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Sony Develops Blockchain System for Digital Rights Management

Entertainment behemoth Sony Corporation announced Monday the development of a blockchain-based tool for the management of the rights to intellectual property such as music, videos, and written works.

Sony: Blockchain ‘Lends Itself to Rights Management’

The immutability of the blockchain makes it perfect for the recording and storage of creative rights, Sony claims. According to Computer Business Review, the company already has a similar system in place specifically for authenticating, sharing, and rights management of educational data.

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That system was announced last year and is built on IBM’s blockchain, according to the company’s official release. It uses IBM’s cloud computing service and blockchain network Hyperledger Fabric 1. No technical details for its rights management system were revealed in Sony’s Monday release, but it may be built in a similar fashion.

Sony claims its system fills a void in the realm of rights management where many people are creating and releasing creative content themselves online, but the rights to that content are still managed in an outdated way, stating:

“Today, advances in technologies for digital content creation allow anyone to broadcast and share content, but the rights management of that content is still carried out conventionally by industry organizations or the creators themselves, necessitating a more efficient way of managing and demonstrating ownership of copyright-related information for written works.”

The new system will include features that record the date and time and electronic data gets created in a “difficult to falsify way,” as well as automatically verify the rights generated by a piece of written work on boot-up.

The Changing World of Digital Rights Management

Sony made $870 million in profit on music sales alone in the past financial year and recently changed its approach for paying royalties, reportedly compensating partner labels and artists from its Spotify shareholding this past summer. This new rights management system appears to be a mother bid by Sony to stay ahead of an entertainment landscape constantly changing in the wake of increased online access and individual capability.

Near the close of the release, Sony said it was considering commercializing its blockchain system for the management of educational data, saying of the system:

“This newly developed system can be utilized to manage educational materials and other forms of content used in the field of education, and Sony Global Education is considering its possible commercialization as a service.”

The company also mentioned expanding into Virtual Reality and audiobooks.

Other companies are exploring decentralized ways to pay musicians for their work, removing the middlemen of big names like Apple and Google to allow more of the profits to reach artists. For example, Ethereum-based London company essenceProtocol is built to compensate musicians based on how many times their work gets redistributed by its users.

Cover Photo by Marcela Laskoski on Unsplash

Posted In: Culture, Technology

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John Bogna

John Bogna is a freelance writer and journalist with seven years of experience covering everything from arts to tech.

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