A while age I published an article here, about Eastman Kodak, who was entering the blockchain / cryptocurrency hype … To service photographers and the photo industry, they would establish a world wide copy right register, so photographers could be payed in cryptocurrencies. As the New York Times stated in his January 30, 2018 article: “This month, Kodak lent its name to a digital currency called KodakCoin, which is billed as “a photo-centric cryptocurrency to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.” The basic idea behind KodakCoin is to use the blockchain to help photographers manage their collections by creating permanent, immutable records of ownership. The company also struck a licensing deal for a Bitcoin-mining computer called the Kodak KashMiner, which allows users to generate their own cryptocurrency. Kodak’s stock rose more than 200 percent following the announcements, and has not fallen much since.”
Although the idea is initially a good one, and it might benefit the market and individual photographers, some questions were raised about the details of the program … Turns out it isn’t even a full Kodak project at all … Kodak has just a couple of percent share in the project, which is initialized by a somewhat vague, penny stock entrepreneur, Mr. Cameron Chell … In the New York Times article a couple of interesting questions were raised, unfortunately remaining without any satisfactory answers by Kodak and the people involved … And these are not the only valid remarks, that raise eyebrows and remain unsolved for now …
This sincerely diminishes my enthusiasm about the Eastman Kodak project, and blockchain technology in general … It just doesn’t seem trustworthy anymore … At least not in this, specific case …
Photography dinosaur Kodak steps into a hype with a new, crypto currency: the KokakCoin … It gets around in the industry, raising all kinds of questions …
Kodak will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform. With KodakCoin, participating photographers are invited to take part in a new economy for photography, receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, and for both professional and amateur photographers, sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform. KODAKOne platform provides continual web crawling in order to monitor and protect the IP of the images registered in the KODAKOne system. Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, the KODAKOne platform can efficiently manage the post-licensing process in order to reward photographers. Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke stated: “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 claims, that the platform will offer:
Image Registration. Provides immutable proof of ownership and enables member to take advantage of the platforms wider services.
Rights Management. Every license is documented by a smart contract on the blockchain which confirms the copyrights and licensing terms and conditions of the associated images.
Transparent Accounting. Receive royalty payments instantly via a smart accounting and reporting system. Community members don’t need a separate accounting system as all payments and accounting information is saved on the blockchain.
Community Marketplace. Our marketplace enables coin holders to buy, sell and book products and services such as flights, hotels, models, venues and studios with their coins. The marketplace will also create kickstarter opportunities for startups and service companies.
Distribution Platform. KodakOne is building a distribution platform for rights cleared images. On this distribution platform buyers (licensee) and licensors can buy/sell trade images based on the licensors licensing terms and conditions.
Post Licensing (Legal Enforcement). KodakOne provides continual web crawling in order to protect the IP of its members. Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, KodakOne can efficiently manage the post-licensing process.
Image Tracking. Community members can track usage of their photos and use these insights for more efficient and effective marketing of their assets.
Instant Payment. smart contracting payments are executed instantly as all payments will be made in Kodak Coin.
Still a lot has to be explained about this initiative. What is a Kodak Coin worth in terms or Euro’s? Will it be continually fluctuating? Will the value change between the time the customer makes a payment and the time the photographer uses it to actually buy something? How does the photographer buy groceries with a Kodak Coin? Will photographers only be able to transact business with others who are willing to accept Kodak Coins for the products and services they provide? How will usage fees be established? Will there be a schedule of fees for certain uses? Will photographers have to accept those fees or not participate? Will the licensing be RF or RM? Will each photographer be able to set his own fees? Will there need to be direct communication between the photographer and the buyer for most sales and, if so, how will that inhibit sales given the current ways image licensing is conducted?
And a few more questions: what percentage will KodakOne take of sales? They will have to get something for the service they are providing and presumably a lot considering how hot investors think this investment is. (Kodak shares rocketed up more than 120 per cent on news of the KodakCoin’s release.) How will KodakOne get a significant, diverse collection of the images that are in demand? Why would any photographer give their images to KodakOne exclusively? Big risk. If they put their images with KodakOne non-exclusively then the only sales KodakOne will record are the sales made through KodakOne. Potentially, there will be a huge number of other legal uses out there that Kodak can’t track including all the uses made worldwide prior to actually launching KodakOne. In order to do any legal enforcement, they will have to come back to the photographer to determine if the use was authorized or not. How will this marketplace get instant credibility and attention from image buyers? Getty Images, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock currently control 65% to 70% of the worldwide market. Why will customer suddenly switch to Kodak?
My personal and favorite question: “Do I need to switch from my present agencies, and license all of my images (made in the past ten years or so) through Kodak Coin? Thing is: we’re all going to have to learn about cryptocurrencies and blockchains. And it’s worth to stay on top of this new development. However, it’s way to soon to make final decisions. For now I am curious on how Kodak implements this idea, and how existing industry adapts to this new development.