By all accounts, we appear to be in the early stages of a classic “hype cycle” about the potential for uses of blockchain technology. Careful analysts need to filter out that noise, but, as with all technology bubbles, there are blockchain skeptics, and blockchain enthusiasts.
I am somewhere in the middle — currency speculation, in my opinion, is nothing but a big distraction; it is improving information services that I am interested in. And I’m most interested in technologies that show promise in bringing more accuracy and efficiency to the worlds of copyright and licensing.
So, does blockchain technology show meaningful promise for real-world copyright and licensing applications? Let’s take a closer look.
What are blockchains, and why should I care?
What is a blockchain? Why are so many startups and techno-pundits going on and on about it? What sort of problems can it solve, and who has these problems? And, more importantly, what is it good for (in the sense of being useful)?
Simply and practically put, in this context a block is a unique number, derived mathematically through computing. This number is applied for a single use, which typically would be as the root identifier for a digital work of any sort. Examples of a work protected by such a blockchain would include a document (PDF) or the source code for a program, or a digital image, or anything in a fixed form represented in ones and zeroes.
Once established as the root identifier, any changes to the digital work…