Sony is Building a Blockchain-Enabled Rights Management System for Digital Content

Japanese technology giant Sony Corporation has announced the development of a rights management system for digital content that utilizes blockchain technology. The purpose is to create a more efficient way of managing and demonstrating ownership of copyright-related information for written works, the company said on Monday.

“Today, advances in technologies for digital content creation allow anyone to broadcast and share content, but the rights management of that content is still carried out conventionally by industry organizations or the creators themselves, necessitating a more efficient way of managing and demonstrating ownership of copyright-related information for written works,” Sony said.

The new system will include features to demonstrate key information such as the date and time that electronic data was created. It will leverage the properties of blockchain technology to record verifiable and immutable information, allow for the identification of previously recorded works, and enable participants to share and verify when a piece of electronic data was created and by whom.

In addition to the creation of electronic data, the platform will automatically verify the rights generation of a piece of written works. The system will lend itself to the rights management of various types of digital content including electronic textbooks and other educational content, music, films, VR content, and e-books, opening up to a wide range of other possible fields of application.

The system will leverage previous works by Sony on blockchain infrastructures for authenticating, sharing and rights management of educational data. Sony announced its original blockchain product for education last year when it partnered with IBM.

A patent application published in April 2018 by the US Patent and Trademark Office describes a blockchain-based digital rights management system that could manage rights to “various types of content or other data, such as movies, television, video, music, audio, games, scientific data, medical data, etc.”

It details several potential implementations of the technology, including one where each user’s rights are encoded on a dedicated blockchain. In this scheme, the ledger begins with a genesis block that stores identifying information about a user. When the user acquires rights to certain content, those rights are committed to the blockchain.

Besides this particular initiative, Sony said it will continue to explore ways to use blockchain technology for information management and data distribution in different fields, as well as for the group’s diverse and wide-ranging business domains.

Another area where Sony has been investigating is the use of blockchain technology for user authentication.

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