Photographic products firm Eastman Kodak revealed plans to mint its own crypto-currency, the KodakCoin, sending shares in the company soaring 120 per cent. The US firm will be teaming up with London-based Wenn Media Group to carry out the initial coin offering (ICO).
The move comes as part of a blockchain-based initiative to help photographers control their image rights. The company also detailed plans for installing rows of Bitcoin mining rigs at its headquarters in Rochester, New York.
Details of the second scheme, which is being branded as the Kodak KashMiner were outlined at the CES tech show in Las Vegas. Customers would be required to pay up-front to rent mining capacity.
''For many in the tech industry, 'blockchain' and 'cryptocurrency' are hot buzzwords, 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,'' said Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke. ''Kodak has always sought to democratise photography and make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that.''
Kodak is the latest among several companies to see its value jump after it revealed plans for blockchain-related activity.
"This is a phenomenon we saw back during the dot com days in the late 1990s where traditional companies would mention some kind of internet strategy and their stock price would jump up," commented Garrick Hileman from the University of Cambridge. When you see stock prices moving like this it does appear to be troubling - it's hard to say if there's a bubble but it certainly is indicative of a frothy investment market."
Kodak said in a press release, ''Today Kodak and WENN Digital, in a licensing partnership, announced the launch of the KODAKOne image rights management platform and KODAKCoin, a photo-centric cryptocurrency to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.
"Utilising blockchain technology, the KODAKOne platform will create an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archive work that they can then license within the platform. With KODAKCoin, participating photographers are invited to take part in a new economy for photography, receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, and for both professional and amateur photographers, sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform. KODAKOne platform provides continual web crawling in order to monitor and protect the IP of the images registered in the KODAKOne system. Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, the KODAKOne platform can efficiently manage the post-licensing process in order to reward photographers."
''Engaging with a new platform, it is critical photographers know their work and their income is handled securely and with trust, which is exactly what we did with KODAKCoin,'' said WENN Digital CEO Jan Denecke. ''Subject to the highest standards of compliance, KODAKCoin is all about paying photographers fairly and giving them an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new economy tailored for them, with secure asset rights management built right in.''
"The initial coin offering will open on 31 January, 2018 and is open to accredited investors from the US, UK, Canada and other select countries. This initial Coin Offering is issued under SEC guidelines as a security token under Regulation 506 (c) as an exempt offering."