To understand the complexities of digital rights management, or DRM, one must first understand the DRM challenges of current systems and then the challenges (and opportunities) of blockchain technology, which boasts of transparency, data linkage, and immutability as some of the key features that are appropriate for the trust systems.
In Web 2.0, content is created and distributed via a platform that acts as an intermediary and, like every intermediary, has developed business models that monetize the ways in which the content is distributed, the resulting data and metadata. Digital content (movies, pictures, music, etc.) can be easily replicated, and the platforms create economical trenches and controls for access to content with the intricate N-tier design of passwords, authentication, authorization and usage metering.
Over time, this has been exploited due to weaknesses in Web 2.0 technology, which was developed for information dissemination. Web 3.0, which is based on blockchain systems, questions this model by fundamentally changing the platform properties of Web 2.0-enabled platforms, since all of the constructs of Web 3.0 are decentralized (or in some cases quasi-decentralized), design-oriented models rotate and enforce basic principles of trade (of digital assets), trust (by protocol, i.e. consensus models), and ownership (right to the asset).
The advent of Web 3.0 is changing the basic computer models through the decentralization of computer models: storage and networking, enveloped by an incentive economic structure that promotes participation and engagement and creates a completely new platform of the economic structure. In a real digitally driven marketplace, the blockchain-operated network ensures that dynamic marketplace relationships and interactions are systemically and intelligently reflected.
Related: How NFTs, DeFi and Web 3.0 are intertwined
As we develop blockchain networks for industries, we see exciting new business models emerge that prompt many companies to rethink their current business models, competition, and the entire market landscape. This joint development implies openness and the ability for participants to exchange data across the nodes that support the new wave of Web 3.0 infrastructure. This implies the storage of data, content, and other valuable memes that reflect the digital community and peer-to-peer culture that is so essential to blockchain-based ecosystems.
How do you use these design and distribution principles to manage “digital rights” in the blockchain without clear standards for identity, access and interoperability challenges? The blockchain system is basically a transactional system backed up by a distributed computer for resilience and efficiency, and the constructs of the wallet (private-public-key structure) provide an eligibility framework for digital assets secured by the transactional system. DRM just doesn’t fit into the custody of private keys with wallets or claims on the assets. While ERC-721 and ERC-1155 offer a non-fungible token (NFT) framework, it certainly does not offer systemic support and technological protections that focus on a single platform.
Rethinking DRM for digital assets in digital ledgers
The revision of DRM requires a rethink beyond access to data and content that can be copied and replicated. We need to start by incorporating the concepts of value, property, and entitlement as design imperatives. These design imperatives can be part of the first tier, which would be systemic, or built as a tier 2 application or decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).
NFTs have revolutionized the creative landscape for art, culture, music, sports and more, but the nature of digital content and the dangers of such content persist, and it is not enough to provide this tokenized representation with encrypted verification and a validation process guaranteed by the blockchain pack. That is, because these are limited to a single network and may need to use bridges to move the tokenized representations with additional verification, and this only affects ownership or entitlement. It does not guarantee “rights”.
We need to embark on a model built on top of digital ledger technology and systems, treat digital rights as irrefutable claims, and include licensing and assignment in access and claims to a tokenized representation. This can be achieved by developing an identity as an NFT token and then using the token with licensing and assignment that provides irrefutable entitlement and access, thereby delegating the assignment to the tokenized representation. Such a design includes a multi-token model that would need to be merged for claims and access – like z or licensing and an attribution metamodel. The model would use the web 3.0 economy structure to store, review, and deliver content.
My remarkable learning with Decentralized Information Assets (DIA)
To understand this space, I wanted to immerse myself in innovative teams focused on solving some crippling industry problems and forced to think creatively about digital rights management as part of the solution. After doing a lot of research, I came across DIA and was fortunate to work with an incredibly talented team of people who are doing all they can to solve some very important problems in providing market data with Oracle.
In most markets, market data is the price of an instrument (an asset, security, commodity, etc.) and trade-related data. This data reflects market and asset class volatility, volume and trade specific data such as open, high, low, close, volume (OHLCV). It also contains other value-adding data such as order book data (bid-ask spread, aggregated market depth, etc.) and pricing and valuation (reference data, traditional financial data such as first exchange rates, etc.). This market data is vital to various financial econometrics and applied finance.
In order to coordinate with the thematic interaction models of Web 3.0, this market data and aggregated data from various sources would not only have to comply with decentralized and Web 3.0 principles, but also real digital handshakes in which projects or DAOs can interact with one another and digital objects, while virtual representations operate. With this team, I learned a lot about solving the problems of efficiently using oracles with a focus on decentralized design and enterprise access, which highlighted the DRM design structure.
The imperative was a toll structure with a DIA-triggered token called Autonomous Right Token or ART, which provided access to a set of aggregated or custom market data. This essentially creates the data infrastructure to enable a harmonized, interconnected metaverse that further enables a tokenized NFT to include not only digital rights (via an ART) to market data, but also all the virtues of a token on secondary markets and the ART transferred to. Notably, the design uses NFTs to store, track, and enforce data rights and enables fully decentralized lifecycle management for licenses from creation to distribution to tracking and monetization. While much remains to be done, creative ideas like this represent the innovative thinking the industry needs to solve some very complex problems related to the tokenized presentation of content. Twitter’s NFT verification is another great example.
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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Nitin Gaur is the founder and director of IBM Digital Asset Labs, where he develops industry standards and use cases and works to bring blockchain to business. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer of IBM World Wire and IBM Mobile Payments and Enterprise Mobile Solutions, and founded IBM Blockchain Labs, where he led efforts to establish blockchain practice for the company. Gaur is also a well respected IBM engineer and master IBM inventor with a rich patent portfolio. He also works as a research and portfolio manager for Portal Asset Management, a multi-manager fund specializing in digital assets and DeFi investment strategies.