- Kodak’s stock more than doubled in price early Tuesday following news that the photo company will launch a new blockchain-based rights-management service.
- Kodak will use a blockchain, which is the technology behind bitcoin, to track the online use of photographs licensed through its system. The service is designed to help photographers get paid for use of their images.
- Blockchains have shown promise in being used to track the licensing, use, and sale of artistic works.
Kodak shares more than doubled in price early Tuesday following an announcement that the historically influential photography company will launch a new blockchain product.
The company’s stock was trading $US7.05 a share at press time, up $US3.95, or 127.4%.
Kodak is only the latest company to revive interest in itself and see its shares surge after making an announcement related to blockchain technology, the digital ledger behind cryptocurrencies including bitcoin and ether. But Kodak’s new project, which involves a rights-management system for images and a related cryptocurrency, appears to be a serious effort to use a blockchain to solve a real problem.
“For many in the tech industry, ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ are hot buzzwords, but for photographers who’ve long struggled to assert control over their work and how it’s used, these buzzwords are the keys to solving what felt like an unsolvable problem,” Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said in a statement.
KodakOne, the rights management service, is designed to allow photographers to track how their copyrighted images are being used on the internet. That dovetails with one of the capabilities of blockchains; by design they can be used to track ownership of digital goods, including intellectual property rights.
The rights management service will continuously crawl the web to keep track of how images registered in its system are being used online. When the crawler comes across unlicensed uses of images in its system, the service will help photographers get paid for their work.
Keeping track of the ownership of goods, particularly of works of art traded and used online, could end up being one of the main ways blockchains are used in the real world. It can be difficult for collectors to verify the authenticity of a piece of art, especially those bought online. It can also be hard for artists to restrict the use of their works, or to be sure that they will really get paid for use of them.
As one example of how companies are using the digital ledger technology to deal with such issues, the Italian fine art website Look Lateral uses a blockchain called Dragonchain to generate proof of authenticity for the art it sells. The site sells some works of art for more than $US100,000, and it depends on its blockchain to collect payment and to offer a record of ownership.
Kodak’s image-rights project, which it developed in partnership with the blockchain development company Wenn Digital, will use a new cryptocurrency called KodakCoin. When photographers licence their images through KodakOne, they will be paid in KodakCoin. The photographers can then sell their KodakCoins on a cryptocurrency exchange for dollars.
KodakCoins will go on sale January 31 via a fundraising technique called an initial coin offering, through which the company will sell a set amount of coins. Companies establishing new blockchain-based systems commonly launch new cryptocurrencies to serve as a means of exchanging money within those systems. However, such alternative cryptocurrencies sometimes see their value spike as investors look to turn a profit on the hype around new coins.
“KodakCoin is all about paying photographers fairly and giving them an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new economy tailored for them, with secure asset rights management built right in,” Wenn Digital CEO Jan Denecke said in the statement.
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