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The Emergence of Blockchain in Taiwan

The Emergence of Blockchain in Taiwan

Amazon Alexa, self-driving vehicles, and robotics. These are all widely known technologies available to the general public which utilize hardware, but rely heavily on software that is programmed into it in order to function. As many are able to perceive, technology is shifting towards a software-based environment. Namely in Taiwan, one of the world leaders in hardware manufacturing, technology leaders see opportunities beyond hardware. A specific area of interest in Taiwan is blockchain technology, which is a public ledger utilizing a peer to peer, decentralized structure. As of now, we put a lot of trust into a third party such as banks, retailers, and corporations to keep our private information safe (which isn’t always reliable). Blockchain is a clever technology whose versatility is becoming increasingly apparent to the Taiwanese government. With blockchain, transactions are recorded in a public ledger and verified by none other than the users themselves, allowing the transfer of cryptocurrency and other data in a decentralized structure. Due to its almost guaranteed security and its easy traceability of irregularities, it’s not hard to think of the many possibilities for practical application that blockchain can provide — recording information such as healthcare data, tracking natural resources, and removing the need for an intermediary to name a few. Various Taiwanese businesses, institutions, and the government have begun to utilize blockchain technology in order to benefit citizens.

Taiwan has traditionally been a very hardware-focused country in its technology sector due to cheap labor costs and a high marginal profit. Sharp, HTC, and Acer are some of its most prominent names. Recently, however, Taiwan has been working towards integrating software as well, such as IOT, software development, and blockchain. Led by Jason Hsu, a legislator who is known to be a strong advocate of blockchain technology, the Taiwan Parliamentary Coalition for Blockchain was founded to push blockchain projects through legislation. Before, the Taiwanese government adopted a “hands-off” approach to blockchain technology — it neither supported nor prohibited it. In recent years however, authorities are becoming increasingly aware of its capabilities and have announced its support to turn Taiwan into a global blockchain nation. Due to various projects which have proved the usefulness of blockchain, its advantages and improvements in the public sector are clearly recognized by the government.

Some of these projects include a blockchain-based payment system which greatly reduces transaction costs and a virtual ID card that prevents identity theft. As a Taiwanese citizen, the impacts of having blockchain integrated in the public sector are very visible. For example, a blockchain-based payment system running on Ethereum has already been implemented near National Chengchi University, used by restaurants and merchants. Since its implementation, the number of transactions in this area has increased fourfold, showing how well its improved merchant sales. There are plenty of reasons for this — decreased transaction costs, elimination of intermediaries, and increased profit that follow. Because of the Byzantine Fault Tolerant consensus protocol that allows two nodes to communicate safely through a network, if a consumer were to pay for something through this system, the transaction times would be cut to less than a second. It would also greatly improve the efficiency and security for the average Taiwanese merchant because of the blockchain structure: transactions are easily verifiable and located on the public ledger, with little doubt of fraud. Due to its low cost for each transaction, merchants forgo extra payments to banks and corporations, allowing more profit to be made.

Another project aimed to integrate blockchain in the public sector and therefore improving the security of Taiwanese citizens’ data is “TangleID”. Think of it as a “Digital Citizen Card” that stores important health data, personal information, and other identification. Identity theft is always a risk when dealing with traditional public ledgers of data. Data leaks, criminal activity, and other threats can all compromise one’s personal data and identity. Yahoo is infamous for a data leak which compromised three billion user accounts. eBay has had a similar crisis in 2014, in which 145 million users’ names, addresses, birthdays, and passwords were all exposed. By utilizing the security of a blockchain ledger and its decentralized nodes, the risk of data being leaked intentionally or unintentionally from a third party is eliminated without an intermediary needed. This is the main basis of TangleID’s security. This way, citizens will be able to rest assured that identity theft as well as voter fraud will be eliminated.

One application that would be especially useful in Taiwan would be using blockchain to track natural resources. Although Taiwan has been going through a very rapid industrialization for the past decades, the environmental costs of doing so is enormous and often times shrugged off in the name of advancement. A blockchain could be used in this situation to track where resources are going towards and how much is being used. By using a blockchain and a “transactive grid” to track energy usage, businesses and the government would be able to easily query where energy is being sourced from and how much is being used. The fact that adding anything onto a blockchain is a immutable record and its low transaction costs make this a very efficient implementation.

Through the multitude of projects that are already in the works, it is very visible that blockchain can have an enormous impact in the public sector, improving Taiwanese citizens’ lives in many aspects. The unique security that comes with utilizing a blockchain structure, its fast transaction times, and low costs can be integrated in a number of creative ways. Jason Hsu hopes to continue this momentum of innovation and change with blockchain. As one of the writers of the “Financial Technology Innovation Experimentation Act” passed in Taiwan, Hsu constantly rallies for legislation supporting blockchain and cryptocurrency. With the pro-blockchain environment in Taiwan, new projects that may be in the works will utilize this technology and be a driver for next generation’s innovation, benefitting citizens and the government alike.

By Kenneth Lee on October 12, 2018.
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Finding Satoshi… And A New Way To Finance Film

Finding Satoshi… And A New Way To Finance Film

Jamie King is the founder of Totemic, a recently launched platform that lets creators issue digital collectibles around their work — and fans to support them. Jamie is an experienced crowdfunder, having created one of the first free-to-share, crowdfunded films, STEAL THIS FILM (2006–2009) and VODO, a pioneering platform in crowdfunded, P2P-distributed film. This article explains how Totemic could become a significant force in the crowdfunding space via the perspectives of experienced filmmaker, crowdfunder, and one of Totemic’s first creators, Emily James.

Finding Satoshi isa hybrid documentary/fiction film set in the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. It follows a detective hired to hunt down Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin’s pseudonymous inventor. As the detective’s quest takes him on a tour of crypto’s key protagonists, the pursuit of Satoshi’s identity leads him deep into the roots and identity of cryptocurrency itself. The search for Satoshi becomes a way to examine crypto and how it is changing the world around us.

The film’s detective, Jimmy, stalks London for leads.

The film, which is currently in development, has a lot going for it. Not only is its topic incredibly current and urgent, but its director, Emily James, is an experienced documentarian with award-winning films and large TV commissions under her belt. Yet even for an established filmmaker like Emily, raising money can be daunting in the fast-moving, highly uncertain film industry.

