If you’re a creator or a designer, you’d probably know how easily you can lose your content to thieves. Of course, there are IP laws that can enforce your legal rights as the owner; there are still gaps that need to be filled.
For example, to prove that you are the owner of an art piece, you would need to argue about its creation. And that for sure isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Besides, the digital technologies at hand have made it more challenging to prove so for property owners.
Until now, there wasn’t a definitive registration system that could prove the ownership of intellectual properties. Thanks to blockchain technology, it is about to change for the better.
You’d probably know blockchain as the backbone for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Yes, the very same technology is changing the IP registration system.
Intellectual Property Protection in the Digital Age
Creating something, be it a photograph, a song, or simply an article should ideally associate the property to the creator. Or at least, that’s what the law dictates.
However, when it’s the owner’s word against the thief’s, the lack of any official document to prove the ownership rights is no less than vanity.
Patents and IP Protection
An inventor that actually creates a tangible product can go to the patent’s office and claim the ownership. But, for creators with only the ideas, it can get trickier. In other words, ideas don’t usually fit into the definition of patent-ship.
Until the idea or the work is published, there’s no actual timestamp to legitimize its ownership.
More so, the internet has made it all the more challenging, as already mentioned.
Today, the internet has become a gigantic repository of online information. Anyone from anywhere can access any piece of information. Besides, it is even possible to download these pieces without the publisher’s consent.
It can become challenging for the property owners to sift through all of these information pieces one by one. Even with the most sophisticated crawlers and bots, scanning the world wide web would require a lot of time.
Claiming for the Ownership of work
Consider another situation. Someone downloads your work and uses it personally, say as their desktop wallpaper. Ideally, if someone’s using your work for personal use, you might not stand a good chance. Or you wouldn’t even need to prove your IP rights.
Whereas, if a business is using your work without your consent, you would expect them to pay you for it. After all, they are making a profit out of your work. Or at least using your work to create an income stream.
You should know that it’s not that easy to receive a payment for unconsented use of your work, especially if your work is not registered or patented. Moreover, the business would know that the responsibility to prove ownership rests on you. And with all the legal support or representation at their backs, they have the least to worry about. After all, it’s not going to be easy for you to prove the ownership of your work.
Further, you might also need to get yourself a good lawyer to prove that your IP is being used without your consent. And that’s a lengthy and expensive process. Yet, there’s no guarantee that you’d win the case.
Blockchain and Decentralized Ledgers can help
The advent of blockchain platforms has made the IP registration process more streamlined. The network acts as a decentralized ledger that stores information.
It is noteworthy that any information on the network is transparent and immutable. Meaning, intellectual property protection can be more accurate and secure. And not to forget that the process of registering IP rights also becomes cost-effective and faster.
Let’s understand how.
A decentralized ledger system, such as blockchain works by creating “blocks.” These blocks hold unique data, a lot like traditional record-keeping systems.
The only difference is that these blocks are subsequently linked to each other. And any change in the information stored in a block would mean disrupting the whole chain.
Encryption Technology and Hash
For creating a block of information, the decentralized ledger system uses encrypted language. In other words, the work isn’t recorded as such, but a numeric and alphabetic code is attached to it, known as a “hash.”
This “hash” is then fed into a block. It is worth noting here that each block can contain several of these “hash” codes.
Subsequently, the block is also coded with a new “hash,” which is then added to the network chain—creating a record of when a property was created and by whom.
Also, any block or information on the network is visible to all the people connected to the network. But then again, to access the information stored within, they’d need to perform labor-intensive computation. It could further make it difficult for anyone (especially thieves) to access this information.
Blockchain not only lends legal rights to intellectual property owners but also offers automation to a large extent.
Until now, bureaucracy has never been a necessary evil. The involvement of legal representation and proving ownership of IP rights has been a costly affair. But with the advent of blockchain-based smart contracts, the creators and ideators are in for a big win.
More so, the rise of Artificial Intelligence has further simplified the process of copyright protection. Scouring the web for intellectual properties that are protected by the existing laws comes easy and efficient.
But, then again, to enjoy these benefits, the information should be immutable. And that is where blockchain technology comes to help.
Blockchain-Based IP Protection is the future
Just the way the industrial revolution allowed creators to make a profit from their good designs, blockchain technology can help these creators protect their designs.
Especially the small players in the industry, who neither have enough resources nor have the legal knowledge, can benefit the most.
The blockchain can not only ensure legal protection for their work but can also enhance their profitability.
Of course, depending upon the kind of work that creators create, the options would vary. But, blockchain technology is simply here to protect the information, which could be a decisive factor in the long run for small companies.