While the extensive uses of blockchain are still being understood, implications must be reasoned through a conscientious appreciation of reality

Reality being, in short, that which does not disappear even after you stop believing in it


Today we look at the art industry and possible effects of technologies allowing secure data recording. Clarification of semantics in such fields of debate is critical. Specifically what is the art being discussed and what reach do these distributed [digital] ledgers legitimately entail in so far as their everyday, physical world [non-digital] influence. We turn to a short article and long info-graphic from Andrew Rosso in conjunction with Coin Central:


"Blockchain is proving to be a versatile technology with a wide variety of applications. The obvious application is cryptocurrency, but blockchain tech is also being used to build smart contracts, give land titles greater integrity, and secure government records. While these applications are still in their infancy, there is one application that has the potential to save an entire industry: preventing art theft.

How Bad Is Online Art Theft? |  Would it shock you to learn that 64% of professional photographers have had their work stolen over 200 times online? It’s not surprising that 49% of the culprits were bloggers and social media users, but it might surprise you to find out that 28% of the offenders were businesses, and 72% of those businesses altered stolen work to avoid detection. In 2017 alone, piracy websites were visited over 300 billion times worldwide. Stolen music costs the music industry $12.5 billion a year. There’s a fundamental misunderstanding that the internet is to blame in many of these cases – just because you can take something online doesn’t mean that you should. It’s free to look at or to listen to, not to take.

Art Theft In The Non-Digital World Is A Centuries-Old Problem | Currently, Interpol has over 51,000 pieces of stolen artwork registered – even the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and wasn’t recovered until the thief tried to sell it in 1913. Since 2004, the FBI has recovered $160 million in stolen artwork, a fraction of what is missing worldwide. Provenance is a major issue in the art trade, whether you are a buyer, seller, museum, or broker. Proving that you have the right to a particular work of art is a serious issue, and there may be an opportunity for blockchain to help provide that information.

What Is Blockchain, And How Can It Prove That You Own A Work Of Art? | Blockchain is a set of technologies that form a public ledger in a chain formation, each link of which contains data about the previous link. This makes any tampering attempt immediately evident, since the ledger should be exactly the same across the whole network. Comparing timestamps and hash values can indicate that a record is valid. This is key in proving provenance, which up until now has often been susceptible to forgery.

Currently, there are a few different options in the world of blockchain technology that can help prevent theft and forgery. The first is Verisart, a free blockchain-based service that uses image recognition software to verify works of art and issue certificates of authenticity. That registry stays on the blockchain until the verification is needed again. The second is Ascribe, which allows creators of digital works of art to create timestamped proof of ownership and transfer, and alerts creators when their works of art are used.

Blockchain Is Also Used To Make Art | Protecting art isn’t blockchain’s only function – it is actually being used to create digital art collectables. CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties, and AnimeCoin are all blockchain-based digital collectibles in which value comes from owning original one-of-a-kind artwork. Blockchain technology is already changing the world. How will it change art? Learn more about blockchain’s impact in art from this infographic | May 28th 2018, Andrew Rosso, Esq on The Merkle"

Coincentral-BlockchainImpactArt-1-The Other Fruit - Making Choice Personal

"... just because you can take something online doesn't mean that you should. It's free to look at or to listen to, not to take"


The sentiment conflates two important topics. Firstly digitization is to inherently make content [often perfectly] reproducible. At its core digital actions process series of 1's and 0's which in this case, through various devices and browsers, form to portray artwork

Previously possession might have proved theft. To a large extent through one's personal digital device if something is free to look at or listen to technically, this constitutes a form of possession. While undoubtedly not applying to blatant for profit implementation of copyrighted materials, a line between viewership and ownership is comparatively blurred

As evidenced by ongoing piracy by private individuals via torrent sites, digitization of content in many instances may not draw a psychologically clear or at least potent delineation between viewing and owning. For digital content this difference ultimately results in the same consumption activity, just with or without the voluntary procurement of a receipt

Secondly the art industry is under discussion. Wider questions around promotion, appreciation and exposure enter. To propose access becoming possible only following payment is not justifiable. Such a path perhaps theoretically pertains to types of registered commercial work's with tracked usage. Although it is not practical to suggest solutions whereby an authorized ID and credit card is required before all types of artworks are made available. To collate then offer secure access tracking via one channel only would be to literally encase creativity

classifying 'art'


From street art to sculpture, performance to body art - no clear proposition for improvement and security through utilization of blockchain technology has been made. $12.5 billion stolen annually from the music industry points to this. To claim in 'saving an industry' without classifying participant activities is to not address the state of affairs genuinely experienced

real world implication


Proof of authenticity and movement is a commendable and an immediately practical use of blockchain. Equally these capacities cannot solve most of the violations referenced. Although 51,000 pieces are registered by Interpol as stolen the benefit of blockchain authentication would only assist in prosecution of sufficiently apprehended criminals

Assistance in physically catching violators is not presently thought of as within the blockchain's realm. Not least of which when something has been 'stolen' this indicates that the thief would logically not advertise nor register possession in any mainstream manner. Black markets are different to Ebay or Amazon

The aforementioned number of Interpol registered stolen works also does not constitute even a fractional percentage of total art sales and ownership across almost any time scale chosen through out the preceding decades

Likewise the majority of photographers who had each of their works stolen 'hundreds of times' in 2016 would need to successfully prosecute violators proved to be in possession of their work. Then it is only the violators who have further been proved to be using this work for profit who may be liable. On or off a blockchain the massive task in identification of violators, requirements of issuing warning communications or following appropriate protocols and then regional legislation dictating subsequent actions all compound as equating to a costly undertaking reaping almost imperceptibly minimal [if any] returns. Edits or adjustments to works may further preclude any automated initial identification of such violators

Piracy site visits statistics referenced (exceeding 300 billion in 2017), only highlight the reality of digital content consumption behaviors. Necessarily, decentralized access to and use of technologies allows participants to formulate information exchanges outside any one centralized hub. If this was not the case then all media consumption could presently be tracked through Netflix, Amazon, Apple's iTunes or similar retailers. Obviously, it cannot

whom + how


Art in all it's possible forms and classifications may very generally be held as resulting in an evocation of emotion. Thus viewership or otherwise measured consumption is mandatory. Blockchain is however data recording requiring implementation

The introduction of blockchain technologies absolutely confers possible security enhancements regarding certain channel specific uses of tracking, sales and or registrations. However the creation, sharing, viewing and ownership of artwork cannot be predicted as always managed through a single channel. One digital channel may perfectly execute blockchain tracking. All people though may utilize different digital or physical channels

Throughout this development our first priority must be to ensure immutable, timestamped and robust certification is personally ascribed to creators. However the subsequently produced registrations may be analyzed or implemented has yet to be defined. But right now, artists can and should have a clear way to claim what is rightfully theirs. This is what TOF® provides

a new utility


on the blockchain