Blockchain & Copyright Law

Apr 21, 2023

FF Board Chair Marta Belcher and Advisor Kristin Smith discuss use cases for blockchain in art and music

Imagine writing a computer program that allows a user playing a song on their device to automatically transfer a millionth of a cent to the songwriter and a millionth of a cent to the singer for every second of a song that a user plays. This would be vastly better than the current way artists and copyright holders are compensated for their work, and smart contract technology makes this possible.

At the Copyright Society’s 2021 Midwinter Meeting, Filecoin Foundation Board Chair Marta Belcher and Foundation Advisor Kristin Smith joined Alanna Gombert, head of Identity at ConsenSys Mesh, and Adrien Stern, CEO of Reveel Technology, for a deep dive into blockchain technology and how it can be used to compensate artists for their work.

Smith, who serves as executive director of the Blockchain Association, opened the discussion with a blockchain primer, using Filecoin as an example of how smart contracts work.

Stern, whose company Reveel automates copyright, metadata, and legal information in music tracks, said many musicians are excited about the benefits of this technology to clearly label and attribute contributions to their work.

Blockchain has also been increasingly used by visual artists, explained Alanna Gombert, adding that some artists are experimenting with NFTs, which stands for non-fungible tokens. “An NFT is a digital asset on a chain. You can trade it, but you can’t change it. Which means you can track an item across its lifecycle,” she explained. “Anything that can be tagged can be put on chain and tracked.”

The Copyright Society is a nonprofit devoted to copyright awareness and education. The session will be available online for members to stream.