For better or worse, copyright law hasn’t changed much in the United States even as technology has made it far easier for people to steal or “appropriate” your work. But a new service called Blockai thinks it can help by using something called the bitcoin blockchain.
The blockchain is the public database used to verify the world’s bitcoin transactions, and Blockai coopts it to help you register and protect your copyright, absolutely free. It’s not meant to be a replacement for registering your work with the Copyright Office, of course, but if you can’t afford to officially register, Blockai might be the next best thing.
One one level, Blockai looks kind of like an online photo sharing site: it lets you create a profile and fill it by claiming your work online. But that’s where the similarities end.
When you register a photograph on Blockai, the company automatically writes a permanent, unalterable timestamp on the bitcoin blockchain and provides you with a “proof of publishing” certificate. You can then use this certificate as proof of publication when you find one of your registered photos is being used without permission.
It’s not going to hold the same weight in court as an official registration with the Copyright Office, which is why CEO Nathan Lands says, “In America, if you want to win money in a lawsuit, you still need to register with the Government.” But it will serve as more concrete proof of ownership that might just help you settle a few infringement claims without having to go to court in the first place.
And speaking of infringement, Blockai’s last trick is that it helps you find that too. It scours the Web to find uses of your work and shares the matches publicly through your Blockai profile. “We believe the public matches could help by publicly shaming copyright violators,” Lands told us.
It’s not a perfect system, but then again neither is copyright law (not by a long shot). So if you’re intrigued by this new way to protect your work, head over to the Blockai website where you can sign up and start claiming your photos right away.