A marketplace on a blockchain for the photo industry plans to expand into other means of digital content. The new platform Wemark leverages smart contracts, allowing photographers to license their content to customers directly, not giving up the rights to the middlemen and keeping an essential share of the revenue.
Distributed Stock Photo Marketplace Launched, Uses Direct Licenses From Creators
There are millions of professionals creating digital content around the world, and many more customers. However, the content distribution system is generally controlled by a few major centralized agencies. For creators, it means giving up a large part of their revenues, and most of their rights and control over content to distribution giants like Getty Images or Shutterstock. It also means increased prices for customers, which most of what they pay never even gets to the creator of the photo.
The Wemark solution to this issue is to create a distributed, peer-to-peer marketplace, on the blockchain network. To realize that, the company raised over $1 million from Palo Alto’s NFX Fund, Elevator Fund, Sarona Ventures and private investors.
Wemark has now released an alpha version of the marketplace. The company initially decided to start with photo content. As Wemark representatives pointed out, stock photography is the most centralized vertical in the digital content industry.Wemark claims to give an 85 percent royalty payment to photographers, “5 times higher than the industry average of 15 to 20 percent”.
The platform utilizes the Ethereum blockchain and develops specific smart contracts, which enables direct trading between content creators and customers with the help of a new licensing system.
The main feature is that photographers license their content directly to users, keeping all the rights. Wemark “signs” a digital distribution contract with creators, which includes a price range for licensing the content, the license to be issued to users, and the distribution fee paid to the platform. Once digitally signed, the contract and its terms are immutable and can only be changed with the consent of all parties.
There are several types of licenses to choose from, and all licenses are registered and kept on the blockchain.
Creators benefit from entirely new levels of transparency and retain large parts of the control they lost to distribution agencies.
Tai Kaish, Wemark’s CEO, said:
Wemark’s blockchain-based marketplace allows creators to benefit most of the advantages of distributing their content directly, while still providing customers with a single platform to access all the content in the network.
The Wemark platform already has more than 1 million photos in its collection, and the number is increasing. Content is provided by top-selling image producers including Monkey Business, Caia Image, and CAVAN.
The project is backed by the advisors with an experience in the digital content industry. Among them include the founder of Picasa Lars Perkins, co-founder of Forbes.com Miguel Forbes, and former Shutterstock executives Keren Sachs, director of content development, and Michael C. Lesser, vice president, and general counsel.
Keren Sachs said:
The world’s leading content providers have entrusted us with their photos before we have even licensed an image. They believe in what we are building and the future of the content licensing on the blockchain. We are honored and invigorated by the support from the creative community.
The platform will not stop at photography based content. According to Wemark’s roadmap, the marketplace will support other types of content such as illustrations, vectors, video, stock music and 3D models starting from Q1 2019.
The launch of the marketplace allows potential customers to experience the full platform, except the licensing and downloading if images which can only be done with Wemark tokens (WMK).
WMK will become available after the company’s tokens will be distributed to purchasers, scheduled for August 14, 2018.
The token will be used for licensing and accessing photos on the marketplace, as well as for all the transactions within the platform. Using WMK will enable direct transactions between photographers and customers. It will also be leveraged in the referral system to reward all parties that helped to promote the content.
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