The Funding Maze

“Funders often want to see nearly a full rough cut before they’ll jump in. The creators of the film have to carry a great deal of the financial risk themselves…”

“In documentary,” Emily explains, “the majority of funding comes from TV commissions — and now platforms like Netflix. And often commissioners want to see quite a lot before they’ll commit any financing — in fiction a script is key; in documentary they will often want to see nearly a full rough cut. Often the creators of the film have to carry a great deal of the financial risk themselves in order to get the project far enough along for others to finally jump in.”

Enter crowdfunding. The crowd (that’s you and me) have proved to be way less risk-adverse than traditional funders, and provide a kind of moral and financial support commercial financers can’t. Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and the film-specific Seed & Spark have made it possible for less established film makers to go direct to potential audiences with their ideas, raising funding for films that otherwise wouldn’t get made.

“Industry money is dragging its feet even more, as it’s now almost expected that a film will ‘prove its audience’ by raising some funds from the crowd.”

But many filmmakers are starting to feel the crowdfunding pinch: it’s getting harder and harder to raise money as the novelty wares off, and a new problem has been created— industry money now tends to drag its feet even more, with expectations that a film will ‘prove its audience’ by raising funds from fans and audience.

Is that… Satoshi I see?

Crowdfunding: The Current Model

To date the main model for crowfunding has been incentivised donations, which are paid by the audience at a variety of levels in return for a designated perk or reward. For example, a fan could fund $20, $50, or $200 and in return receive posters, a place in the credits or a special edition of the film — though the latter can, in practice, be problematic for distributors. Emily’s Film Just Do It, for which over half of the budget raised came from donations in three rounds of funding appeals, is a good example of this approach.

Trouble In Paradise

The perk system, it could be argued, is a flimsy way of rewarding early backers who are really motivate by something more substantial: a sense of protagonism, of an incorporation in the filmmaking process, conferred by being an early believer and investor. This does beg the question of the possibility of incentives that are equal to the risk of investing so early in a film’s life.

There’s a reason micro-financing never took off. The legalities of accepting investments can be sketchy at best — and the only safe route is to limit fundraising to so-called ‘sophisticated’ (read: wealthy) investors who understand, and can bear, the risks involved.

Some approaches have tried to align rewards with risk, especially early on in the history of crowdfunding. Franny Armstrong’s The Age of Stupid, which Emily produced and was an early pioneer in crowdfunding, pioneered a micro-financing system in which each investor owned a little piece of the ‘back end’ profits of the film, rather than donating and merely getting perks. Clearly, if The Age Of Stupid could deliver profits as well as perks, that might galvanise investors who weren’t ‘superfans’ and for whom perks alone wouldn’t swing it.

There’s a reason that model never took off. In many countries the legalities of accepting investments remain sketchy — and in practice, the only safe route would be to limit fundraising to so-called ‘sophisticated’ (read: wealthy) investors who understand, and can bear, the risks involved.

This somewhat defeats the point of the ‘crowd’ part of the crowdfunding. It’s true that the passage of the JOBS Act has, at least in the US, opened private investments into indie film to investors with a lower net worth — but there’s another (and perhaps bigger) problem for films raising funding. It’s kind of an open secret amongst indie filmmakers: the vast majority of the films out there, even some of the ones you may have seen or heard of, don’t wind up turning a profit. Indie films run on a shoestring, often with the majority of the team deferring much or all of their payment until when (or if — and that’s a big if) a film is sold. Any profits may come only after everyone gets paid, and marketing and other expenses can eat into returns investors were expecting. “It’s true indie films often don’t make much money,” Emily admits, “and when they do hit the ball out of the park, the people who made it (or the crowd who invested) don’t necessarily see as much of that money as you might think. Sales agents and distributors can often take over half of gross revenue off the top, before it even starts to trickle back down. People who invest in films have to understand it’s a very risky investment indeed, and be motivated by something other than hope for large returns on their investment.”

Totemic: The Middle Way?

Could there be a ‘middle way’ for crowdfunding film? A way in which filmmakers can fund their work, and funders receive not only feel-good perks, but incentives tied to the value of that work, without getting tangled up in messy equity and financing thickets? We think so, and our new platform Totemic is setting out to prove it.

Totemic offers a simple, accessible means for creators to issue collectible assets (which can be thematically aligned with their work, or totally separate) and then purchased by audiences and fans in a similar way to the perks of other crowdfunding platforms. You can think of these assets as the digital equivalent of baseball cards, in provably limited edition, and with a provenance guaranteed by the Bitmark blockchain.

From Emily James’ first set, ‘Finding Satoshi’. Each card represents a potential candidate for the real Satoshi Nakamoto.

For a physical world analogue, consider buying a numbered photographic print from a gallerist. While anyone wanting that image could very well scan and reproduce it themselves, what the gallerist is guaranteeing is access to one of a limited number of authorisednumbered copies. In effect, it’s the deed of title to the asset which is being purchased; a deed which confers an indirect relationship with the artist and guarantees provenance, producing a tradeable asset with real value.

Totemic’s collectibles have two key functions: first, they let fans collect work from creators they enjoy, by acquiring the creators’ cards. Being limited edition, if a creator’s reputation increases, the value of the cards could behave similarly. If I acquire Emily’s Finding Satoshi set, for example (which I have, except for those damn Rares… just haven’t got lucky yet!), then if her film does well, I can expect the value of the collectibles to go up. The renown of the film and its creator increases demand for the associated collectibles, which are in limited supply. Perhaps I will collect two sets of Finding Satoshi cards, hoping to sell the other one in the marketplace at such a moment.

Balancing Self Interest & Patronage

Without having an equity stake in a creator’s work, acquiring Totemic collectibles confer similar benefits — and remain outside the difficult film distribution business.

This is a new approach to crowdfunding, balancing self-interest with patronage: as with other platforms, backers benefit from the feel-good factor, (supporting Emily and her film) and also from any perks the creator might offer for holding her cards — invitations to screenings, behind-the-scenes access and so on. But they also enjoy a new, speculative relation to the creator and her work through holding the collectibles — similar, indeed, to that of wealthy art collectors and the artists they collect. When a collected artist gets a significant show, or some other cultural event occurs around them, all the works they’ve sold may well increase in price. Without having an equity stake in that artist, buying their work essentially confers similar benefits.

