Whatever your opinion on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you must give your editors points for ambition.
Instead of being content with a Copyright Act for the "Dot-com" or "connected century" decade, the legislators of the 105th Congress of the United States have opted for the grandeur of the Digital Millennium. The twenty years passed by the law have truly transformed the world – the Internet now dominates the world economy, leaping from our computers to our phones, our video game systems, our machines, even our dishwashers and washing machines. The 56k telephone line has made its way to cable and fiber; before Wi-Fi and 4G left the Internet free of its cables. The advent of the Internet has required bold legislation, but it seems that almost every new innovation since 1998 has led to new ways of violating copyright law.
But could this emergency of blockchain technology present a solution in the digital millennium?
Should copyright law be extended?
Google received over half a billion DMCA "removal requests" in 2016; while some DMCA requests aimed at the correct use of copyrighted material, many millions of removal requests involved genuine copyright violations. In some corners of the Internet, copyright law has a bad reputation. Generally, it is misunderstood as an instrument of institutional outperformance, not as a guarantor of individual rights. While it is true that the most famous digital copyright cases involved musicians or movie pirates sued by record companies or film companies, copyright issues go far beyond the company rooms.
What is a "Copyright?"
In the United States, copyright adheres to the work "when it is created and fixed in a tangible form that is directly perceptible or with the aid of a machine or device." The words that you, the creator write, the drawings you pencil, the photographs you make and the videos you record – all have copyright protections, regardless of whether you have registered them or not at the government office.
If a photo or song that has been published becomes viral without proper attribution to its creator, that person's copyright has probably been violated. The copyright law applies to "little ones" like you and me, and not just to Behemoth record companies and film studios.
Digital files are reproducible – this is what makes them so useful and also what makes copyright infringement, such as a movie from a studio or your photography, so easy. If everything is so easily duplicable, how can you properly track the copyright?
Tracing of intellectual property, correctly
Most Internet users are not familiar with the Blockchain, and those who recognize the term often associate it with its most popular (until today), Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies. The beauty of blockchain technology is the fact that its potential allows decentralized ledgers to track, record and unambiguously agree on various types of information. Cryptocurrencies work only because they allow secure digital transactions: they can not be cloned or replicated and each transaction is marked with a unique and traceable identifier.
Intellectual property is progressively turning into digital property: the Blockchain can therefore improve the management of digital rights, allowing a stamped and immutable proof of paternity. Imagine the potential for this technology to have the ability to track copyrighted works and ensure that creators receive the fair share of every entry from their work.
Myogenia of Imogen Heap
Take a Grammy-winning musician, Imogen Heap, as an example. You are an artist who expects Blockchain to simplify the copyright issues of artists. Its foundation, Mycelia, helps musicians to track their work on the Internet "to see that commercial, ethical and technical standards are destined to increase exponentially the innovation for the musical services of the future." And Heap is not the only one to have an eye on Blockchain as a means of recording and managing music copyright.
Last year, the giant streaming Spotify, which had to pay millions of fines for unpaid royalties, acquired a company called Mediachain for the insight that the blockchain implementation would help with the. attribution and aided their preservation of royalty.
Since the days of Napster and Limewire, music has been at the forefront of innovation and controversy over digital copyright, so it's not surprising to watch the intrusion of blockchain into music. Blockchain's entry into the world of art is more unusual.
In the spring of 2018, the founder of Ethereum Vitalik Buterin sat for an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, one of the leading curators of contemporary art; in the summer, Obrist held a one-day Christie seminar on blockchain. Large fairs such as Art Basel habitually include blockchain events, and some artists are experimenting with the sale of art via blockchain. Both individual artists like Eve Sussman and institutions like Christie's are exploring the potential of the blockchain, which suggests that the art world will find many applications for this new technology.
Did you hear the technological waves?
We are only two decades in the Digital Millennium, so it is not a shock that we have not yet solved the problem of copyright on the Internet. When new technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality gain prominence and reach public acceptance, there may be little doubt that additional questions about copyright arise. While blockchain may not be the answer to all these problems, it is a tool that tomorrow's Internet architects would do well to continue researching and expanding.