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The Mediachain Digital Asset Provenance And Interoperability Protocol

by Ralph Windsor on April 15, 2016

Recently, while researching more blockchain-related innovations, I came across Mediachain.  This is a protocol intended to make it easier for distributed applications to access provenance information about digital assets in a de-centralised manner (i.e not held on a pre-designated server).  Any modifications to either the asset essence or its metadata are recorded cryptographically using a blockchain (hence the name) so it is possible to view previous versions and see the changes that were made:

Mediachain is a collaborative federated media metadata protocol that allows parties to make statements about creative works. The metadata statements are cryptographically signed by the contributor, timestamped in the Bitcoin blockchain, and stored in IPFS. The statements can then be looked up via perceptual search using an instance of the media itself.” [Read More]

The components cover all of the key elements I proposed for a DAM interoperability protocol back in 2013.  They go quite a bit further than my more rudimentary model by using perceptual hashes to allow binary data from one representation to be used to locate a canonical asset.  This is the same method as used by image search engines (like Google Images etc) to find one asset by supplying another as a reference.

Some of these concepts are quite difficult to grasp and to explain them, they have written a useful article on the David Bowie ‘GIF that fell to earth’ to illustrate how it works, from which this quote is illuminating:

In the future, if you have an image that comes up in your feed and you know nothing about it, you could look up its mediachain and find its history. Imagine that, given only the anonymous Bowie GIF, you’d be able to find out that Helen Green is the artist, send her a micropayment, see what press the image received, find more works by the artist, and contribute a statement to the chain that one of the frames was inspired by the Aladdin Sane album cover for others to see.” [Read More]

Those with an interest in preserving proof of ownership of digital assets might find this of particular relevance.  As with other technologies (like embedded metadata) it should be obvious that these also can be applied to interoperability also in order to simplify the process of exchanging digital assets across a value chain.

Mediachain is further proof (if any were needed) that the action in terms of Digital Asset Management innovation is moving away from system vendors and towards those more interested in digital asset infrastructures and interoperability protocols, especially blockchain-oriented ones.

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