There are clear advantages to this approach. For film investors in Emily’s film, for example, it means holding assets which stay cleanly outside the thorny film distribution business. Even if the film turns no profit, these collectible assets may well rise in price. And this is achieved without Emily promising any equity stake in her film — leaving her deals with traditional financiers unencumbered. Nor has she promised her crowdfunders advance or special access copies of the final film, which can annoy distributors and make deals difficult to do in practice.

Emily, one of the first creators to try out the Totemic platform, agrees on the potential here. “Digital collectibles could be a great way to crowdfund. It adds real value for the backers. In traditional crowd-funding of films you are always trying to come up with ‘perks’ that will encourage people to give larger sums, but you have to be careful to not promise so much that it ends up costing so much to deliver on that you don’t actually raise enough money for the making of the film! I think that the donors also have become fatigued with giving large sums but getting something in return that’s not really equal in value.

“With Totemic’s collectible model, on the other hand, the backer’s making a bet on you, and by extension on the future value of the cards. As well as helping the film get made, they are also potentially acquiring something of real value for themselves. It’s a win-win! Best of all this money comes with no obligation to pay it back, which is immensely useful for an independent film, where every penny needs to go a long way. Money that doesn’t need to recoup (be it crowdfunding or grants) can be a crucial part of making a film more economically viable: it allows one to deliver a film that punches above its weight production value-wise, and which industry money feels safer getting involved with — because they are getting a film for only a fraction of its real cost.”

This is why we started Totemic: we see a massive potential, in the emerging class of collectible digital assets, to create a new opportunity in the crowdfunding space — both for creators and backers. Of course, crypto-assets are a new and turbulent space: on any given day skeptics are proclaiming their doom, while boosters are determined that whichever token they’re pitching is going ‘to the moon’. But the fact remains: Bitcoin has, for all but the most hardened ‘nocoiners’, shown that trustless, blockchain-based digital assets can gain and retain real value. We believe the same can and will be true of digital collectibles — backed not only by blockchain, but by the reputation and projects of artists both new and emerging.

Thanks to Emily for being one of the first filmmakers to make use of the Totemic platform to raise funds for her film. You can buy her cards right now on the Totemic platform at https://totemic.co.

By Totemic on July 23, 2018.
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Introducing Totemic — the new digital trading card exchange built to give artists and creators a new model to fund their work.

Introducing Totemic — the new digital trading card exchange built to give artists and creators a new model to fund their work.

By Sean Moss-Pultz

Jamie King & I met about three years ago, introduced through a mutual friend, one of the founders of BitTorrent Inc. Jamie had distributed his documentary STEAL THIS FILM via the Bittorrent protocol, and gone on to found VODO, one of the first distribution companies based on P2P tech. I just started Bitmark, and was looking for new distribution channels for artists.

Right from the start, it was clear something interesting could happen.

Over the next year or two, Jamie and I discussed different ways that Bitmark could support people creating all kinds of digital work — music, photography, video and writing. The “ah-hah” moment came after we found out, separately, about Rare Pepes — a platform using blockchain to create scarce assets from memes. Having both decided that blockchain-based, digital trading cards would be the wave of the future, we decided to work together and build a new platform: Totemic.

Totemic is a digital trading card exchange in which artists can issue limited edition digital card sets for their fans to purchase, sell, and trade. One of the things I like about trading cards, is that they can allow artists to re-use bits and pieces of their original works. They’re not having to create whole new assets to get access to this valuable new revenue stream. And for fans/collectors collectibles trigger this kind of immediate nostalgia. To this day, I can remember opening up baseball cards with the stick of gum. You never knew what you were going to get. Even the duplicates created more fun — you could easily trade those with friends for cards you did not have.

Where Totemic stands apart for buyers and collectors is that card ownership is completely decentralized. On any other digital collectibles platform, a company owns your collection. By using the public Bitmark blockchain, however, Totemic makes sure your cards are truly yours, forever. Ownership of a card and its ownership history are always maintained independently from any third-parties — even including Totmetc and Bitmark Inc.!

An important part of Totemic’s raison d’etre springs from Jamie’s insight, from both his own experiences as a filmmaker, and distributing other people’s work at VODO, that artists increasingly don’t make money from their artwork directly. Popular new platforms like Patreon, for example, are based around indirect ways of monetizing the creative practice. This can lead to skewed incentives and peculiar projects endorsements that don’t really create value for their fans.

In contrast to other platforms, which pay creators through one-time licensing fees, artists who publish trading cards via Totemic profit from their cards’ appreciation. When fans sell and continue to trade cards they are extending the value, funding and visibility for the artist who created that card. This in turn motivates creators to offer unique and compelling experiences within each card to their fans, like adding giveaways, concert tickets, videos, etc. And fans can feel like they are participating in their favorite artists success, plus they gain value from the cards themselves. Totemic becomes a jumping-off point for a deepened relationship between the artist and supporter — a dynamic missing from crowdfunding and digitized campaigns like Pateon, Kickstarter, Behance, etc. We think Totemic is one of the first platform to align creator and fan incentives, creating a valuable new channel in digital arts.

Totemic has been through a number of different prototypes and iterations already, and it’s now in testing with the very first, live sets of cards from a few invited creators. Soon we’ll be opening up the platform to more artists — we hope you can enjoy creating and collecting cards! Join the site here.

By Bitmark Inc. on May 5, 2018.
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Art and Blockchain [Part1]: VRintelligentART and the Bitmark Blockchain

Art and Blockchain [Part1]: VRintelligentART and the Bitmark Blockchain

I just recently bought my first two pieces of #VRintelligentART and thought, that the process and underlying blockchain technology is interesting enough to share with you.

The output for numbers 2 and 3 on DApp Gen1

VRintelligentART

I came across this digital art project through a small conversation, that I had with twitter user Von Likenstien, who is an Economist and Aerospace Engineer with an interest in AI, VR, and AR.

He created a small AI tool, that is called “DApp Gen1” and that transforms any input into a small piece of digital art.

Screenshot from DApp Gen1

If you like the output, you can then contact Von Likenstien on twitter and purchase the small digital AI-artwork using Ethereum. He then uses a blockchain called Bitmark to transfer the ownership of this digital asset to you.

Bitmark

The Bitmark blockchain has been designed to particularly enable the making of property from digital data.

