In our numerous copyright lectures, we always discuss copyright myths and “mythconceptions”. There is one myth, that like Dracula, refuses to die. Like a zombie myth, continually rising from the dead. It’s known as “The Poor Man’s Copyright”.

That’s where instead of filing your copyright at the Copyright Office in accordance with Federal Law, you put your photo or photos in a sealed envelope and mail it to yourself through the US Postal system. Doing so proves nothing other than you mailed yourself an envelope of photos on that date. Photographers and illustrators typically perform this absurd act,

not on the advice of an attorney, but rather because a fellow creator with no legal training and told them to do so. (Not unlike receiving medical advice from an exterminator)

Claiming that act provides copyright protection is laughable. Legally, it means zilch, nada, zero and nothing.  As we’ve explained numerous times, failure to make a proper copyright registration with the Copyright Office in Washington DC means you can’t file a lawsuit for infringement. Period. Filing is only a problem if you fail to do so. We can laugh at gullible people who continually buy this urban legend. How foolish of them. Chuckle chuckle. Dilly dilly.

OK, so now KodakOne announces they are doing a Blockchain copyright that “registers” and protects your copyright. Folks, this means as much legally as putting your laptop in an envelope and mailing it to yourself. It’s our opinion that advertising a blockchain registration as a copyright registration will get these companies in legal hot water, in our opinion. It confuses consumers into thinking they are being protected. Part of their scheme is that they will “negotiate” usage when they find infringements. There’s a bunch of legal problems with how current companies touting such services (and most of them, including the CEO of KodakOne, seem to be based in Germany) but the main issue is it appears they will try and settle without a proper United States copyright registration issued by The Copyright office.

So let’s say, you’re a photographer, you signup for this blockchain registration, and it sounds cool because they’re mining their own cryptocurrency, their own “bitcoins”. How cutting edge. Saying they are mining their own coins using Kodak’s own power plants, is making the Kodak stock skyrocket. But it looks like a magician holding something shining in one hand, which he fools you with the other hand. Cryptocoins are shiny objects and your photo is in the other hand. Let’s say they find an infringement of your photo. Because you are signed with them, you gave up your rights to pursue the infringements as they per the agreement with them, pursue the infringement for you. For this “service” they charge fees higher than most competent attorneys charge and you are likely to net less money as their personnel are not attorneys familiar with the settlement value of these matters in US Federal Courts.

Let’s say that Ed, who is well versed in copyright law, is the lawyer representing the infringer, let’s put the black hat on him. First thing Ed would ask for, from whomever from KodakOne or Pixsy or whatever company has the right to pursue this contacts him, the very first thing, is to see the copyright registration.

KodakOne or Pixsy says “Show me the money!” Ed answers “Show me the US government issued copyright registration certificate!” If they say they don’t have it or it’s not registered, Ed would simply say, “Fine, don’t bother me with this until and unless it’s registered. Go away”. And as a practical matter there’s nothing they can do unless and until they make an application to register the subject work(s).  We’ve seen this and have seen photographers get stalled and stalled until they finally realize, the people fighting for them have been stonewalled and aren’t doing a thing. Because they can’t do a thing. They are reluctant to hire and pay lawyers to represent their clients and unable to make a quick easy settlement decide not to pursue the matter.

Don’t get us wrong, blockchain technology might have applications in copyright and copyright protection, but not unless the government incorporates it in some manner with currents laws and with the Copyright Office. Someone on line in social media said it’s a “new idea” out there and we shouldn’t pooh pooh it. Well we know pooh when we see it and this right now smells like a dung pile. In our humble opinion.

(More, much more to come on the realities and pitfalls of employing search services to pursue or defend claims of copyright infringement in our next article. Stay tuned!)