Skip to main content

Five Questions about Blockchain for Rightsholders

Five questions about Blockchain for Rightsholders (that you’ve been wondering about but didn’t have anyone to ask)

Many people have heard something about blockchain, but it can seem like only a few really know what it’s about or how it works. That’s understandable. It’s also likely the reason more than 200 people registered within 48 hours for a webinar we hosted earlier this week called Blockchain 101 for Rightsholders: The Promise of Web 4.0. (Watch the video above).

From that session, I wanted to share a few of the questions we received from creators and publishers. They may be questions you’ve been wondering about, too. Here are The Top Five Questions about Blockchain for Rightsholders that you’ve been wondering about but didn’t have anyone to ask.


1. Is blockchain only for the tech-savvy?

No. Think of it this way: You can use the Internet to do your banking, or make purchases, but you don’t need to understand the underlying technology. It’s the same with blockchain. If you check that your information is secure, and the process works, you won’t even know you’re using a blockchain.


2. Can blockchain be used to register creative works? You know, the way authors used to mail manuscripts to themselves.

You bet. Essentially, blockchain is a digital time-stamping machine. Without getting too technical, each block in a blockchain has time and date built into it. Once an activity (such as the registration of a creative work) is logged on the blockchain, the record is immutable and can be audited by anyone.


3. In terms of blockchain adoption, how does the creative industry compare to others?

Uptake by financial organizations and supply chain management are in the lead, but the creative industry is close behind. This is especially exciting for those of us based in Canada – we’re the birthplace of Ethereum (an open source blockchain platform), home to Blockchain Research Institute and projects like Aion.


4. How will blockchain control piracy?

Unfortunately, it can’t. blockchain is not a panacea. Sure, there are safeguards and cryptographically secure ways to build a blockchain, but the reality is that there will always be people with malicious intent who will try to corrupt it.

I think we need to ask a different question and it’s this: How will blockchain technology change users’ behaviors and interactions with content? When people look for content, (like books, music or movies, for example) they used to look for the easiest way to find it for free. Now, the approach has shifted to finding the best quality content on the most user-friendly platform for a reasonable fee. Think Netflix, Spotify or Amazon Prime. This shift has really taken place over the past 5 years and I predict that in the next 5-10 years, blockchains will be another source of content and that rightsholders will benefit.


5. Will physical creations, like books or sculptures, benefit from blockchain?

It’s easy to see how digital creations, like an e-book or music might exist on a blockchain but there’s an interesting application for physical objects as well. These objects can each be assigned a digital fingerprint, like a barcode.  The technical terminology is indexing mechanism. The indexing mechanism linking a physical object to a digital fingerprint hasn’t been perfected but when it is, we’ll have the ability to reliably track an object and confirm its authenticity.