You may be familiar with Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies.” These are new ways of storing and transferring value which do not rely on a centralized bank account, but rather on a new technology which verifies the value without a bank account to verify the money.
That distributed technology is called “blockchain,” and it is considered secure for all transactions even without a central clearing point like a bank. That same technology is being used to supply and manage intellectual property on the internet, making it much harder to copy and steal information and art with legitimate copyrights.
The Kodak example
It may have been many years since you have heard of Kodak, but they are still around. Their latest invention is called KodakOne, and it is a system for managing intellectual property. In their case, it is primarily for photographs with copyrights attached, but in principle it can be used for anything.
The system, still under development, uses a blockchain system as a digital rights management platform. Photographs are distributed securely using the system and payment is recorded as part of the ledger. It will be combined with system which monitors the web for unauthorized use, and then compare it to the secured copyright system.
What makes this a pure intellectual property management system is that what is purchased through it is not the photographs themselves, but the entry into the blockchain. Think of it as a ledger system which is distributed and yet completely secure. Rights are recorded and then can be published.
Other intellectual property applications
Many other applications of blockchain technology for intellectual property are being worked on as well. Any property rights can be encoded, whether intellectual or otherwise, and distributed without worry about security.
There are also applications for legal documents, works in progress, and any other system which relies on an established chain of right or privileges in a distributed environment. Think of it as a way of managing the ethereal “cloud” with genuine security and respect for ownership rights of all kinds.
Much more to come
Naturally, this is a new frontier for intellectual property and there will be many more new platforms to come. What is important is that this new technology will be an effective way of managing intellectual property and providing good provenance for any sale of rights.
Blockchain, as a technology, is far more than Bitcoin. It stands to revolutionize how all forms of property are managed and transferred in the digital age.