by Diana Ngo
Monegraph, a platform that uses the bitcoin blockchain to allow digital creators to create licenses for their works, has officially launched with the help of New York-based law firm Pryor Cashman.
Led by Pryor Cashman partners William Charron, who co-chairs the law firm’s Art Law group, Rob deBrauwere and John Crowe, Monegraph is a web-based platform that aims at facilitating transfers of digital art directly between artists, such as photographers and designers, and content buyers.
“Monegraph is paving the way for nearly instantaneous digital exchanges of art,” Charron said in a statement. “Just as people look for a little circled ‘c’ to know that something is copyrighted, in relatively short order they will look for the scripted ‘M’ to know that something is ‘Monegraphed.’ It will become part of the commercial art and legal vernacular.”
Monegraph allows artists to create and customize a license contract that defines the usage parameters for media. Its system streamlines licensing, payment processing, media handling and distribution, and will use the bitcoin blockchain certify, document and verify each piece of work.
Information about a specific work, such as its creator, its owner,and its license terms are stored both in Monegraph’s database and on the Bitcoin blockchain, the company said.
“This helps provide an independent verification of the attribution and ownership information, so you stay in control of your intentions around your work,” Monegraph claims. “It also is part of the digital signature process that shows that a contract has been executed and a hand-off of rights has occurred.”
Monegraph currently supports four different licenses: an Artwork license for non-commercial use and personal enjoyment; a News Photo license for editorial, non-commercial use; a Product Image license, a more typical, commercial rights-managed license; and a Snapshot license, a commercial agreement that gives virtually all rights to the buyer.
These licenses are binding legal agreements between the owner of the work and the buyer, and are legally enforceable in a court of law.
For a specific artwork, the artist or current owner can select whether he or she wants to sell it, license it, resell it, or remix the rights. He or she also has the ability to set an appropriate price. Buyers can acquire the rights directly, without brokers, and can openly verify that the title and artist attribution through the blockchain.
Currently, Monegraph handles all the blockchain transactions but will in the future support the ability to export the blockchain records of license contracts for those who want to self-manage their rights-licensing process.
Payments are handled through Stripe and users will need to comply with the company’s registration process, which can vary depending on location. For example, US residents will need to provide banking details, bank account number, routing number, Social Security Number, and address.
Monegraph follows the lead of other startups such as Ascribe and Verisart that are using decentralized technologies to help artists and collectors with new ways to verify the authenticity of artwork, and provide digital provenance to works that can be verified online and in real-time.