KODAKCoin Arrives to Expand on the World of Crypto-Currency
Kodak launches new blockchain-based systems for payments and protecting IP.
It sounded like an April Fools joke. After the Long Island Iced Tea company drove up their stock by changing their name to Long Blockchain, and with the wild Bitcoin price fluctuations of recent weeks, the announcement of Kodak launching KODAKCoin would seem like a prank if it had launched on April 1st. The thing is: it's not April, and this isn't a joke. Kodak sees a benefit to photographers (and eventually filmmakers) in the blockchain technology that underlies bitcoin and other modern alternative currencies.
For those who have happily avoided the flurry of recent articles, Blockchain technology is a key technology underpinning Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency of the moment. Blockchain is a public ledger that no individual entity controls. Instead of a central repository for data (such as a central bank monitoring currency), the blockchain is a ledger that is maintained by all members who participate. Each transaction propagates out and gets recorded in every single ledger (linked to the transaction before it and after it) and are continually checked against each other, making the possibility of a corrupt actor violating the ledger exceptionally difficult.
Much of the hype around blockchain is the ability to create and track a purely digital form of currency, and Kodak is going to be launching one with KODAKCoin. Primarily targeted at photographers, it's designed to be an easier, digital, cross-border way to receive payments when those photographers are also part of KodakOne, the new platform designed to use Blockchain as a method for tracking intellectual property for the use of licensed images.
A public ledger could be a useful tool for tracking imagery, and an anonymous, non-government payment system could be essential to making sure creators get paid.
By combining a blockchain ledger for secure records with a web crawler, Kodak is working to build a tool for the new image creation economy. In the past, Kodak has let some technologies pass them by—they famously invented digital photography in the 1970s and failed to capitalize on it—but of all the stories we've read regarding the current blockchain craze, this one makes practical sense. There's a real problem with imagery being stolen and used on for-profit platforms like blogs and advertising without properly crediting and paying the original creator. A public ledger could be a useful tool for tracking imagery, and an anonymous, non-government payment system could be essential to making sure creators get paid.
How this will work remains unclear. If scrapping the entire web for copyright-infringing images didn't require a lot of computing power, Shutterstock would already be doing it the way the recording industry auto-searches YouTube for infringement. This is more than just a single site: it's the entire web that will need policing. Bitcoin pays "miners" to maintain the blockchain by releasing new bitcoins that have value, but will Kodak also pay out KODAKCoin to "searchers" who frequently hunt for infringing photographs? If so, that's a major improvement over the pure math work of bitcoin miners, but it opens up even more questions, such as how will these photographs be identified? By content? You would think so, as it would be easy for infringers to change the file name, metadata, and framing.
No word on if it will also launch for stock video footage, but the need is clearly there. If Kodak can get it working properly to decrease the likelihood of still-image plagiarism, they can do the same for motion. Thanks to their announcement this week, Kodak's stock surged 60% to over $5/share.
For more information, check out the KODAKOne platform page.