By bitmarking the first public instance of your data, for example editions of photographs on your webstore, you can absolutely control the number of bitmarks there are and who owns them. Using the Bitmark tools you can easily begin registering your claim of ownership by bitmarking your data.

Source

You can either upload a digital file, input a text or even use IFTT applets to automatically bitmark your output on several social media sides and apps.

Screenshot from IFTT

The IFTTT service gives individuals the ability to easily extract their data from the places where we create and share things: social media, fitness and health apps, productivity and financial software, and much more. Bitmark Applets allow users to simply apply a mark of accepted ownership to a new creation (photos on Instagram, articles on WordPress, code on Github, and more) and embed it into Bitmark’s standardized, universal crypto property system.

Source

Transfer of Bitmarks

After someone has bitmarked a digital asset, like the output of the DApp Gen1 by Von Likenstien for example, these bitmarks can easily transfered to another Bitmark user. All you will have to know, is the email address of the user, you want the asset transfer to.

There is a Web App where you can see, manage and transfer all your digital assets.

After I sorted out the payment details with Von Likenstien and gave him the email address, I signed up with on Bitmark, he transferred the outputs of his DApp Gen for the numbers “2” and “3” to me.

I took a while until I received an email for every digital artwork, in which I was asked to accept the transfer of the properties by signing them.

Screenshot from Bitmark email

After that, I was able to see and download those artworks at my Bitmark account.

Screenshot from Bitmark

As you can see, I could also transfer those bitmarked artworks to another user and there will always be a provenance and history of ownership available on the Bitmark blockchain.

The block explorer is called The Bitmark Property Registry and is a historical ledger of all property transactions in the Bitmark property system. At this place you can check, if the transfer was successful.

Check it out!

If you are an artist or art collector, you should definitely check out the DApp Gen1 VRintelligentART generator. For example the output for “steemit” looks very rad.

Screenshot from DApp Gen1

Just contact Von Likenstien on twitter and ask, if it is still available.

Bonus (for Steemit users)

Alternatively you could purchase a digital artwork from me called “bomomo blue”, that I just issued as an edition of 10.

If you’re interested, you can buy one of those digital artworks by sending me 2 Steem/SBD to my Steemit account (@shortcut) and add your email in an encrypted memo. You can encrypt the memo by adding a # followed by a space in front of the memo.

For example # For 1 bomomo blue artwork. Here is my@email.com

Thanks in advance!

This was just the beginning of a series about blockchain and art, please follow me to keep yourself up to date!

@shortcut


Originally published at steemit.com on April 3, 2018.

By Joern Bielewski on April 04, 2018.
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Third World Countries are Richer Than You Think

Third World Countries are Richer Than You Think

written by Bitmark intern, Kenneth Lee

Source: https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-7283b00e311a28c8502822b242e5a70b-c

Capitalism, Capitalism, Capitalism. In a world where many would argue is “western dominated,” Capitalism is revered as the most successful economic system in the world. Many third world countries try to implement this system and fail. But why? Is it because they aren’t as smart as those in the West? Do they not have as much entrepreneurial spirit? Or do they just lack the wealth and resources? A myriad of help campaigns and news media outlets highlighting their grievances condition us to think the above, but in fact, the people in these countries are just as smart, just as willing, and richer than you think. But for various reasons, they cannot turn the capital they have into wealth. Thus they are only rich in what some call “dead capital.”

What is capital?

To understand what dead capital is, let’s define a few things that are considered capital. Capital is a human made, durable product that can be used to produce other goods and services. Some examples of capital goods include:

  • vehicles such as commercial aircraft and cars
  • software used by companies
  • tools that are used by construction workers,
  • buildings such as office buildings, factories, warehouses, and hotels

As long as it’s used for a business purpose and not a consumer purpose, it’s considered capital.

What makes capital “dead”?

Many factors contribute to a capitalist society’s success, but let’s talk about one of the main characteristics: clear documentation of assets. In the West, everything is recorded and documented in a fairly clear manner: office buildings have titles registered by the state or local government; stores have inventory lists for wares and equipment. Processes like these “list” the asset, creating a clear record of ownership in one singular system, and proving its existence in the eyes of the economy. Because these items are well documented (including both the values of the asset as well as the ownership claim attached), they can be more easily transferred into collateral for loans, credit, and other things. This is why documentation is vital — it allows the asset to have a value in the economy (based on, for example, how big a piece of land is, its desirability, who owns it, etc) and it makes the asset more easily transferable when there is a clear owner. When there is verifiable proof of an assets value and clear ownership claim to that asset, it has all the necessary components to turn it into capital. Having these structured systems in place in many aspects of culture and business is one of the many contributing factors that allow capitalism to thrive.

However, in many non-capitalist countries, assets are not recorded in the same clear manner. Because these assets are not represented in registries or documentation, there’s no way to prove its existence and subsequently turn it into capital. “The value of savings among the poor is, in fact, immense — forty times all the foreign aid received throughout the world since 1945,” as stated by Hernando De Soto in his book The Mystery of Capital. So in reality the hurdle they face is that their systems don’t allow the clarity that could turn the many assets they do possess into usable capital. It’s like if you tried to use pesos in America; it has a value, but it isn’t the currency in America and therefore is of no economical use.

Source: https://media.licdn.com/mpr/mpr/AAEAAQAAAAAAAAzSAAAAJGMyYzVhODJmLTc1Y2MtNDgyNi1iZjI1LWZkMTYwNjkxODMzOA.jpg

Why does it matter?

Moving toward a more globalized economy, recording all assets is key to economic success; you might think: “Why can’t they just start recording all their assets now?” In an ideal world, where everyone is moral and honest, of course that would be a great solution. However, in countries where three people claim to own the same piece of land and have their own separate made-up documents supporting their claims, it’s hard to confirm who owns what. Without a uniform system, the assets that people possess are difficult to transfer and don’t have clear economic value. Lots of ambiguity arises from these issues. They need a uniform solution that efficiently records their assets without confusion, failures of a broken system, or fear of duplication or criminal activity. In essence there needs to be a trustworthy system that provides the authentication of property records as well as verification of ownership claims in order to rectify the huge amount of dead capital many countries possess.

The Bitmark system was created in order to “level the playing field” within the digital environment by bringing the established rules of western land rights to ownable digital things. Bitmark relies on a blockchain, a public digital ledger of records (property titles, in this case).

