- Thomson Reuters
- Kodak’s stock more than doubled in price on Tuesday following news that the photo company will launch a new blockchain-based rights-management service designed to help photographers get paid for the use of their images.
- Kodak says it will use a blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, to track the online use of photos licensed through its system.
- Blockchains have shown promise in tracking the licensing, use, and sale of artistic works.
Kodak shares more than doubled in price on Tuesday following an announcement that the historically influential photography company will launch a new blockchain product.
The company was trading at $7.05 a share, up by $3.95, or 127.4%.
Kodak is the latest company to revive interest in itself and see its shares surge after making an announcement related to blockchain technology, which is 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 blockchain technology 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 the use of their copyrighted images on the internet.
That dovetails with one of the capabilities of blockchains, digital ledgers that can be used to track ownership of digital goods, including intellectual property.
Kodak says its service will continuously crawl the web to keep track of uses of images registered in its system. When it comes across unlicensed uses, the service will help photographers get paid for their work.
Tracking the ownership of artistic works traded and used online could end up being one of the main uses for blockchains in the real world.
It can be difficult for collectors to verify the authenticity of a piece of art, especially those bought online, and for artists to restrict the use of their works or ensure payment for their use.
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 pieces of art it sells, some of which are worth more than $100,000. It depends on its blockchain to collect payment and 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 license their images through KodakOne, they will be paid in KodakCoin, which they can then exchange for dollars.
KodakCoin will go on sale January 31 via a fundraising technique called an initial coin offering, through which the company will sell a set number of coins.
Companies establishing new blockchain-based systems commonly launch cryptocurrencies to serve as a means of exchanging money within those systems. Such alternative cryptocurrencies, however, sometimes see their values spike as investors look to 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.
A beta version of KodakOne will launch in Q4 2018, and a full commercial version will go live in Q2 2019.