Thursday, 22 February 2018


Blockchain - still a buzzword but could it save the music industry?

A very recent post over on our favourite companion blog IPKat (Kats are, after all, mini-Leos) discusses blockchain in the context of what blockchain can do for IP. A very nice quote from the piece: "Blockchain need not be limited to patents; it might also be used in the field of copyright-protected works... [B]lockchain could provide a platform for the registration of copyright transfers  (not otherwise registered) facilitating parties interested in entering into a licensing agreement, thereby significantly reducing transaction costs." 

Well, that statement got this once-Leo (i.e., once a big Kat but now blogging more as a giraffe) thinking about another article, here, that is written by a musician (Imogen Heap) and similarly calls for the use of blockchain to help the music industry. Citing the lack of a global registry of works, Heap believes that blockchain would enable simplified licensing schemes and would streamline operations of CMOs and others in the industry.

In fact Heap tested the concept, releasing a song (Tiny Human, which this blogger admits to having never heard) and using smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain platform to automatically distribute royalty payments to all those involved in making the song. It seems this was a success, albeit on a small scale.

My favorite quote from Heap is as true in the blockchain context as it has been true for so many other technological advancements (think radio, cassette tapes, MP3 players, etc.): "The larger players in the industry just need to have faith that they will make more money by doing the right thing — which would lead to fair remuneration, transparency, and a multitude of new business opportunities for artists."

There seems to be no limit to the variety of applications for which blockchain is now cited as an industry-revolutionising development. Certainly CMOs in this giraffe's neck of the woods (boo!) could use help in developing transparent, efficient, and fair collection/distribution of royalties - the recent change in CMOs licensed in Kenya is evidence (see here and here). Is blockchain the right technology for this challenge?  We may soon see...



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