Today, data and creative products are one of the most precious elements of anyone’s digital footprint. In a time when more data is generated, extracted, and aggregated, the matters of security and copyright loom large, requiring urgent solutions.
Copyright, for instance, is growing in importance in this digital era. On the Internet, where an intellectual product is generated continuously, it is essential to preserve one’s ownership and rights along with their benefits from monetization. Getting one’s intellectual labor stolen or improperly redistributed can be disastrous.
The owner of an original electronic product can reap all these benefits - provided they have backed up the evidence of its creation. Timestamped documents are now the norm in supplying evidence of ownership in an environment where any text, picture, meme, video, or other creation can be tweaked and reposted for traffic and monetization.
Consider one heated debate in the crypto space - that of Satoshi Nakamoto. Almost everyday there are people claiming to be the real Satoshi Nakamoto, though they always fail to present adequate evidence. No pretender has ever provided believably time-stamped documents to prove the probability that they created Bitcoin.
Authors and creators are aware of the pitfalls of proving ownership of the digital copy. Unfortunately, proving digital ownership is not a trivial task, and it is such a problem that even academics have tried to tackle it. The simplest thing an author can do is send a copy of the document to themselves, to make the email’s timestamp known.
This method is not foolproof, however. Malicious actors could try to spoof the date to present evidence of earlier ownership and activity for any digital file. Thus, proving a digital identity and ownership with current technology is a rabbit hole of complications.
Tools to secure digital copy
One approach to securing ownership is to use digital notaries, or another trusted party for content verification and timestamping. Multiple personal key and timestamp systems also exist, which help counter outside tampering. These steps could secure the ownership and subsequent copyrights on any type of digitally reproducible content. But how many creators or occasional posters give a second thought about the originality of their files?
Still, copyright is extremely important, not only when it comes to content monetization, but also for avoiding fraud, digital identity theft, and other forms of misrepresentation. This is especially true when it comes to securing media content such as pictures and video; preventing theft is crucial.
In 2019, data is not only presented to humans, but combed through by AI, taken up by algorithms, and included in the generation of new data. For that reason, it is extremely important to be aware of ownership and to avoid unwanted or illegal usage of the content.
Blockchain: tamper-proof evidence
Blockchain offers a seamless way to achieve a timestamp to your protect files. We’re talking about any type of data that can be encrypted and timestamped. Additionally, this can all be done in a tamper-proof manner. Once data is encrypted and included on the blockchain, any tampering will be evident, based on the changed data hash.
In general, a savvy user could use public blockchains to timestamp a document and tie it to a mined block. But curated services are being developed for mainstream use. Authpaper Delivery handles copyright with confidential, tamper-proof document delivery. Through a mix of blockchain and encryption, the project has developed a peer-to-peer network to safely distribute encryption-protected information. Bernstein is a blockchain dedicated to intellectual property, targeted to businesses that would like to create a tamper-proof record of their data. The service is ideal for patents, trade secrets, previous art, or models. Binded is a solution targeted especially toward image protection, a free service that can be used as evidence for an image’s originality. Encryption and hashing make sure that even one changed pixel will reveal the work has been copied without permission and altered. When this happens, Binded will be there with evidence of the original.
Comparing these services, Authpaper Delivery is the only one offering a complete ecosystem of data transfers and encryption. Any type of file can be secured on its network, not only limited to image data as in the case of Binded. Let’s go deeper and try to understand how it achieves its security.
Authpaper Delivery offers better security because peers never view the actual data, they only help distribute the already encrypted copies. This level of security is better compared to Bernstein, which requires an initial document upload, thus having a point of limited risk exposure. Any data on its network is immediately encrypted, starting with the first peer in the network, and it can only be decrypted by the intended recipient.
The advantage of Authpaper Delivery includes an automatic record of publication and distribution that is made under a name or email, which is publicly viewable, although not tamper-proof. Thus, third parties can verify the authenticity easily based on the blockchain record, without needing additional steps to receive certificates or other forms of proof.
While the Bernstein project uses the Bitcoin network and outside timestamp authorities, Authpaper Delivery has built its own peer-to-peer network using the BitTorrent protocol. This holds some disadvantages, as peers will need some technical knowledge to connect, while also revealing their IP address, email, and public wallet key. However, their platform is still in the development stage, gathering runway funds through several crowdsale stages. But once live, we’ll be able to assess the real capacity of its network.
The issues of copyright, confidentiality, and data ownership affect all market participants - from individuals to various business and academic organizations. Older solutions are better fitted to users with more significant resources. But blockchain allows for a secure, intuitive, and integrated approach to securing digital copies and intellectual products. Integrated networks offer the most secure steps to achieving these goals.
(Disclosure:The author is not associated with any of the projects mentioned.)