From fine art to NFL highlights, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are disrupting the world of digital content. It’s more than just the pull of profit that has people buying in. Digital collectors and creators are at a frontier of something truly incredible, and it’s all because of one key characteristic of blockchains: decentralization.
Blockchains offer the ability to redistribute control to users, giving less to big corporations (the center) and more to the people. Soon, every image, song, story, gif, and moment in history will be available as an NFT. The transition is inevitable: when given the choice between giving up rights on a centralized platform and verifiable owner/authorship on the decentralized permaweb, it’s a no-brainer.
But before we pack up our lives and hitch our wagons for rumored gold out West, there is a massive ditch we have to cross first.
NFTs are Stuck in the Ditch
Today, every NFT’s content is accessible to anyone. Take Beeple’s $69 million NFT artwork for example. This masterpiece is just a few clicks away from being easily copied and downloaded. While this democratization of accessibility is one of the joys and revolutions of the digital ecosystem, we believe that people should have the agency to control access to the content they create and own.
Owning a non-gated NFT is essentially owning a digital deed of the art. The buyer pays the creator and now everyone in the world can see it, view it, and display it in their homes. All the owner walks away with is bragging rights.
Alternatively, a gated Beeple NFT is worth $69 million plus the exhibition revenue when the owner rents it out, or a dollar every time it’s displayed in an article. And sure, the rich getting richer off their investments isn’t anything new, but the artist and the early investors profiting in perpetuity is. What if an artist doesn’t gain fame until later in their career? Now, both that early collector who believed in a young artist’s vision and the artist profit when the original NFT is resold for millions.
Gated NFTs are the future, whether we like it or not. Everything eventually becomes monetized.
So how do you offer owners control without breaking the fundamental principles of decentralization that everyone is so excited about?
DRM is a Four-Letter Word
Gated digital content exists today with a centralized service called Digital Rights Management (DRM). Think copyright controls on games that block users from beating and selling the game for free. While great in theory, the issue with DRM is that the actual creators of the game have no sovereignty. Companies that use DRM, such as Amazon, Apple, or Microsoft, control the rights to other people’s creations and assets. The protection layer is meant to encourage impartiality, but is driven almost exclusively by big players trying to make a profit.
So, how do you DRM without DRM?
Darkblock Introduces PeRM
And thus, our bridge. Darkblock is a control panel for decentralized content. Contrary to DRM, creators choose how each NFT is distributed, shown, sold, rented, hidden, destroyed, or unlocked. Users can determine sliced ownership, royalty structures, and inherent properties, all while making sure their creations won’t be copied, distributed, or used outside of their intended purpose.
Darkblock will be the decentralized ground layer protocol enabling autonomy in the NFT space.
We call this protocol layer PeRM: Personal Rights Management. We feel that everyone should have control of their own creations and content without the possibility of interference as a matter of principle.
In keeping with the principles of the blockchain, no one person will control Darkblock. The users of the protocol layer will govern the platform, echoing a form of Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). New rollouts of software, the ability to embed work on other sites, or what features to apply to content will all be determined by the creators and patrons of the space.
All Decentralized Roads Lead to Darkblock
The NFTization of all digital content is coming, and with it various models of monetization. Darkblock is the key to establishing a decentralized creator economy. Without it, creators and curators lose control of their content and the blockchain loses the very essence it was created for.