Blockchain and the Rights Management Renaissance

Mediachain Labs blog, one year ago:

The problem is simply that no central database exists to keep track of information about music. Specifically, there are two types of information about a piece of music that are critically important: who made it and who owns the rights to it. Right now, this information is fiendishly difficult to track down, to the great detriment of artists, music services and consumers alike.

If we want to enable maximum value flow and creation, we’ve got to solve the data problem first. Given that context, we should view a blockchain solution as a simple metaphor for shared, networked, media metadata.

Platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud have an incentive to find a reliable, long-term solution to the fractured data problem in order to avoid future lawsuits. Spotify seems to be leading the charge, having recently committed to “fix the global problem of bad publishing data once and for all”. They also have the scale and technical resources to ensure the availability and operation of the network.

Mediachain Labs is leading the open source development of Mediachain, a decentralized data network that aims to make it simple for organizations, creators, and developers to share and reuse information about creative works. As a shared metadata network for music, Mediachain offers a uniform interface to data contributed by multiple participants with no central authority. Because Mediachain is open source and decentralized, all participants remain in control of their data and there is no central point of failure.

TechCrunch, today:

Spotify has acquired the Brooklyn-based blockchain startup Mediachain Labs, whose team will join the company’s office in New York where they will work on developing better technology for connecting artists and other rights holders with the tracks hosted on Spotify’s service.

This is an area where Spotify can use some help, as it turns out. Last year, Spotify settled a licensing dispute with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the U.S. over unpaid royalties. Spotify had claimed that it didn’t pay out the royalties because it simply didn’t have the necessary data to help it figure out whose claims were legitimate, or even how to locate the parties. It said it lacked an authoritative database that covered all existing music rights. This opens it up to litigation, which is obviously not the ideal way of managing these payments.

With Mediachain, Spotify potentially has a solution on its hands – but instead of building out a centralized database with music rights information, it looks like it will build a decentralized one. Mediachain says it will turn over the technology it had already built to the open source community as it moves to Spotify.

There’s this announcement – and the dotBlockchain Music Project’s recent alliance with SOCAN, Songtrust, CD Baby, and FUGA – and ASCAP, SACEM, and PRS for Music collaborating on a blockchain-powered “shared decentralized database of music work metadata with real-time update and tracking capabilities” … could we be on the cusp of a rights management renaissance?

Previously and Previously.

Update: CMU Daily once again with the definitive take:

How do you convince the music industry that you’re taking the data issues that continue to hinder the streaming business seriously? Tell em you’re going to fix it via the blockchain and ‘boom’, no one knows what you’re taking about, but boy are they impressed.

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