Blockchain technology has been tapped for its various applications in record-keeping, be it for digital files or banking-related databases. Can the underlying technology behind bitcoin also be used to streamline intellectual property rights in the music industry?
In particular, a public ledger could introduce significant innovations for copyrights, particularly for derivative work, such as those shared through the app SoundCloud. This app allows users to make remixes of existing songs and share these with their followers, but this has raised the issue of copyright infringement.
Music Sharing and Blockchain Technology
Without any kind of license from the original artist, a SoundCloud user risks infringing on the exclusive rights of the authors of the other works to create derivatives, as well as to distribute, reproduce, publicly perform and display.
However, just like other social media networks that are covered by certain protections like the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act or more commonly referred to as the “Safe Harbor Provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)”, SoundCloud is shielded from infringement liability since it has a policy to address and remove infringing material expeditiously upon sufficient notification and does not not interfere with copyright owners’ technical attempts to protect or identify their copyrighted works.
For most investors in the music industry, this brings up a lot of uncertainties, thereby forcing them to put their money in other industries instead. As it is, SoundCloud is struggling to find additional investment, although other companies like Instagram or YouTube have been acquired by other larger companies like Facebook or Google.
For some, the problem of policing copyright infringement has been one of the major factors weighing on music industry investment, particularly in the online space. Having a public ledger of intellectual property rights which could also apportion the necessary revenues through the use of blockchain technology could address all this.