The announcement yesterday that Kodak would launch an Initial Coin Offering on January 31st seemed like a bad joke as a recently bankrupt company appeared to try the latest gimmick to jump start its stock price. To that extent, it seemed to work when Kodak’s shares doubled in value.
That bubble-ific story, ICOs are the latest rage among start-up companies and the financial world just witnessed an iced tea company add blockchain to its name provoking scornful news reports, may just be an unfortunate coincidence. There’s no telling if Kodak’s blockchain application will succeed. Nevertheless, it is a serious application of the blockchain to address the widespread issue of image rights.
One note for those who get over-excited about the application of the blockchain technology to the art market, what Kodak is doing here is making a digital object behave more like a physical one. Too many of those who hyperventilate about the blockchain in the art market think it will do the reverse, make physical objects—namely art—behave like digital ones.
Here’s how Kodak described its partnership with WENN Digital in yesterday’s press release:
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. 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.