Ascribe.io is working to help usher art into the digital age with blockchain-based authentication for digital projects. The company has been in production since February 2015, beta since fall 2014, and alpha since late 2013.
The startup has been working closely with artists, galleries, museums, conferences and others in the art ecosystem. Artists have used the Ascribe platform in various ways. MAK Vienna, a 150 year-old art institution, purchased a piece of blockchain-ascribed digital art by artist Harm van den Dorpel.
Artists have used Ascribe.io to try to re-imagine the true potential of digital art: Bitforms NYC sold ascribed digital work by artist Jonathan Monaghan. Cointemporary is an online art gallery that has also sold blockchain-ascribed digital art for bitcoins. The artwork featured by that website is by artists Valentin Ruhry, Harm van den Dorpel and Dan Periovschi, among others. The Berlin Art Prize saw 349 artists ascribe 598 art works to the block chain.
Ascribe’s open-sourced ownership protocol can be viewed here. The company employs in-house art experts and copyright lawyers. The firm supports the basics of supporting, registering and transferring ownership, as well as the essential ownership actions such as consignment and loans. Indeed, the first blockchain secured digital art ownership swap was with Ascribe.
“We love how people are finding new ways to use the Ascribe platform. It makes sense that people will want to transfer, swap and share digital property,” Bruce Pon, founder and CEO at ascribe GmbH, tells CCN.
Ascribe.io recently made a seed funding announcement with top investors Earlybird (Germany), Digital Currency Group (USA) and Freelands Ventures (UK). Earlybird is Germany’s premiere VC, and Digital Currency Group has invested in over 50 bitcoin startups around the globe. Ascribe plans to use the funding to continue winning over users and building out their platform, and has released a white paper on ownership using the blockchain with one of the original architects of the internet, David Holtzman. Holtzman ran the DNS of the late 1990’s.
“We use the blockchain as a notary to timestamp the registration of a file or digital asset,” Pon tells CCN. “The blockchain supports copyright practices by giving immutable proof of the existence of a digital work the moment it’s ascribed on our platform.”
“We think that it should be easier for creators to license and commercialize their digital IP,” he adds. “There’s a huge amount of latent value in digital content that is waiting to be unlocked. More and more value is moving digital – and we are all becoming creators – so it’s important to solve.”
Ascribe.io would love to see digital marketplaces spring up to give creators more options to market and sell their work. The Ascribe.io team also believes creators should be able to define unique editions to create digital scarcity and incentivize buyers to pay for authentic content.
“We’d love to have banks and insurance companies to consider digital IP as an asset class, that can be banked and used as collateral,” Pon says.
We think that anyone should be able to do this, not just big corporations with teams of lawyers.
Chris Messina posted about Ascribe.io on Product Hunt. Many companies are using Product Hunt as a launchpad, including rapper Snoop Dogg. “Investors use it to look for promising companies, and consumers look for interesting products there – so it’s nice to be profiled and to finish in the top 10 for that day,” Pon says. Pon has interesting insights into recent Adobe stock news regarding sales channels in Photoshop.
“It opens up the concept that you can conceive, design and then sell your intellectual property directly out of the software,” he tells CCN. “I think Adobe is prescient in seeing that intellectual property can be more effectively commercialized if creators are given the tools and channels to do it. Ascribe is complimentary. If we can integrate into Adobe’s software, we can also support the IP registration, handle the license management and give visibility on where it gets used.”
Not only has the Ascribe.io team looked to solve this problem. For example, entrepreneur and artist Stephan Vogler’s novel block chain technology inspired license seeks to create a system of rights to copyrighted works in digital form.
“Copyright is frustratingly localized, yet we live in a digital world where ideas are global and spread at the speed of light,” Pon says. “Ideas can be perfectly copied and instantaneously transmitted – and copyright hasn’t kept up. We need to give creators more tools to globally register, set license terms and gain visibility on their intellectual property.” Ultimately, the point is to put money in the pockets of the content creators.
People need to see that for everything they make – a photo, a song, an article – easier copyright and licensing can open up new ways to earn money.
The answer to unlocking this potential is to decentralize, according to Pon, who believes that Bitcoin will rewrite daily life for people all across the globe. “Decentralization opens up so many opportunities to rethink the way we register intellectual property, process payments, store private data, and run our governments,” Pon opines.
“It’s an innovation that allows us to simplify transactions across borders but at the same time has the flexibility to handle complex contracts and conditions. It’s an elegant solution that is going to bring massive changes to our society,” Pon says. Ascribe.io’s goal for the future is to spread the word and let people know that they can claim and control their intellectual property.
“There’s a lot of work to be done,” he adds.
Featured image from Shutterstock.