As Andrew Hill points out, blockchain enthusiasts have often mentioned rights management as one of the more promising applications of digital ledger technology. @willms_ listed half a dozen initiatives back in August 2016, and blockchain investor @alextapscott had a piece about it in the Harvard Business Review last year.
In recent years, Kodak has been held up (probably unfairly) as an example of a company that didn't understand digital. Perhaps to rub this message home, today's story in the Verge is illustrated with stock footage of analogue film. But the bounce in the share price indicates that many investors are willing to give Kodak another chance to prove its digital mettle.
However, some commentators are cynical.
The shambling remains of Kodak are running an ICO to start a site that's Shutterstock but web-searching for usages. And, for absolutely no reason whatsoever, a blockchain and an ICO token. Legalities presumably in order - accredited investors only. https://t.co/zFL1nftRxa— David Gerard (@davidgerard) January 9, 2018
The point of blockchain is to support distributed trust. But the rights management service provided by Kodak doesn't rely on distributed trust, it relies entirely on Kodak. If you trust Kodak, you don't need the blockchain to validate a Kodak-operated service; and if you don't trust Kodak, you probably won't be using the service anyway. So what's the point of blockchain in this example?
Chloe Cornish, Kodak pivot to blockchain sends shares flying (FT, 9 January 2018)
Chris Foxx and Leo Kelion, CES 2018: Kodak soars on KodakCoin and Bitcoin mining plans (BBC News, 9 January 2018)
David Gerard, Kodak’s ICO for a stock photo site that doesn’t exist yet. But the stock price! (10 January 2018)
Jeremy Herron, Kodak Surges After Announcing Plans to Launch Cryptocurrency Called 'Kodakcoin' (Bloomberg, 9 January 2018)
Andrew Hill, Kodak’s convenient click into the blockchain (FT, 9 January 2018)
Shannon Liao, Kodak announces its own cryptocurrency and watches stock price skyrocket (The Verge, 9 January 2018)
Willy Shih, The Real Lessons From Kodak’s Decline (Sloan Management Review, Summer 2016)
Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Could Help Artists Profit More from Their Creative Works (HBR, 22 March 2017)
Jessie Willms, Is Blockchain-Powered Copyright Protection Possible? (Bitcoin Magazine, 9 August 2016)
Blockchain and the Edge of Disruption - Brexit (September 2017)
Blockchain and the Edge of Disruption - Fake News (September 2017)