Collection of Kodak films

Kodak launches “photo-centric cryptocurrency”, KodakCoin

Image credit: Dreamstime

At CES 2018 in Las Vegas (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show), Kodak announced a venture into the cryptocurrency sector with the establishment of its own currency and a project to mine Bitcoin at its headquarters.

The photography company will collaborate with Wenn Media Group to create KodakCoin, its own cryptocurrency. The initial coin offering will open on 31 January.

KodakCoin is just one aspect of a blockchain-based program named KodakONE to protect the rights of photographs and help them collect their royalties. Through this program, photographers may license their work using KodakCoin.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

The KodakONE project uses software to search for photographs online which have been used without authorisation. The company then organises for the photographer to be paid for rights to their image in KodakCoin.

“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 Jeff Clarke, Kodak CEO.

“Kodak has always sought to democractise photography and make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that.”

At CES 2018, Kodak also announced that it plans to begin mining Bitcoin – the first decentralised virtual currency – at its New York headquarters through a scheme called ‘Kodah KashMiner’.

Cryptocurrencies rely on solving cryptographic problems to validate transactions to add to their blockchains – public ledgers of transaction. Cryptocurrency mining is the use of huge amounts of computational power to solve these problems, in return for a small amount of new currency.

At the show, Kodak presented “mining rig” boxes intended for this energy-intensive activity which include fans to keep them cool as they run around the clock.  It will also rent out these mining rigs to customers keen to try it for themselves, with profits being shared between customer and Kodak. According to Kodak, the mining rigs can be powered considerably more cheaply than a rig at home.

Formerly dominant in the world of photography, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012; its delay in embracing digital photography is credited with this. Since then, it has struggled back from collapse, selling many of its patents for approximately half a billion dollars to companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft Facebook and Amazon.

Following Kodak’s announcements at CES 2018, its shares briefly exploded in value by approximately 120 per cent, although some commentators expressed confusion over why the move into the cryptocurrency sector is relevant for the photography company, as well as expressing scepticism about the increasing number of companies and governments creating their own currencies.

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