Access Copyright, Canada’s Reproduction Rights Organization outside Quebec, has recently launched Prescient, its innovation lab. Prescient is dedicated to exploring the future of rights management and content monetization through emerging technologies such as blockchain and AI. They tell us more about their project and where they see risks and opportunities for publishers.
The first Internet era provided incredible access to content, but compensation fell short as rightsholders saw analogue dollars translate into digital pennies. As blockchain rebuilds the Internet, creators and rightsholders have a unique opportunity to build new ecosystems that will help them receive fair compensation when their work is used.
Last year, Access Copyright successfully completed a proof of concept (PoC) using blockchain technology for peer-to-peer book sales and the automated distribution of royalties to rightsholders. While the PoC clearly demonstrated the new frontiers blockchain can open for creators, it also revealed its shortcomings.
The anonymity of blockchain transactions reinforces the need for correct attribution, i.e. making sure the correct rightsholders are compensated in the transaction. Otherwise, we risk cementing the Internet’s current problems (piracy and lack of compensation to rightsholders, to name but two) into future blockchain ecosystems.
If the rights information is not reliable, everything that follows cannot be trusted. Ultimately, trusted and authoritative attribution will help creators realize the promise of blockchain.
Through Prescient, Access Copyright is addressing this problem by developing a blockchain-powered open, transparent and auditable distributed ledger that will reliably and accurately connect a creative work with its lawful creator and rights owner.