Imaging company Eastman Kodak Co has tied up with a London-headquartered blockchain development firm to launch its own photo-centric cryptocurrency, KodakCoin.
The partnership with Wenn Digital for KodakCoin is part of a broader initiative called KodakOne, an image rights management platform that aims to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control of their work.
Kodak said in a statement that the platform will enable both amateur and professional photographers to sell their work on a secure blockchain network and receive payment immediately using KodakCoin.
The initial coin offering - a crowdfunded process through which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture - will open on January 31. It will be open to accredited investors from the US, UK, Canada and other select countries.
Shares of Kodak soared nearly 120% on the New York Stock Exchange after the company announced its cryptocurrency plans.
Kodak's decision to create KodakCoin comes amid a cryptocurrency boom. Bitcoin - the most prominent of these currencies - rose more than 1,000% in value in 2017, with peers such as Ethereum and Ripple also seeing their value more than double.
Using blockchain - a technology where online transactions are recorded online - the KodakOne platform will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and past work, the company said in a statement. Photographers can license their work within this platform.
“For many in the tech industry, ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ are hot buzzwords," said Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke. "But for photographers who’ve long struggled to assert control over their work and how it’s used, these buzzwords are the keys to solving what felt like an unsolvable problem,” Clarke said these technologies will help democratise photography and make licensing fair for artists.
KodakOne will constantly crawl the web to monitor and protect images registered in its system. If it detects unlicensed use of images, the platform will manage the post-licensing process in order to reward photographers.
“Subject to the highest standards of compliance, KODAKCoin is all about paying photographers fairly,” said WENN Digital CEO Jan Denecke.