By recording your property in the Bitmark blockchain, it is verifiably yours, and viewable along with all other recorded property titles, as well as any transfers of these records. Because of its public nature, any user can submit information to be added to the blockchain. Each record, once added to the blockchain, is resistant to being removed, changed, or added to without detection by other users. This transparency of modification adds a layer of security to your asset records. By permanently recording each item on our blockchain, the public record of who owns what can be rectified if discrepancies between owners arise due to this immutable pointer allowing the asset to be clearly identified by its property title.

Transaction of assets are authenticated by public-key cryptography, making them virtually impossible to fake. The decentralized nature of the network makes data leaks more difficult (there are no central parties to hack).

By bringing more accessibility, security, and automation to outdated systems, the use of blockchain technology to record property has the potential to jump-start a country’s economy. Now the immense amounts of dead capital will be able to be correctly documented, introducing a lot of desired resources into the flow of the economy.

If you are interested in using the Bitmark blockchain to record property or assets, or are interested in a partnership, please contact us! We would love to hear from you at support@bitmark.com.

Sources:

https://www.thebalance.com/capital-goods-examples-effect-on-economy-3306224

https://simplicable.com/new/capital-goods

“The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else” by Hernando De Soto

By Bitmark Inc. on March 5, 2018.
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Bitmark Enables KKBOX to Pay Music Royalties More Efficiently — Musicians Get the Transparency they Deserve

Bitmark Enables KKBOX to Pay Music Royalties More Efficiently — Musicians Get the Transparency they Deserve

In an era of global tech monopolies, the implementation of decentralized systems can’t seem to come quick enough; we need more transparency from large companies and more infrastructure that supports individual privacy and control.

Today, Bitmark is pleased to announce a partnership with KKFarm (investment group of KKBOX) and CTBC, to enable KKBOX to more efficiently record, track and transfer the rights of access to musician’s royalties.

Many publications are predicting 2018 will see large companies and institutions implementing digital currency, blockchain technology or property rights for digital assets; this initiative weaves all three together.

The issue at hand

KKBOX is the largest music streaming service in Asia, with over 80% market share and 10M+ paid users. (Think Spotify of Asia — yet KKBOX actually started before Spotify.) One of their biggest pain points is knowing who owns what rights for a given song.

Currently, this ownership information is stuck in excel files behind corporate firewalls and is thus opaque. Both the streaming platform and the artists (rights-holders) are aligned in wanting to clarify lines of ownership and streamline this process. Even though in the news streaming companies (eg: Spotify) are being constantly sued by rights holders, they also want more transparent accounting. Bitmark makes this possible.

Musicians who license their work to KKBOX will now be able to have their song rights recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. Initially there will be 50 artists who participate, but we intend it to be in the thousands by year end.

The main goal of recording music rights is to enable automation of the payout for royalties. Artists can then get their money faster and more efficiency. Subsequently, and in our second phase of the project, we will establish ways the rights can be traded and transferred, creating liquidity of the royalties associated with rights.

How it works…

Music rights will get recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. When royalties need to get paid out, CTBC will verify the digital signatures of both KKBOX and the rights holders before distributing payments. Royalties will be paid out based on whoever holds rights to the music.

Music rights and royalty payments flow

A system of transparency and efficiency

Problems associated with IP rights and digital property have been around since the dawn of the internet. Bitmark’s public protocol, paves a way to solve these issues, by creating clear and verifiable ownership of rights.

Because rights are recorded in Bitmark’s public blockchain, it will be possible for artists to always see who owns what rights (or for anyone to see who is holding rights to what music). It’s possible that artists will begin to get a larger share of their royalty revenue because this system is cheaper, more efficient and automated.

“Bitmark provides tools and services that make rights more clear in the digital environment. Making music rights transparent and transferable is central to both KKBOX and Bitmark. Pochang and I have been in conversation for quite some time and I know these long standing issues he has been working to solve in digital music. Together we are building a solution that will enable the music ecosystem to grow and thrive”

— Sean Moss Pultz, CEO Bitmark

What the future holds

Every digital medium is going to have problems verifying and authenticating digital property and clear lines of ownership. This partnership creates a clear path to a solution.

This project is a cheaper, more predictable, and much more efficient way for streaming service platforms to pay artists their royalties — introducing more options for revenue streams from these royalties in the future.

Bitmark’s mission is to record rights to the world’s assets and make them universally accessible for sharing and trading. Being able to do this with music rights is exciting to us because everyone knows the current royalty model is badly broken. We read articles about artists suing digital music companies all the time; Bitmark really sees a solution to this and we’re thrilled to be making it happen with such a strong partner as KKBOX.

We at Bitmark believe securing property rights can trigger a multiplying effect of opportunity: it creates social inclusion, economic stability, and even environmental stewardship. In the coming months you will see more announcements from us as we roll out even more tools that enable transparency and clarification of rights for many types of assets, and subsequently liquidity for the revenue associated with these rights.

By Bitmark Inc. on January 11, 2018.
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Bitmark + Chibitronics: Protecting against hardware warranty fraud.

Bitmark + Chibitronics: Protecting against hardware warranty fraud.

Today Bitmark is pleased to announce a partnership with Chibitronics — together we are launching an anti-fraud protection system for hardware companies, built on the Bitmark blockchain.

Chibitronics will assign their Love to Code kits with labels which are linked to digital property titles, known as “bitmarks” recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. This application offers Chibitronics an automated warranty tracking system for their products, ultimately restoring security and trust to both Chibitronics and their customers.

The Backstory:

Warranty fraud is a rampant and costly epidemic for hardware and consumer electronics companies, large and small. It has been estimated that companies lose 5–10% of their product revenue to fraudulent product repairs and renewals, and even more to operational costs for customer support.

Chibitronics co-founder, bunnie huang came to Bitmark with the idea: In the same way that the Bitcoin blockchain can prevent double-spending digital currency, hardware products that are linked and viewable via the Bitmark blockchain will have a trackable provenance, thus cloning and warranty fraud are more easily detected and averted.

“Bitmark has provided us with a turn-key solution for serialization and front-line warranty support, thus streamlining our operational costs. Furthermore, the anti-fraud protection inherent in Bitmark serialization ensures that our operating margins are not eroded by external costs incurred by supporting hardware clones and fraudulent returns.”

