Wemark, a VC-backed startup has launched an alpha version of its digital content marketplace on a blockchain, aiming to give creators an opportunity to transact with the customers directly. The platform release happened before the company ’s token generation event, taking place in July-August 2018.
The internet is much about sharing digital content nowadays, such as photos, music, and video. All it is made by thousands, or even millions of creators, and no less people buy their content.
However, photographers and other professionals have to sell their content through centralized platforms which control the distribution of digital content. It means that creators are usually forced to share their revenues, control, and most of their rights over the content they create with distribution giants like Getty Images or Shutterstock. This control often results in the content creator receiving only a small portion of the actual price paid by the customer.
Wemark was founded by Tai Kaish, Pavel Elkind and Roy Meirom . The company is developing a solution which could remove intermediaries between creators and customers of digital content for the benefit for them both. One of the key features is to decentralize the whole licensing process. From accepting payments and providing access to the content, to the registration of licenses and distribution of revenue, all using a blockchain-based system which isn’t controlled by any 3rd party.
To realize their idea, the company has raised over $1 million in equity financing from Palo Alto’s NFX Fund, Elevator Fund, Sarona ventures and private investors.
Now, Wemark has launched an alpha version of its curated marketplace of commercial images with the help of partners – including top-selling image producers such as Monkey Business, Caia Image, and CAVAN. They will make their collections available through Wemark’s new licensing protocol. Although not all images have been uploaded to the marketplace yet, Wemark’s collection currently contains over 1 million photos, and the number is quickly increasing.
The platform utilizes blockchain, which allows direct trade between content creators and customers. “Digital content licensing is a perfect use-case for smart contracts which facilitate payments and licensing directly between creators and customers”, says Tai Kaish, Wemark’s CEO.
Wemark’s licensing protocol accepts payments directly from customers, registers a license and automatically distributes the funds to the photographer.
As the Wemark representative commented, stock photography is the most centralized vertical in the digital content industry, where major players keep up to 85 percent of revenues. The Wemark in its turn has a fixed fee of 15 percent for payments, which means the lion share is taken by the photographer.
“Wemark’s blockchain-based marketplace allows creators to benefit most of the advantages of distributing their content directly, while still providing customers with a single platform to access all the content in the network. And of course, the confidence and stability of licensing their content with a system that cannot increase their fees or change their content pricing without their consent”, added Kaish.
According to a Wemark’s roadmap, the marketplace will not be limited to just photos – support for other types of content such as illustrations, vectors, video, stock music and 3D models is claimed to be added, starting Q1 2019.
Besides investors, Wemark also has attracted professionals in the photo industry as advisors. The list includes founder of Picasa Lars Perkins, co-founder of Forbes.com Miguel Forbes, and former Shutterstock executives Keren Sachs – director of content development – and Michael C. Lesser – vice president and general counsel.
“The world’s leading content providers have entrusted us with their photos before we have even licensed an image. They believe in what we are building and the future of the content licensing on the blockchain. We are honored and invigorated by the support from the creative community”, said Keren Sachs.
The marketplace launch allows potential customers to experience the full platform, except the licensing and downloading of images which can only be done with Wemark tokens (WMK).
WMK will become available after the company’s token generation event, scheduled for July-August 2018.