Bitcoin and other pseudo-currencies are a hot topic right now, and startups are coming up with all sorts of ways to take advantage of the buzz by launching services which use buzzwords to hide the fact that they don't actually do anything new.
Here's how Blockai would have you think their service works:
- Create a piece of digital art, photo or anything that can be copyrighted.
- Register your copyright on the blockchain, a public ledger powered by Bitcoin. The record is permanent and immutable.
- Receive a registration certificate with cryptographic evidence that protects your copyright. You own the certificate forever.
- Share your creation with peace of mind. You have proof of publication that protects your copyright and copyright monitoring that alerts you when people are using your work.
While that sounds nice, it's a complete load of hooey from beginning to end.
What Blockai is doing is offering a 21st-century equivalent of a "poor man's copyright" service.
Do you know that old wive's tale about how you can mail yourself a manuscript as a way of showing when you created a work and thus protect your copyright?
The way it's supposed to work is that the unopened mail provides documentation as to when a work was created. But as Snopes.com, the US Copyright office, or anyone with a gram of legal knowledge will tell you, the poor man's copyright offers exactly zero protection against infringement (Snopes points out that this may not be the case in the UK, but I wouldn't bet on it).
The same is true for Blockai, its registry service, and the misleading claims about how much "protection" their service provides.
For example, on the very first page Blockai asks creators:
Do You Know Who Is Using Your Art/Photos/Designs/Cartoons?
Claim Your Copyright For Free And Find Out!
One doesn't need to "claim" a copyright with Blockai; a creator has the copyright the moment a work is created/published/fixed in a permanent form. Again, that's copyright 101.
Further down the page Blockai claims that:
Most artists can't afford to register and protect their copyrights. We're providing a free alternative.
Except this free alternative has no legal basis as a copyright registration and does not protect anyone's copyright.
Blockai's certificate won't do you any good if you need to send a DMCA notice to a website, and it won't help you if you need to file a lawsuit to protect your copyright.
You can't use that certificate to send a takedown notice, and a lawsuit will go exactly nowhere without a formal copyright registration with the US Copyright Office (this applies to the US, but not necessarily all countries).
The only thing that Blockai does which might have value is that they will search the web for copies of a registered work, but you can do that on your own with any search engine or use any of a hundred online services.
Edit: And as Alan Graham pointed out to me on Twitter, Blockai's claims in this area are just as much BS as the rest of their spiel. Blockai says that they offer "copyright monitoring that alerts you when people are using your work", when in reality Blockai can't catch an image when used in a Youtube video or when it's shared via a social network (which are encrypted). So again, Blockai is making promises they can't keep.
In fact, the only noteworthy detail about Blockai is that they are using the term blockchain as a buzzword. Aside from that, there is literally nothing new here.