Sony will introduce a blockchain-based DRM system, according to a press release, “for authenticating, sharing, and rights management of educational data, and additionally features functionality for processing rights-related information.”
“This newly-developed system is specialized for managing rights-related information of written works, with features for demonstrating the date and time that electronic data was created, leveraging the properties of blockchains to record verifiable information in a difficult to falsify way, and identifying previously recorded works, allowing participants to share and verify when a piece of electronic data was created and by whom.”
While we often think of Sony as a consumer electronics company, they’re also Sony Pictures, Sony Creative Software, Kobo Store, SonyMusic, Sony Global Education, Sony Interactive Entertainment. Sony manages huge libraries of movies, television, ebooks, music, and video games—and all related digital rights management.
According to Cointelegraph, Sony announced its partnership with IBM on its original blockchain product for education data a year ago. This new development is probably an extension of this initial blockchain-based project. According to Coindesk, “Sony is in the top 30 companies for blockchain-related patents, having filed at least 20 applications.”
According to CoinJournal, Sony recently applied for a patent a blockchain-based digital rights management system that would manage rights to “various types of content or other data, such as movies, television, video, music, audio, games, scientific data, medical data, etc.” Diana Ngo reported:
“It details several potential implementations of the technology, including one where each user’s rights are encoded on a dedicated blockchain. In this scheme, the ledger begins with a genesis block that stores identifying information about a user. When the user acquires rights to certain content, those rights are committed to the blockchain.”
As recently as 20-25 years ago, it was tough to steal intellectual property like music, art, photos, movies, and books. Everything was mostly analog and each copy degraded quality, and the nascent networks that made up 1993’s internet were slow outside of corporate and academic T1 and T3 lines so transmission was either slow or the samples were low.
Yes, people were trading dirty pictures and pirating software via bulletin board systems and USENET in uuencoded binaries; however, there weren’t that many people doing it. On International Talk Like a Pirate Day—September 19—I wrote about how out-of-control copyright infringement became with the advent of peer-to-peer sharing and broadband internet and how Custos Media Technologies, for example, tried to help ferret out pirated media by hiding a “small amounts of Bitcoin that you can claim if you’re the first person to find the pirated content. Claiming the BTC will alert Custos.”
Until I was 32, I was a professional photographer. My line was stock photography. I was signed by Getty Images (formerly Corbis née The Stock Market). I shot film. Slide film. The best I could do to maintain control of my images was to put the copyright symbol next to my name, ©Chris Abraham. My images included royalties until they didn’t. Now, tracking down and shutting down unlicensed, pirate, images is a full-time job for so many lawyers.
Because blockchains are designed to be immutable—once a block is written to a blockchain, it cannot be altered—and because they’re also secure, decentralized, and have a perfect chain of custody, companies like Sony Entertainment can effectively prevent any of their intellectual property from ever “falling off a truck.” From the moment the artist clicks “publish”—and even before, during the drafting process—the genesis block of that distributed ledger that will spend its life protecting the rights of the next Spider-Man movie is created and never, ever, will anyone be able to pirate it for as long as it’s in distribution—and beyond.
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“With great power, comes great responsibility.” —Uncle Ben