— bunnie, Co-founder Chibitronics

How it works

Chibitronics kits will each come with a coded product label (a randomized set of words, similar to a secure passcode) which is then linked to a bitmark, recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. Each kit’s bitmark is a unique digital fingerprint that retains verified product information, and a viewable chain of ownership should the kit be passed or sold to other individuals. Ultimately, each kit has both a physical and a digital mark of authentication verifying it as a Chibitronics product.

How bitmarks are assigned

How bitmarks are used for customer support

This kind of digital warranty gives Chibitronics the following advantages for managing their products and customer support:

  • Bitmarks are permanently viewable on the Bitmark blockchain: Chibitronics’ customer support team, manufacturers, distributors, and the entire supply chain, will be able to view product information of any product codes they have issued.
  • Customer support is automated: the efficiency of reading a blockchain to verify a customer’s product code is greater than any other warranty system yet available.
  • Bitmarks are incorruptible: The tamper-evident label on each kit is linked to one, and only one bitmark. Any changes or alterations to the label or bitmark can be detected easily, and then dealt with appropriately.
  • Companies can reap the benefit of higher revenue: With this faster, more traceable, automated, secure and authenticated hardware warranty system, companies can invest in better products.
  • An automated system is better all around: Bitmarks make product ownership easily authenticated and trackable for both the company and customers (no need to keep proof-of-purchase files around!).

What this means

By enabling the Bitmark system, hardware companies large and small will be able to streamline and stabilize their customer support systems, thus opening up the possibility to invest in better products and provide greater value to their customers.

“This launch shows that our technology is getting mature enough that people outside of our company are coming to us to use it to solve their problems and pain points. This partnership reveals the multitude of ways Bitmark can help pave the way to a more trustable and free digital environment. ”

—Sean Moss-Pultz, Bitmark CEO

In the same way that we have rules about physical property, Bitmark establishes a framework of rules that authenticates digital property, by using a blockchain. Property titles lend clarity and freedom to the rules of our possessions. When clear property rules are established, you can rent, license, loan, resell, and share your belongings because your things are now part of a system of trust and reliability. Linking your hardware property to the Bitmark blockchain with an unforgeable digital title, re-establishes trust in a sector fraught with fear, misuse, and dishonesty.


More about Chibitronics

Chibitronics is a company that makes electronic stickers, which let you create, craft and code technology through arts and crafts. Co-founder, bunnie huang approached Bitmark with the idea to launch this anti-fraud protection for their products.

More about bitmarks for fraud-proof serialization

To read more specifics about the ways in which Bitmark can help companies alleviate warranty fraud issues, and help restore trust to a broken business model, read our recent blog post “Hardware companies can use Bitmark to solve warranty fraud.


If you are interested in using the Bitmark blockchain to authenticate hardware or inquire about a business partnership, we would love to hear from you. Please email support@bitmark.com.

By Bitmark Inc. on October 16, 2017.
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blog

What consent should look like when you share your data.

What consent should look like when you share your data.

Bitmark handles consent differently than most apps: we take greater measures to empower the user to have full control over their personal data.

We’re getting ready to launch a beta of our Data Donation App that will make it easy for individuals to donate their personal data to public health studies. Initially there will be two studies from researchers at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

This article describes some of the new methods we’re using to make data sharing safe. The Bitmark app uses blockchain technology to keep the ownership of your data secure. The provenance of your data is recorded in the blockchain and then your data is transferred to the recipient using end-to-end encryption. This records clear consent via an authenticated “chain-of-title” — meaning you always know who has rights to access your data.

Most importantly the Bitmark blockchain provides a framework of standardized property rights, rules and infrastructure for your personal data — now you can own your digital data in the same ways you can own physical property.

How the Data Donation App works.

Individuals can browse public health studies and learn about how their data will be used (Women’s reproductive health; Diabetes remission and prevention; etc). A research study has a shareable URL that links directly into the Data Donation app:

Individuals that meet the eligibility requirements can tap a button to participate in the study. The App will then request permission from the participant to access their data. Each time data is shared the participant will be required to sign the transfer.

Taking a step back.

It’s worth pausing for a moment and comparing how different this process is from the other mobile apps. After the initial request to access your data, most apps don’t inform users what personal data is being collected. Accessing user data is like the Wild West. Big companies make money by tapping into the enormous amount of “free” information created by individual mobile users, bundling it together and selling it to the highest bidder.

When apps gain access in perpetuity to personal data individuals lose their freedom. Yes, it’s possible to revoke access. But that requires significant effort the user’s side. Even then, the choice is binary: grant or deny access to all requested data.

Here’s how we can do better.

The Bitmark app makes consent to transfer data an explicit action. When you join a study, you agree to donate data in regular intervals. Yet each time before your data is transferred, you will be asked to sign.

Why do we require your signature each and every time your personal data is transferred? Because we want you to be in control and know what is going on. When you donate data you are issuing a new digital property title, or “bitmark” for your data that will be recorded in the Bitmark blockchain. When you transfer that bitmark to the researcher they can access that specific data set. Your signature is your consent.

A signed transfer is recorded into the blockchain and linked to your signed issuance. This “chain of title” protects both parties, without relying on a central intermediary. (The Bitmark server cannot decrypt donor data or use it for any purpose.) Both sides get clarity as to where the data came from and who gets to use it.

Here’s a diagram of this process:

Note: At anytime during the course of a study, participants can simply choose not to donate data or withdraw from the study entirely. No further data will be collected after that point.

A new model for data consent.

We believe explicit consent through chain-of-title is how the exchange of data should happen. Not just for research, but for all personal data transfers.

In the academic world, when a study is considered to evaluate “human subjects research” it must have approval by the Institution to be conducted. This approval process protects the institution administering the studies and the participants of the research. (UC Berkeley has a great article on this http://cphs.berkeley.edu/review.html).

Bitmark believes similarly that individual internet users should be be able to safely and privately share their digital data. The Bitmark blockchain can enable a new model of consent for transferring personal data:

  1. Public keys are used to identity participants, instead of real names or even usernames.
  2. End-to-end encryption protects the data during storage and transport.
  3. No third parties can access personal data, even Bitmark.
  4. Participants consent is signed and recorded in the Bitmark blockchain every time their data is share to a researcher of their choosing.
  5. Participants can always opt-out and no further data transfers happen.


