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Blockchain in Art: Sotheby’s Won’t Be Able to Sell Fakes and Universal Music Group Will Be Left Without Work

Blockchain can replace antiquaries, record labels and the United States Copyright Office. Read the article to learn how it will happen, what problems will be solved by the decentralized ledger and what benefits artists, listeners and collectors will get.

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Cryptoassetsrank.com Published on Jul 16, 2018
'Blockchain in Art: Sotheby’s Won’t Be Able to Sell Fakes and Universal Music Group Will Be Left Without Work' article image

Blockchain can replace antiquaries, record labels and the United States Copyright Office. Read the article to learn how it will happen, what problems will be solved by the decentralized ledger and what benefits artists, listeners and collectors will get.

Violation of intellectual property rights

How is it now? According to the Copyright Law of 1976, the Berne Convention and the Universal Copyright Convention, the copyright protection in the USA is automatic — copyright appears as soon as the work has been created. In practice, to protect copyright for your creation, you need to register it at the United States Copyright Office. Both unregistered and registered works are often plagiarized. Here are some of the major plagiarism scandals in rock music:

  • The opening riff in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” is very similar to the Spirit’s “Taurus”;
  • Deep Purple created “Black Night” based on the riff of Ricky Nelson’s “Summertime”;
  • The Eagles are suspected of copying their famous song “Hotel California” from Jethro Tull’s composition “We Used to Know”.

How will it be with blockchain? Musicians, photographers and artists will be able to upload their works to blockchain. Since the platform is open and decentralized, the copyright data will be available for examination and nobody will be able to change it without authorization. Uploading to blockchain will become an alternative for copyright registration.

The first achievements. The founders of Mediachain offered the artists a possibility to upload their content to blockchain and to protect it from theft and plagiarism. The platform contains data about photos and pictures, information about the authors and the date of creation. Also, in Mediachain backward search is possible, which means that in the system you can find the author by his or her photo or picture.

Mediachain platform flowchart

Sale of music via intermediaries

How is it now? The performers cooperate with record labels that record music, promote and sell the recordings. Apart from the Big Three — Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group — independent record labels work on the market. But it is difficult for the novices to fight their way through and to sell their tracks even to indie labels. The companies can reject them or offer a reduced price. That makes it difficult for the new performers to enter the market.

How will it be with blockchain? A blockchain-based music sharing platform will replace the middlemen. Performers will be able to upload their tracks to the service that works on a P2P basis. The fans will have an opportunity to buy music directly from their favorite performers via the platform. Cryptocurrencies, for example, Ethereum, bitcoin and internal tokens of the platform, will be used for payments.

The first achievements. The developers of the Bittunes platform that appeared in 2015 offered a P2P file hosting. The performers upload their files to the music ecosystem and share them with the fans directly. Here any user can buy part of the rights for his or her recordings and get profit from their sale.

The developers are preparing to launch Bittunes 2.0 and are conducting an ICO

Unfair pricing for songs and paintings

How is it now? The income of artists depends on the critics’ reviews and the interest of large galleries, the income of photographers — on publications in famous editions and participation in exhibitions. The income of songwriters from music distribution is defined by record labels or agents of the stars who buy the tracks. The price of the compositions depends to a large extent not on the fans’ interest but on the middlemen and critics.

How will it be with blockchain? The authors will be able to upload their compositions to a blockchain platform where the fans will look at them and listen to them. The system will assess the demand for the work, compare the interest of the users with the parameters of other content and the average market interest. Based on this data, a smart contract will calculate the profit that the author will get.

The first achievements. The founders of the Stem startup offered the authors an opportunity to upload their videos and music on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and Soundcloud, to monitor the statistics of composition playbacks and to earn. The music streaming platform works under smart contracts that assess the demand for the compositions among the listeners and calculate fair payments.

How the Stem platform works

Fakes and stolen collectibles

How is it now? The authenticity of paintings and other works of art is determined by the experts, fine art experts and antiquaries. Sometimes specialists have not enough experience and mistake a fake for the original, or when the authenticity of a work of art has been verified, it is stolen and replaced with a fake. Even the Sotheby’s auction house, a giant of art industry, is not secure from mistakes. For example, in 2011 a fake painting “An unknown man” thought to be by Frans Hals was sold from the auction, and in 2017 — a painting “Saint Jerome” attributed to Parmigianino but now proven to be a forgery.

How will it be with blockchain? With the help of blockchain technology the developers will create a unified database — an art trading platform with the information about authentic works of art. Hundreds of independent experts will be able to make the assessment of authenticity and the decision will be taken based on consensus. Nobody  will be able to forge this information or to change the data about the owner of a painting or a statue.

The first achievements. The Verisart founders offer online certification of works of art in blockchain. With the help of this platform the artists and owners of paintings will be able to verify their authenticity. The system will be able to replace the middlemen who at present ensure the authenticity and clean history of previous art distribution.

Description of the Verisart online certification system

Problems with purchase of tickets

How is it now? The fans who have bought tickets to a concert are at risk of not getting to it. It can happen if:

  • the ticket office turns out to be fraudulent and sells unexisting tickets;
  • there is a failure in the intermediary’s system and more tickets are sold than there actually are;
  • the buyers publish the photos of the tickets on Instagram or Twitter and the swindlers steal their unique codes.

How will it be with blockchain? In a decentralized ledger you will be able to buy the original tickets without any middlemen and immediately protect your right to them. At the time of purchase unique codes or ticket numbers will be assigned to the buyer and nobody else will be able to use them or to change the data in the blockchain.

The first achievements. The founders of crypto.tickets sell the tickets to concerts via a decentralized ledger. According to them, the sale scheme solves the main problems of the market: the sale of unexisting tickets, ticket forgery and speculation on further resale.

How the platform crypto.tickets works

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