How Can The Blockchain Revolutionize Photography?
At this point, you’ve probably heard plenty about how blockchain technology promises to “revolutionize” industries like banking, finance, and retail. But did you know this tool has broad, fascinating applications for the art world, too?
We’re not just talking about surface-level applications like accepting bitcoin as a payment method for licensing fees or something. There’s a much more in-depth way to look at the technology.
Digital technology has already changed photography and how we think about, create, and distribute art in general. Introducing blockchain to photography just makes sense; it’s part of a natural progression in the industry.
What Can Blockchain Offer Artists?
Well, the blockchain is basically a decentralized leger. You can think of it like a Google Sheet in a lot of ways; the blockchain stores an ongoing record of transactions, and it is distributed and updated in real-time across all users’ computers. Any user can add or edit information remotely, but it takes a majority of all the machines on the network to verify and okay the transaction.
Commercial photography is both created and distributed digitally. It’s a digital product through-and-through, which makes it easy to record, track, transfer, and license using blockchain technology. The tokenization of images using blockchain enables limited “editions,” as blockchain improves on existing methods of protecting intellectual property.
Physical prints are inherently scarce; there’s only as many of them out there in the world as you’re willing to print. However, digital copies could be replicated and used without the artist’s license. Up until now, you didn’t really have any way to enforce your rights as the owner of a digital file.
Blockchain technology allows artists to create “digitally-rare” editions. Entities can use blockchain to issue digital copies of intellectual property in the same way that they issue currencies like Bitcoin.
Is Anyone Experimenting with the Technology?
Yes. In fact, one of the most iconic brands associated with photography has already announced plans to explore blockchain technology.
Kodak announced their own “Kodak Coin” a while back as a way to try and help artists manage rights to their images. The Kodak Coin would allow users to issue licenses for digital images using blockchain technology.
We haven’t seen how this will work out just yet, but many people remain skeptical of the Kodak Coin concept. Since the platform is still under Kodak’s control, it’s not truly decentralized. At the same time, a lot of people are still very wary of decentralized digital platforms. This leaves photographers trapped between a rock and a hard place in terms of moving forward with the technology.
Education is the Key
Blockchain is an exciting new technology…but that’s part of what holds it back. No one wants to be the “guinea pig,” especially not for a technology they don’t fully understand. That’s why educating people on the benefits of this technology is the first step toward widespread adoption.
People with legal, technical, and artistic expertise need to come-together on this, because the blockchain technology can benefit everyone is developed and implemented properly.