If you are interested in how blockchain technology can be used as titles (the Bitmark blockchain) versus the ever-popular use as tokens (Bitcoin and/or Ethereum blockchains), look for a blog post coming soon that explains the difference. Follow us on Twitter, @BitmarkInc, to see what else we’re thinking about.

We are thrilled to have UC Berkeley as our first partner for this blockchain application. If you are interested in participating in the Bitmark Data Donation App, either by listing your study, or incorporating this new technology into your project, please email support@bitmark.com.

By Bitmark Inc. on October 2, 2017.
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Hardware companies can use Bitmark to solve warranty fraud.

Hardware companies can use Bitmark to solve warranty fraud.

The bitmark can contain relevant data and metadata to authenticate the physical item. It’s also unforgeable, and can be authenticated without relying on a third-party.

Online fraud takes many forms, but one of the more insidious is warranty fraud. A warranty is a promise from the seller of a product that the product will meet certain expectations. When this promise is exploited it becomes a major pain point for hardware manufacturers and this affects consumers in non-obvious ways.

Products, sold globally, must be supported locally by an ecosystem of staff, distributors, and developers. The supply chain complexity of modern hardware devices, like your phone or computer, is staggering. As the complexity grows the need for trust increases. Small startups struggle to deal with this complexity, and often fail before they can reach scale. Large companies are willing to accept a certain percentage of fraud as an unavoidable cost to doing business. To make matters worse, companies are reluctant to share their experiences and best practices. They fear being more transparent about the problem will lead to even more exploitation. What is needed is a different approach. The Bitmark blockchain can help restore trust in the hardware industry. This post explains how.

Digital titles, or “bitmarks” that secure physical products.
Bitmarks are digital property titles that prove the origin, authenticity, and history of ownership for digital property. (Learn more about what’s in a bitmark). A bitmark works well as a serial number or warranty code. One possible method to fight warranty fraud is to give each product a warranty code and then have customers “claim” the corresponding bitmark. Only one customer can hold a bitmark at a time. (The blockchain enforces this scarcity.) Once the manufacturer transfers ownership of the bitmark to their customer they can rest assured that it cannot be forged, swapped, or cloned.

The warranty code can be a simple label. For higher-value items, it can be etched onto the hardware directly. It should have enough length to represent a bitmark which is 32 bytes. A QR code works well for this. In the few markets, like North America, where people still don’t use QR codes, we suggest using a passphrase — dictionary words not commonly found together in literature. Here’s a good one.

Here’s a claim as a QR code:

Here is that same claim as a passphrase:

middle atom wife rigid pyramid garlic fine badge
hour exotic ordinary change display artwork hand exile
verb size nest mirror wrong ankle float appear

That code represents the rights to claim a bitmark that was issued by the manufacturer.

The bitmark can contain relevant data and metadata to authenticate the physical item. It’s also unforgeable, and can be authenticated without relying on a third-party. This makes it possible to radically lower costs for common after-sales support issues like customer support, warranty, RMA, and much more.

Hardware startups, here’s your fraud-proof serialization solution.
Bitmarks provide the foundation for a robust hardware serialization. To really flush out the value of this fraud-proof serialization, imagine a hardware startup that recently pushed a Kickstarter project into mass production and has begun shipping. If each board is fraud-proof serialized, when a customer has a problem the startup knows exactly which production run the board came from, what firmware was installed, and when it was received, without even having to ask the customer a single question!

But it gets better. Not only can the startup have this information but any distributor can authenticate customers, as well. This means lower distribution costs (with higher margins). And it also means more local, higher-quality support for customers.

“Trust” is automated, basic annoyances like asking for proof-of-purchase can be skipped, and more time can be spent making the customer happy.

Large consumer electronics companies can benefit with Bitmark as well.
Fraud problems are definitely not exclusive to small business. For example, Apple, Cisco, and Fitbit have been known to suffer massive warranty fraud (don’t quote us on this, but it’s likely in the billions of dollars per year!). To make matters worse it hits their most expensive product lineup. Large companies that bitmark their physical products can automate customer support checks across their distributor network, just like the startups. Being able to track conversion rates is valuable data for inventory management and future product planning. In addition, they would be able to offer rewards and discounts on future sales, which is good for their customers and their bottom line.

Enabling hardware business models of the future.
When a product has an unforgeable serial number linked to the cloud, you can do remarkable things, and with great ease. Here’s a list of our top 5 favorites:

  1. Solve the open hardware support conundrum. When you ship open-source hardware anyone can also make clones. Yes, it’s great to have a vibrant community contributing bugs fixes and feature ideas. But it’s also expensive to support clones from other manufacturers. A new model could be to sell a bitmark as “rights for support.” This could transform a cost-sink into an additional revenue stream.
  2. Manage “closed betas.” Special (serialized) hardware could run beta software and the entire distribution of that software could be automated and authenticated and tracked within the confines of a specific group of users.
  3. Make warranties transferable. Being able to transfer a warranty with full transparency and security, would hugely benefit customers and could substantiate secondary markets. . That grows the pie for everyone. Combined with conversation tracking, it’s a great way to bring new customers into the market.
  4. Authorized playback. Bitmarks can protect data in the way that access control software such as Digital rights management (DRM) promised data protection, without the nasty side-effects for end-users. Software can verify ownership by checking the blockchain itself to make sure the current holder is the recorded owner. This can happen behind the scenes, and it doesn’t require a third-party to enforce.
  5. Firmware upgrades. IoT has terrible security. Device manufacturers could transfer bitmarks for security updates to device IDs. This way each device could authenticate the software without having to worry about malware. The blockchain is distributed so that if any one specific server is compromised the overall security can still be maintained.

Join us in our efforts to democratize the digital economy. Sign up for our beta and try our IFTTT service. If you have any questions, we’re @BitmarkInc on Twitter.

By Bitmark Inc. on September 22, 2017.
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On the internet, nobody knows you’re a renter.

On the internet, nobody knows you’re a renter.

The important differences between copyright, licensing agreements, and property titles.

Bitmark allows property titles to be assigned to digital content and data. The ownership and history of these titles, which we call “bitmarks” are recorded in the blockchain. We aim to extend traditional property rights into the digital environment.

The Bitmark property system will provide a foundational legal and economic framework to allow digital works to be bought, sold, borrowed, passed down, rented, loaned, and more. Before we can do all of these things with our digital assets, we first must make property titles clean. Empowering individuals to own their digital lives will help transform the digital environment into an even more valuable economy for both companies and individuals.

