Digimarc Highlights How Watermarking Can Improve Rights, Royalty Management for the Music Industry

Digimarc today released a white paper titled, “Watermarking Technology and Blockchains in the Music Industry,” outlining how blockchain technology, when coupled with digital audio watermarks such as Digimarc Barcode, can help overcome many of the current challenges in rights management and royalty transaction processing in the digital music industry. The combination of technologies can help ensure that artists, content creators and rights holders can be compensated appropriately for their work.

Long-time expert on digital rights and content management technologies, Bill Rosenblatt, authored the paper.

No other business is feeling the pain of copyright issues and royalty accounting challenges quite like the music industry. Recent studies have estimated that between 20-50% of royalties owed by digital music services to rights holders are not paid out correctly, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in misallocated or unpaid revenue worldwide. The most fundamental problem in countering this revenue loss has been the lack of authoritative, accessible sources of data about music copyright information, including owners of rights and license terms.

The music industry is starting to look at blockchain technology to bring secure, reliable, and scalable distributed transaction processing to music licensing. This technology eschews central databases in favor of an approach based on interoperability among existing data sources and distributed transactions. While blockchains offer a step in the right direction, the technology itself still has its limitations, which include the inability to ensure that the blockchain data stays linked to relevant audio.

“Music and rights holder identification and transaction management are particular areas of concern for the music industry as it struggles to scale beyond a trillion transactions per year,” said Rosenblatt, president, GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies. “Blockchain technology is an exciting source of solutions to many of these problems, but it’s not enough by itself. This paper discusses how the combination of blockchain technology with audio watermarking, such as Digimarc Barcode, will solve long-standing music copyright problems.”

“The expansion of music access models has led to a fundamental challenge in the way the music industry is addressing rights and royalty management processes,” said Tony Rodriguez, CTO, Digimarc. “Coupling blockchain technology with Digimarc Barcode offers an exacting method for everyone in the music industry to gain the recognition and compensation they deserve.”

Blockchain technology offers scalable, reliable, distributed transaction processing to music licensing without the problems associated with previous failed solutions that relied on large centralized databases of music rights information. A digital audio identification solution, such as the audio watermarking SDKs, applications and services of the Digimarc Barcode platform, provides the most secure and reliable way to associate identifiers with digital music files.

As the white paper highlights, digital watermarking enables blockchain applications to reach their full potential for music copyright management. And while blockchain and watermarking are complementary, they are not dependent on one another. The media and entertainment industry can utilize Digimarc Barcode alone for maintaining a consistent identifier, similar to how UPC barcodes are now used in the retail and consumer packaged goods supply chain.

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