Since sometime in the second half of the 20th Century, the rise of home computers and the internet has resulted in technology slowly taking over our lives bit by bit. We now live in an era where there are more smart devices than people, and everything we do is intrinsically linked to the internet. This digital revolution has swept everything up in its path as even our most simple pastimes are digitised. Games, music, literature, and photography have all been enhanced by technology and today primarily exist in digital form, now it's the turn of art. As computers, tablets, and mobile phones have advanced, a new art medium has been created, digital art. This article will discuss what digital art is, how to protect it, and how it's evolving even as you read these words.
Using technology to create art has been commonplace for many years and has been known by several names such as computer art or multimedia art. Digital art is a broad term used to cover various methods of producing artistic works partly or solely using digital technology.
There are many forms of digital art and the list is continuing to grow as more people discover different ways to use technology to express themselves. Here is a few of the more common examples;
Copyright automatically takes effect once you have created and fixed a piece of work onto a tangible means, which in the case of digital art often happens instantaneously, for example, when taking a photo with a digital camera the image is stored instantly on an SD card. Once that process is complete, your creation has all the protection that copyright affords.
Copyright ownership is automatically provided to the original creator of the digital art; however, this ownership can be sold or claimed by others such as an editor or person who commissioned the piece.
Prior to blockchain digital art could be copied exactly and mass distributed in an instant making it extremely difficult for an artist to claim ownership of an original piece and to prove its provenance. Blockchain now provides a way to protect the ownership and provenance of a piece of digital art.
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 a 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 digital art onto a public blockchain will allow you to show its creation, prove its authenticity and provide an exact provenance, ultimately permitting it to be valued by the same parameters as traditional art forms.
In addition to being able to prove the authenticity and provenance of your work, blockchain can also prove its scarcity by means of a Non-Fungible Token (NFT). An NFT is a one of a kind unit of data stored on a blockchain that certifies it is unique and can’t be replaced like for like with another, it's non-fungible. This NFT is tracked on the blockchain and can only be linked to the original piece; all other versions will result in a different hash identifying them as a copy. Being able to prove originality bestows scarcity and retains the value of your art.
For a long time, people have had to go mostly on a promise when it comes to ownership, authenticity and provenance of digital art. With the rise of NFTs, this is a thing of the past. It allows artists and owners of art to create things like a proof of ownerships or a proof of creation. It is essentially a fingerprint for the artwork on the blockchain.
The applications go far beyond buying and selling of art. With LifeHash, we use this capability to provide copyright and IP right solutions and even apply it in the insurance industry to prove ownership for insurance purposes.
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