Kodak's Baffling Blockchain Plan For Image Rights Management

January 10, 2018 12:42 AM

On Tuesday, the company announced KODAKOne, a blockchain-based platform that aims to assist photographers with the registration and licensing of their work, along with a token offering. Some are questioning the strategy.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, and to investors in Eastman Kodak, a blockchain is apparently worth about $100 million. At least, that’s what one would surmise since shares in the company nearly doubled after Kodak and WENN Digital, in a licensing partnership, announced the launch of the KODAKOne image rights management platform and its accompanying token, KODAKCoin.

With other companies changing names and undertaking reverse mergers to capitalize on the blockchain hype, Kodak’s crypto moment might deserve further scrutiny.

This announcement has left us with a plethora of questions:

1.      Will Kodak own and operate this platform? Has the company simply licensed its name for usage? Which blockchain will it use?

2.      With the internet in its current form, what sort of enforceability is there for image rights management? Can this platform be profitable?

3.      Why is the company undertaking a token offering ( ICO)? Did the Securities and Exchange Commission provide an official exemption, or has the company determined for itself that it should be exempt from SEC guidelines under „Regulation 506 (c)“? And, is a token offering really necessary?


For now, the KodakCoin website only displays a message about the impending launch and thanks visitors for their patience. The expected launch time has not been provided but a token offering is planned for the end of January. Perhaps this can be interpreted as a last-ditch effort at maintaining relevance.

After all, Kodak has been much maligned for its botched transition to digital photography. The company even filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2012, and a June 2016 article from the World Economic Forum proclaimed, „Kodak invented the digital camera – then killed it.“

In a release, the companies explained how the platform is expected to function:

„Utilizing blockchain technology, the KODAKOne platform will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform. With KODAKCoin, participating photographers are invited to take part in a new economy for photography, receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, and for both professional and amateur photographers, sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform. KODAKOne platform provides continual web crawling in order to monitor and protect the IP of the images registered in the KODAKOne system. Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, the KODAKOne platform can efficiently manage the post-licensing process in order to reward photographers.“

Kodak also apparently unveiled a second part to its perplexing blockchain strategy today at the CES tech show in Las Vegas: bitcoin mining. According to the BBC, customers will lease mining capacity on the Kodak KashMiner, and the resulting bitcoins will be split between the company and customers. It’s unclear how profitable this strategy will be in the long run for either.

ETHNews spoke with a representative from Kodak’s PR company, Weber Shandwick, who confirmed the miner’s existence. As for the miner, it appears that Kodak did license its name for usage. We will update this article with additional information after speaking with members of the Kodak KashMiner team.

Matthew is a writer with a passion for emerging technology. Prior to joining ETHNews, he interned for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as well as the OECD. He graduated cum laude from Georgetown University where he studied international economics. In his spare time, Matthew loves playing basketball and listening to podcasts. He currently lives in Los Angeles. Matthew is a full-time staff writer for ETHNews.

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