrency to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.
But how does this help photographers? The initiative outlines that a platform, called ‘KODAKOne’ will allow photographers, and potentially photo-journalistic agencies, an outlet to properly purchase and license digital media usage on the internet. Traditionally, centralized image licensing companies, like Getty Images, have been a common platform to license image usage. However, the issue is difficulty in proving an image has been properly licensed for usage. With the use of a distributed blockchain, transactions on an image are maintained within a hashed ledger which cannot be altered. Although details are not clear at this point, it is believed that in some way these hashes are provided with the image as proof of ownership/licensing.
Utilizing blockchain technology, the KODAKOne platform will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform. With KODAKCoin, participating photographers are invited to take part in a new economy for photography, receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, and for both professional and amateur photographers, sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform.
Kodak has received sharp criticism in creating its own currency, citing an economic bubble of other crypto currency platforms such as Bitcoin. However, KODAKCoin will be backed with federal regulations by the SEC as an ICO, initial coin offering, which adds legitimacy and value to safely exchange KODAKCoin for liquid currency. Kodak will make its initial coin offering to registered investors beginning January 31, 2018.
Interestingly, applications for KODAKCoin could potentially be used by photographers not only for purchasing imaging rights, but other applications such as purchasing photographic equipment. In the future, it’s possible photographic stores such as B&H Photo Video, Adorama, and even Amazon may accept KODAKCoin for photographic and electronics purchasing.
KODAKCoin is only half of the equation. KODAKOne will provide a management platform which will actively scan the internet searching for images, registered through the platform, detecting misuse of an image. Once a misused image is detected, Kodak will engage with the offending party with a post licensing process.
KODAKOne platform provides continual web crawling in order to monitor and protect the IP of the images registered in the KODAKOne system. Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, the KODAKOne platform can efficiently manage the post-licensing process in order to reward photographers.
Blockchain technology, the foundation of crypto currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, was created as a transactional based platform that provides additional layers of security to transactions. With it’s focus on cryptographic hashing and signature algorithms, it makes it incredibly difficult to make an unauthorized change to a transaction within a blockchain. Because KODAKCoin, and crypto currency overall, is in its infancy, many questions remain with its technical details and implementation strategy of Kodak’s platform.
What isn’t in question, is the century old company’s commitment to keeping up with technological changes. And this can only mean good things on the horizon for photographers as they move into the digital future.
For a (very) technical explanation of blockchain technology, you may refer to these two videos:
Host and Executive Producer for Studio C-41