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The concept of 'fake news' has become embedded in our culture in the past few years, raising doubts over the truth of reporting and photojournalism.
In the age of Photoshop, unfortunately easier than ever before to edit an image, changing it's meaning dramatically. Now, even photographic evidence isn't enough because so many of us are cautious of being duped by edited images. At heart, this is a question of proof and it's a problem that goes far beyond just photos, to all intellectual property or evidential disputes. Too often we simply have no flawless means of proving the veracity of a document or photo or other piece of evidence.In response, the legal world has evolved a complex interplay of processes to allow a judge or jury to weigh against a greatly distilled set of evidence to arrive at a "balance of probabilities". Yet even if we leave aside the potential for miscarriages of justice and assume every decision made is correct ,it is a slow, expensive process and, with over two million civil lawsuits per year in the UK alone, is an onerous cost to society and the economy. It also means even those agreements made in good faith are hindered by complex storage and review processes, designed to prove 'beyond any reasonable doubt' the provenance of any communication, contract or transaction. This is extraordinarily expensive, with the average Fortune 500 Company spending hundreds of thousands of hours on legal review, records management and compliance.
This is about to change. Early this year, Kodak entered the crypto currency field. While many wrote this off as a desperate "me too!" from the former tech titan, the creative world noted the very real application to allow photographers to retain control of their work. Kodak's cryptocurrency isn't a general purpose coin or method of exchange ,it's a rights management tool of extraordinary power. It both controls the usage of anything secured by it and proves beyond any reasonable doubt who made the image, as well as where or when it was made.
This use case has not been widely explored, yet represents a seismic shift in how we think about the creation, control and management of content and important documentation. Underpinning Kodak's new system is blockchain, the digital ledger can publically and chronologically record all transactions made. For Kodak users, each photograph 'including image, time stamp, location tag, and device serial number' is encoded within a KODAKCoin and registered on the relevant blockchain.
Burden of proof
There are three key aspects of blockchain that help to prove provenance:
The future of record keeping
The ability to store an unimpeachable record of something - be it an email, a contract, a song, a patent, an academic qualification, a health record, a vote, or a photo and to have that storage also hold the context of its creation is clearly beneficial. Blockchain has the capability to store content in a distributed, controlled, instantly accessible, and truly transparent manner, allowing for profound changes in our business and personal lives.
At minimum, it could eliminate the need for record storage and searches. But the real change is the veracity blockchain provides by demonstrating provenance as an intrinsic part of the 'thing', and removing the concept of 'proof' being separate from 'thing'. Many naysayers have suggested blockchain is a solution without a problem but from last will and testaments and antiques, to exam results and health records, the use cases for blockchain as a means of proving origin and heritage are obvious.
The article was originally published on Computer Business Review and is reposted here by permission.
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