The intarwebs have been all a flutter over Kodak's recent play in releasing its own cryptocurrency, KODAKCoin. So much of the discussion, however has focussed on the currency, and not KODAKOne, the image rights management blockchain platform. And that is the particularly interesting play, far more than the currency.
Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin in particular, have dominated the last two quarters of 2017 creating a good deal of anticipation leading into 2018. Blockchain's capability of assetizing almost anything has taken a back seat, which is understandable as financial growth does tend to make sexy news; but it's a mistake to overlook.
With KODAKOne, from what they've revealed so far, Kodak is effectively looking to capture creative rights management for images and their legitimate rights-holders to ensure that their IP is not compromised and photographers and agencies properly compensated.
This is a world that has struggled with the anything-digital-is-fair-game culture that has gripped the world since the advent of broadband. The sheer nature of simple copying and replication without apparent consequences has caused no shortage of hollowing out of revenues for creators, so this play is going to prick up many ears.
Assetizing digital objects to protect its use and its value is behind the very essence of blockchain technology. Speculation on how it might be used based on early initiatives has always pointed in this direction, so it's of particular interest now that a major player is putting significant resources behind KODAKOne to manage rights and licencing, putting the power back into the hands of creators thereby democratizing the landscape in a way it hasn't seen in decades.
Of course Kodak has not had a good run over the past decade so generating revenue is going to play a role, hence KODAKCoin, Kodak's cryptocurrency offering, to be released Jan 31, 2018.
If you ask me, I think that KODAKCoin was the second idea that came from KODAKOne. Needing to create new revenue streams it would stand to reason that developing a global currency for digital rights payments could be particularly exciting for shareholders. After all, shares rocketed nearly 120% on the announcement. So why not do both? Play to the nature of your core fanbase by giving them a platform to improve their professional operations and make money at the same time.
The crypto play seems to be aimed at the not unreasonable desire to get paid quickly and as cost effecitvely as possible. This is a slight dig at traditional merchant processing (something we're going to see a lot more of in 2018-19) for its cost and time to process. By providing purchasing capability built into the digital rights platform, Kodak is leveraging the entire operational process : acquire rights, pay for rights, expire right, pay again for rights – neatly tied together in one easy to use ecosystem. At least that's the way they intend for it to play out.
Of course Kodak will take a little of the top for their troubles.
Recently I presented on this exact scenario. Blockchain technology would start to give rise to digital rights as its own sub-category of smart contracts. The means to create a creative work, be it photography, music, movie, written article, and others we haven't considered yet; and allow the creator to assetize its use by wrapping their work in a digital rights bubble object that governs how it's used, when it's used and how the creator gets paid.
Kodak is hoping to position itself to be firmly in the middle of this.