The risk of financial harm to authors is increasing as technology opens up new commercial markets and opportunities for illegal usage of content. The resulting loss of revenue is a massive problem across all levels of business whether you are starting your journey as an author or are a Pulitzer Prize winner.
As an author of any kind, you will no doubt be concerned about the risk of counterfeiting, theft or plagiarism and may be searching for an answer to "How do you prove authorship?"
Before we get to how to prove authorship, let's explore what authorship is and who can claim authorship to a piece of work. Perhaps this is obvious, but the author is the person or persons who have created the work. Presumption of Authorship is given to the person whose name, label, logo, or other claim appears on the piece of work.
If a piece of work has more than one author, it is said to have joint authorship. Joint authorship gives copyright ownership to each author. Before the work is used in any way, each author must give consent unless otherwise agreed. The copyright protects each of the joint authors allowing them to claim an infringement independently.
The owner is the person or entity who has the legal rights to publish, modify, and distribute the piece of work. This isn't necessarily the author, as they may have sold the rights to a publishing company.
In most countries, copyright protection lasts for 70 years after the author's death, while joint authorship protection would cease 70 years after the death of the last surviving joint author.
There are several common yet ineffective ways that authors often try to prove their ownership of work with limited or no success.
The poor man's copyright is when the creator seals a physical copy of the work in an envelope and mails it to themselves. This rudimentary attempt to prove ownership and date of creation is unsurprisingly not recognised as an effective method due to the ease with which the evidence can be tampered with and altered. A similar thought process is behind using the time/date stamp on a computer file to verify the creation date; this too is corruptible as the electronic details can be altered. Yet another way that creators attempt to verify the proof of ownership and date of creation is by emailing the work to themselves or a friend; again this is an unreliable method as the time/date can be altered and would need to be backed up by the email service provider.
So how do you prove authorship?
Blockchain stores data in time/date stamped blocks identified by digital signatures called a hash. Once full to its data capacity a new block is created and linked back to the previous block by storing the hash value of the block before, thus ensuring that each block is linked in an unrelenting chain in its exact order of creation. Placing your signed work onto a blockchain before publishing will prove that you were the original author of that work.
Many blockchains are decentralised, this means that the network of computers that hold and process all the data are not held in one place or owned by one company. Each computer in this decentralised network is known as a node, and each node stores a full record of the blockchain. If a node has an error in its data, it can use the other nodes in the network to correct itself; by the same principle, if someone tampers with the data on one node, all the other nodes would identify the point of corruption and correct it. For an alteration to be made on the blockchain the majority of nodes would need to agree on the change, this could be many thousands of computers, which makes dishonest or mistaken alterations near impossible.
I can hear you ask, 'so how do I put my work onto the blockchain?'
The LifeHash solution is available via a mobile application, plug-ins, and web browser. Once installed, all of your digital creations and interactions are automatically bound to your profile and immutably (forever) anchored into the blockchain.
Those interactions or creations may be; videos, documents, art, music, poems, books, screenplays, the list is endless.
Not only can LifeHash fully secure your digital copyright at the time of creation, our platform also assists you to retrospectively secure any outstanding material you haven't yet secured.
The LifeHash mobile application is free to download and use. Freemium users get a limited version of the application that provides the average user with enough functionality to secure your most important creations!
Authorship is given automatically to the person or persons who originally created the work, an editor or publisher may lay claim to authorship in the absence of a known author.
A ghost author is someone who has made a substantial contribution to the work but is not listed as an author, whereas a guest author is someone who has not made a significant contribution to the work but is listed as an author. Finally, a gift author is someone who has not contributed in any way to the work but is, somewhat unethically, listed as an author.
Authorship is credited to the original creator and can’t be given up, ownership however can be passed on.
Blockchain can be used to prove ownership. By placing a copy of your work on the blockchain it is bound to your profile forever at the time and date you secured it.
Authorship can be hidden in the work by means of encryption or withheld from the published work. By keeping an original signed copy stored on a blockchain you can later prove ownership when required.