A few important definitions:

  • Copyright — Exclusive rights granting the owner of an original literary, musical, or artistic work to distribute and use.
  • License Agreement — Authorization, for a specified time or territory, from the owner to use their asset. Often to grant use of copyright.
  • Property Title — Legal instrument claiming ownership of an asset. The title functions as bundle of property rights that can be transferred.

In the physical world, individuals have freedom because property rights are clear.

The ways we use things in the physical realm, whether we have ownership of them or not, are usually quite clear. For example, when you buy a book you can write in its margins, give it to your friend, take 10 years to read it, or even throw it away. When you borrow a book from the library, because you do not own it, you’re expected to return it within the library’s conditions (on time, no writing in it, not damaged, etc). What we can and cannot do with things in the physical world is clear because there is a framework of standardized property rights, rules, and infrastructure that make it clear.

Another way to look at this is that property rights enable freedom. Titles make property rights transferrable from one owner to another. (That has economic and social value which we will explain later in this post.) Even though you don’t have a property title for that book you bought, it is still considered property and you are legally acknowledge as the owner of that book. Specifically your book is a form of personal property. Possession of personal property is the most simple indication of title. If there is suspicion about someone’s ownership of the item, a proof of legal acquisition, such as a bill of sale or purchase receipt, could be necessary for an ownership transfer. But in nearly all cases of personal property, transfer of possession to a good faith purchaser will convey title, no document is required.

Environments without ownership rules and rights for individuals are chaos, an anarchistic state in which there is no protection, no longevity, no security or sustainability for one’s assets and belongings. There is no better example of this than the digital world.

In our digital lives, copyright has taken away our freedom.

Software first became valuable about 40 years ago. Those in power instituted a system of licensing instead of property titles.

Why did licensing become the standard? That requires a brief history lesson.

Originally, computer programs were not protected by copyrights because they were not considered fixed, tangible works. Object code was distinguished from source code. (Object code is instructions for machines — source codes are for humans.) Object code was viewed as a utilitarian good, produced from source code rather than as a creative work in and of itself.

The U.S. Copyright Office attempted to classify computer programs by drawing an analogy: the blueprints of a bridge and the resulting bridge, compared to the source code of a program and the resulting executable object code:

It was this very analogy that caused the Copyright Office to issue copyright certificates for object code under its Rule of Doubt.

In 1974, the newly established U.S. Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyrighted Works (CONTU) decided that computer programs, to the extent that they embody an author’s original creation, are proper subject matter of copyright.

Then in 1980, the U.S. Congress added the definition of computer program to existing copyright laws in order to allow the owner of the program to make another copy or adaptation for use on a computer. This legislation, plus court decisions such as Apple v. Franklin, clarified that the Copyright Act gave computer programs the copyright status of literary works. To simplify: Congress said compiling code is like writing War and Peace.

As a result, software companies began to claim that they did not sell their products but rather “licensed” them to customers. Why? Because this enabled them to avoid the transfer of property rights to the end-user via the first-sale doctrine. These software license agreements are now called end-user license agreements (EULAs).

The stuff you think you own in the digital world, isn’t actually yours.

It’s hard to overstate just how bad individuals have it.

For example, when you “buy” digital goods from the App Store, or when you “buy” books via Kindle, you’re not a owner. Apple and Kindle granted you a license to use their asset. This license is non-transferrable and revocable. This means that you can’t sell it on secondary markets or even give it away. And you’re beholden to their terms in using these assets, which they reserve the rights to change at anytime. In short, you thought you were buying but in fact you are renting. Licensing digital assets for use is as different from establishing digital property rights, as renting real estate is from owning buildings.

How can there be property rights on the internet for businesses but not individuals?

Individual humans create a lot of value by living their lives online — taking photos, sharing ideas and opinions, uploading personal financial and health information, and buying and storing things like music and movies.

In theory, individuals should capture at least some of the value they create. This afterall is the point of property systems, to reward those that create value with proper legal protection and ownership over their creations and inventions. Yet on the internet, property rights are actively discouraged.

Copyright law cannot empower individuals in their digital lives because the foundation of the internet was built on licensing. There are two distinct problems caused by adopting copyright as the dominant property type structure on the internet. First, most personal data cannot be copyrighted for the simple fact that it’s not a creative work; applying the rules that we use for creative works wouldn’t easily apply to (say) search history. Second, if you create digital work or information within these digital platforms, by their terms of service, they reserve the rights to make or sell future copies and even create derivative works from your asset. The ability to make derivative works is an immensely valuable exclusive right reserved for the copyright owner! (This is why, for example, Disney lobbies so hard to extend copyright terms.)

Within the current digital environment individuals are renters — seldom owners — regulated to renting rules. Big companies aim to build network growth for themselves by locking down your personal data and assets. They do everything in their legal power to reserve as many rights and control points as possible over your data. Big companies make money by tapping into the enormous amount of “free” information created by individual internet users, bundling it together and selling it to the highest bidder.

Most governments are not helping, either. Rules around how data can be owned, shared, and used are rare to nonexistent. And because of this, individuals are losing out.

When individuals own property, immense value is unlocked for everyone.

Data is the “oil” powering the digital economy. Data is the next major asset class. How much value can be unlocked for the world at large if individuals had property rights over data? That is unknown. But history can give us an idea:

The ability to privately own land gave birth to the agricultural revolution. This, we call real property. We know well how the rules of real property work: we can buy a home, rent it out, and bestow our valuable property to our heirs when the time comes.

When individuals forced the democratization of the ownership of ideas and inventions, after a brief period of time, the industrial revolution emerged. The legal framework of Intellectual property unlocked immense value for individuals and businesses alike by creating an entirely new economy.

Now, with data, we are in a dark age; individuals have no property rights. We have lost our freedom to benefit from the most important economy the world has ever seen. The Bitmark system was created to provide a legal and economic framework for digital property.

Digital property will level the playing field for who can achieve success online — creating new avenues for wealth, prosperity, and achievement on the Internet that are not currently possible for the vast majority of people.

The movement to restore freedom in our digital lives has already begun. Last month, we partnered with IFTTT to release a simple tool for digital estate planning. Subscribe to our newsletter and we will keep you updated about our progress transforming the internet into a new system built on individual freedom and empowerment.

By Bitmark Inc. on August 11, 2017.