Blockchain Workshop Position Statement

Author: Chris Tse (Monegraph)

My name is Chris Tse. I am been an Open Web advocate for many years. I served as the Head of Research & Development for McGraw-Hill Labs, where I pioneered the use of card-based UI, which are composable user interfaces built using Web Platform technologies to aid teaching and learning. I am currently the Chief Technology Officer of Monegraph Inc, a W3C member, focusing on solving the underlying rights and licensing challenges when content is distributed through fragmented channels across traditional, over-the-top, as well as social media.

The web is a place where content is created, viewed, shared, and of course, monetized. Monetization of content requires the coordination of the roles of creators, promoters, distributors, sponsors, consumers, etc. The system we have is at best a patchwork. The streaming music industry struggle to compensate composers is a just small example of the problem.

To solve this problem, we need to, at minimum, associate the identity of the right holders or beneficiaries, with the indelible fingerprint of the media, and the licensing terms and resulting obligations upon this media is made available.

Monegraph is participating as a co-chair in W3C’s Permissions and Obligations Expression (POE) Working Group, looking to help define in semantic terms a license agreement and policues associated with a piece of media. We are using a previous version of the POE called ODRL (Open Digital Rights Language) in production to help creators declare the intention of the type of rights they would like to offer.

After right license are agreed upon by the licenser and licensee, the final agreement can be hashed and encoded in the blockchain to as a Proof-of-Existence, so both parties, as well as a third-parties, can verify and inspect. As the owner of the rights are transferred or sublicensed, we can use the transactional history of the underlying blockchain to show the provenance of the work to validate or invalidate the underlying usage rights claims by the licensee. In our current implementation, the licenses exist on our hosted web service, serving as a bridge between the user and the blockchain.

At the W3C Blockchain Workshop, I would like to lead a discussion about how blockchain-backed licenses can be declared in the HTML markup using microdata such as JSON-LD, embedded in the media themselves with references to blockchain addresses, or associated and inspect via a cross-browser pluggable framework similar to payment apps proposed by the Web Payments group. The media monetization landscape will improve with the end user interaction device is rights aware. I see important overlap with the identity and web payment work at the W3C and in the blockchain community. A W3C semantic standard backed a blockchain-based verification will ensure a diversity of contractual terms and monetization paths for the vast array media that will power the economy of Open Web going forward.