This date marks the death of literary giants such as William Shakespeare, Miguel de Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega. Their legacy and the importance of books and their authors’ intellectual property rights are celebrated each year at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in New York.
However, copyright infringement is on the rise and become a worldwide phenomenon. Research by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) indicates as many as 4 million eBooks, equivalent to appropriately 17 percent of the global total, are now pirated annually. Yet this staggering number represents only a tip of the copyright and intellectual property infringement iceberg.
Original creative works from movies, music, and photographs to designer accessories, software, and even academic theses are plagued by piracy. Original music is the most seriously pirated product, with an estimated 38 percent of all recorded music acquired illegally, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (FPI).
While governments and law enforcement authorities in many countries are working hard to protect intellectual property and copyrights, but the large volume of piracy, as well as the advance of technology, makes the challenge extremely difficult.
But now, new technology against such theft has found a way to alleviate this global scourge.
As a transparent, decentralized, incorruptible digital ledger of all transactions, blockchain technology can be programmed to help prove rights of ownership. Blockchain-powered platforms can track plagiarism and piracy on the internet.
Blockchain-based music platforms and streaming companies, including Choon, Feedbands, SingularDTV, Tao Network, and others, are utilizing the technology for copyright protection and piracy prevention. Like popular traditional streaming companies (e.g. Spotify, iTunes, Netflix), they offer customers the ability to stream copyrighted content. The difference is its visible feature: digital publishing and distribution platforms that allow artists to release their original music with digital signatures attached.
They use smart contracts and the digital blockchain ledger to track music plays. Every time a song is played, the blockchain is updated, and they can easily track which songs are being streamed by whom. Companies use blockchain technology to transparently track artists’ statistics while also providing earning incentive for playlist creators. Choon pays artists in Choon Coins, pumped out by its own crypto token system. In Feedbands, both artists and listeners are paid in Bitcoin: artists for their original content, and listeners for referring new customers.
For China, the country has long been accused of copyright infringements and piracy. However, recently companies have begun supporting copyright protection, with blockchain being applied. Xiamen Anne Corporation, for example, is among China’s first companies to apply blockchain technology to verify authors’ creative works start dates, grant authorizations, usage and tracking of potential infringement.
The company supports a mobile client for digital copyright service, and users can apply for digital copyright with different kinds of original works, including photography, Weibo postings, Wechat articles, and small videos, among others.
Currently, players in the blockchain space are racing to come up with new ideas to eliminate the global copyright infringement problem. With this being said though, while applications with blockchain at the core are disrupting the sector, they have not yet deterred pirates.
The fact is, thieves are always out there, and people always want a free lunch. The real challenge is to educate people that illegal file sharing and other forms of copyright infringement are not only against the law but morally and ethically wrong.
Until this mindset changes, the problem is likely to continue. In the meantime, apart from coming up with more stringent regulations, blockchain tech seems to be among the most valuable weapons for protecting everyone’s artistic assets.
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Asia Blockchain Review is the largest initiative for media and community building in Asia for blockchain technology. It aims to connect all blockchain enthusiasts on a regional scale and facilitate the technological foundation of blockchain through a range of group discussions, technical workshops, conferences, and consulting programs.
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