This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Publishing series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and publishing.
In this interview we speak with Askold Romanov, Co-Founder and CPO/CTO at IPStock, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the publishing business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind IPStock? Why and how did you begin?
AR: Over the last six years, IPStock team has become known as a leading solution provider in the images market. In 2013, our team created one of the world’s strongest digital content production studio Macrovector.com which is now globally recognized due to its unique application of advanced technologies including Big Data to vector graphics creation. In 2015, we launched IPStock.com, a Swiss-based and world’s leading cloud service for photographers and creative artists which helps them manage visual digital asset portfolios. We have also launched a marketplace for premium images Vectorplace.com. In September 2018 IPStock has become one of the first companies globally to release an open-ended blockchain ecosystem powered by Smartlicense technology™ designed for visual digital content management, licensing and trading.
2. Please describe your use case and how IPStock uses blockchain:
AR: The main problem today is that the Global Images market has no transparent and handy mechanism to efficiently track, control and manage copyrights of visual digital assets like photographs, illustrations, video footage, and other media content. Due to lack of a transparent visual digital content registry, it’s hard to say if particular work has been already used before or not; which geographical rights does it have and if it has other parts under the copyright or not. The list of possible legal issues could be very long and everyone who uses copyrighted content faces legal risks. Also, the market is dominated by old-fashioned marketplaces (like Shutterstock, Adobe Stock, Getty Images) that charge up to 80% in fees. Artists and final users are suffering from that, but have no other appropriate way to distribute and get the content. This limits market growth and creates different legal and management issues for all market players.
IPStock is focused on changing the current process of visual content management and licensing by using blockchain. In September 2018, we released an open-ended IPStock ecosystem powered by Smartlicense technology™ designed for content creators, consumers, agencies, and marketplaces. It is a brand-new way of licensing visual digital content without the need for traditional agencies and marketplaces, as well as a means to store transactions history and royalties data in a transparent and unalterable way using blockchain technology.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
AR: Each Market Player Benefits.
The blockchain ecosystem we are building will be decentralized and transparent with low transaction expenses giving the following values for all market participants:
- Higher royalties: the content providers will earn more money, better protect their copyrights, manage the whole portfolio in one place but license it via multiple channels around the globe in accordance with local regulations and content provider's preferences.
- More transparency: the consumers who need a creative and copyright-safe content will get an authenticity-proven and cost-efficient access to both non-exclusive and exclusive content with transparent history and tailor-made licensing terms.
- Better focus: connected to the IPStock blockchain agencies will save time and money on building content collections (i.e. we lower market entrance cost) and start to focus on creating great products for their customers.
4. What other blockchain use cases in the publishing industry are you excited about?
AR: Blockchain with its technology of the distributed registry will allow confirming and storing information over the rights of possession of the intellectual property. Chain blocks exclude the possibility of forgery of data and unambiguously indicate the rights of the parties. Smart contracts allow almost instantly carrying out transactions either for sale or lease of licenses. In our opinion, smart contracts can be considered to date as the best way to confirm and verify compliance with the terms of the transaction of any format of intellectual property copyright transfer.
Various estimates show that 80–90% of all online images are being used illegitimately. For instance, by giving bots access to a ledger of images and their history, we can empower them to help us detect copyright infringement online, offer every wrongdoer a proper license, and credit the royalties to the author’s account.
5. Where will IPStock be in five years?
AR: In five years, we believe that we will unite most of the small-to-medium market players into IPStock blockchain ecosystem and Smartlicense technology™will be established as the global visual content licensing standard. And we believe that our solution will significantly change the copyright market landscape as well, and make this market as transparent and efficient as it should be.