NEW YORK (AP) — Kodak, which traces its roots to the early days of film-based photography, is getting into the digital licensing and cryptocurrency market as part of a partnership with WENN Digital.
The companies are launching blockchain technology with KodakOne and KodakCoin. Blockchain is a ledger where transactions of digital currencies, like bitcoin, are recorded.
“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 democratize photography and make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that.”
Rochester, New York-based Kodak, founded in 1880, is the latest company to enter the cryptocurrency market as Bitcoin makes gains. Bitcoin has surged from less than $1,000 a year ago to more than $14,000.
Recently, Long Island Iced Tea Corp. said it plans to change its name to Long Blockchain Corp., as it wants to focus more on blockchain technology, while continuing to make beverages.
The Kodak systems will allow photographers to register work that they can license and then receive payment.
According to Clarke, the KodakOne system will not just allow licensing and payment, but will also search online for anyone using licensed images in an unauthorized way.
“Kodak has always sought to democratize photography and make licensing fair to artists,” he said. “These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that.”
The initial coin offering will open Jan. 31.
“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.”
Shares of Eastman Kodak Co. surged 42 percent to $4.40 in afternoon trading. The stock has been slumping over the last year, shedding more than 70 percent of its value.
“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 Clarke.
Kodak and others are entering the market as warnings grow over the riskiness of virtual currencies and the potential for a bubble. There are no regulations over the creation and use of virtual currencies and the nature of the transactions make them hard to trace.