A new report highlights how a new blockchain infrastructure, which is designed for Australia’s creative industries, could help overcome problems from missed royalty payments to art fraud and administrative overheads.
According to a recent press release, the report was prepared for the Australia Council for the Arts, Screen Australia and the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.
Blockchain to bring in transparency
It argues that a blockchain-based infrastructure could bring much needed transparency to the creative marketplace, while relieving the administrative burden faced by many creative practitioners.
It presents a hypothetical infrastructure called the Australian Creative Blockchain, which would enable a whole range of smoother transactions for artists.
Lead-author, Associate Professor Ellie Rennie from RMIT University’s Blockchain Innovation Hub, explained that blockchain was emerging as an opportunity to rebalance the cultural economy in favour of creative practitioners.
A blockchain-based infrastructure could enable simpler and more transparent transactions, easier contracting, fewer overheads and less reliance on middlemen.
The report outlines an ‘industry utility’ approach to cultural policy, in which Australia’s cultural institutions would cooperate to build a shared infrastructure to support and grow this segment of the economy.
Having a shared blockchain infrastructure for the creative industries would position Australia as a leader in the creative economy.
Australia Council CEO Adrian Collette shared that the report served as a useful provocation, which could hopefully prompt greater discussion across the sector.
Benefits of blockchain to the creative industry
The Australia Council recognises the vital importance of understanding the rapidly evolving environment in which artists are living and working, and the need to ensure viable artist careers into the future.
This exploration of potential applications of blockchain technology to the creative industries adds to the knowledge about predicted futures for arts and creativity within broader systems of technological, economic and socio-cultural change and disruption.
The Director of the University’s Blockchain Innovation Hub and also co-author Professor Jason Potts shared that the findings showed what industries, which rely on digital payments, especially micro-transactions and complex contracting between parties, stand to gain the most from the arrival of the blockchain technology.
The creative industries would benefit greatly from this new economic infrastructure, possibly more than any other segment of the economy.
The ability to authenticate an artwork as it passes from one buyer to the next, and to generate unique digital works, will also be a boon to those industries where scarcity is valued.
Although further research is needed to determine the feasibility of an Australian Creative Blockchain and how it might be piloted, the proposal suggests a shift in Australia’s cultural policy is likely needed to establish a blockchain infrastructure.
In addition, more economic analysis of the optimal approach to public finance, optimal social investment and the scope of regulation of creative industries utility are needed.
The report will be discussed at an industry forum, to be hosted by the Australia Council for the Arts, Screen Australia and AFTRS in early 2020.