Will Kodak’s ICO herald a new era of digital rights management?

Will Kodak’s ICO herald a new era of digital rights management?
Erstwhile photography giant Kodak has just announced an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). Will this help Kodak with its brand revival and bring digital rights management based on blockchain into the mainstream? Shashank Venkat explores

In what is being termed as the new ‘Kodak Moment’, the 130-year old company announced an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) during the recently held CES 2018 event. Eastman Kodak is joining hands with Wenn Digital to launch the blockchain-powered KODAKOne platform where the underlying cryptocurrency is called ‘KODAKCoin’.

The blockchain platform and the photography-based cryptocurrency aim to secure digital image rights and ensure that photographers are rewarded for their hard work. The token, KODAKCoin, will allow photographers to take part in this economy, receive payments and sell their work on a secure blockchain-based KODAKOne ecosystem. The ICO seems a step in the right direction as it helps solve the important problem of digital rights management.

The news was cheered by Wall Street as Kodak shares jumped by 89% after the company announced its intentions of launching an ICO. It is interesting to note that the company had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, and the decline of Kodak was an often-quoted story in business circles as the company failed to transition to the digital economy. It appears that the ICO has indeed given Kodak a new lease of life. Kodak might have missed the boat the first time around, but it seems that the company is all set to make the most of the blockchain revolution which is still at a very nascent stage.

In fact, Kodak is one of the first mainstream companies to go down the ICO route. Kodak’s news follows another big announcement by popular messaging app Telegram which has unveiled its own ICO. There have been reports that subscription ticketing service MoviePass is also eyeing an ICO.

ICOs seem to have become extremely popular vehicles for companies to raise money. Last year alone, blockchain-based startups raised more than $3 billion through ICOs.

However, sceptics have noted that Kodak isn’t the first company to cash in on the cryptocurrency hype. The most infamous story about the blockchain buzz involved Long Island Iced Tea Corporation. The company saw its shares jump by 289% when it simply announced its intentions of exploring opportunities in blockchain and renamed itself Long Blockchain Corporation!

Oddly enough, Kodak is also planning to install bitcoin mining rigs at its New York headquarters. It will give investors a chance to rent the machines and keep a share of the profits. As odd as it may seem, the Kodak ICO has already piqued the interest of investors. Ahead of its planned ICO on 31st January 2018, the company has already raised more than $2 million in the Pre-ICO stage.

The internet may have opened new avenues for photographers to showcase their work, but it has also made establishing copyright of photographs a nightmare. So widespread is the menace, that most people accept that a certain level of copyright breach is unavoidable. Digital rights management is one of those important problems which have been in a limbo for a long time simply because there was no technology to address it. Thanks to proof-of-work and other unique mechanisms such as smart contracts, blockchain technology ensures that people can only trade and use what they own on the platform. In that sense, the KODAKOne platform will indeed have a lot of utility if it sees widespread adoption.

If the platform does what it promises, Kodak may be way ahead of the curve compared to its peers, and it will create significant new revenue opportunities for photographers based on subscriptions and usage-based pricing models. Kodak’s move may also force other blockchain startups to follow in its footsteps, bringing digital asset management right into the mainstream.

What’s your view on the Kodak ICO? Are you going to loosen your purse strings to own some KODAKCoin?