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News & Insight

Protect Your Photos | Blockai Uses Blockchain To Help Change The Face of Copyright Protection

By Justin Heyes on July 29th 2016

Issues about copyrights seem to pop up every few weeks. Just this week Carol Highsmith, a photographer who donated her life’s work to the Library of Congress, is suing Getty Images for “gross misuse” of her photographs and copyright infringement. As of late, the only surefire way to copyright your images was to register them with the US Copyright Office, a lengthy and expensive route if you register one photo at a time. Blockai is an new player that wants to help change the face of copyright protection.


While copyrights are more corporate centered and rather vague, it is not necessary for artist and creatives to register with the US Copyright Office to maintain a copyright (though it certainly does help in legal issues). Blockai wants to change the way we register and protect our work online, through the power of the blockchain.

[REWIND: 10 Creative Ways to Supplement Your Photography Income ]


For those unfamiliar with the blockchain, it is the public ledger used to verify bitcoin transactions. Each transaction is timestamped and issued a unique file record that is virtually impossible to replicate or manipulate. Blockai wants to assist artists and photographers by making it easy to timestamp your protected works and attempting to spot those infringing on your intellectual property by scouring the Web for offenders.

The blockchain is the perfect solution for providing proof of creation. It’s a permanent immutable record. Meaning, once the record is there it’s there forever and will never change.” – CEO of Blockai Nathen Lands

Registration of images is a simple as drag-and-drop. Once registered, you will receive a copyright certificate with a timestamp proving the time it was created. If Blockai finds that someone is reproducing your work without permission you can send them a copy of the certificate and issue a cease and desist or DMCA notice, make websites have to remove your work or be legally liable.


Does it have a legal foot to stand on? According to Lands, it hasn’t happened yet, but “we believe that a record created on the blockchain using Blockai would serve as sufficient evidence in a court of law.” And hopefully you won’t have to go to court at all, since sending the certificate seems “a lot more serious than sending them an Instagram picture.

Like Bitcoin, there is no centralized government that is backing the the project. According to Blockai, “To be rewarded damages in a lawsuit, you need to register with the Copyright Office. If you have proof of publication, you have 5 years to register with the Government.” To register with the US Copyright office is $55 per registration and you can upload hundreds of pictures at a time.

[RELATED: Copyright Infringement Problem Plagues Our Community | Advice On How To Deal ]


Copyright registration has been being stuck in the 70s, Blockai might change the face on copyright protection and bring it to the modern day. If you are interested in giving it a try head over to the Blockai website and give it a try; I know I will incorporated it into my workflow.

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Art Mann

    Though Blockai might be a useful service when used in international countries, in the United States, a Blockai certificate is like many other time-stamping-photo-recording methods, including the poor-man’s copyright–it won’t hold up in court!

    Speaking from over ten years of experience, I’ve filed 100+ registered copyrights (via group-registrations) and settled against a billion dollar media publisher. I searched the US Copyright Office’s on-line database for registered works filed under your name (“Justin Heyes”), but couldn’t locate any. Please tell me if I’m mistaken.

    CEO of Blockai Nathen Lands states, “The blockchain is the perfect solution for providing proof of creation.” And “We believe that a record created on the blockchain using Blockai would serve as sufficient evidence in a court of law.”

    To have legal standing (the right to bring forth a copyright infringement suit), you MUST register your copyright with the US Copyright Office. A Blockai certificate is not a substitute for a Copyright Office-issued Certificate of Registration. See 17 USC § 411(a) (Registration and civil infringement actions) and (Page 7).

    If you register your photograph before publication or within five-years of first-publication, you’re granted “presumptive proof” (prima facie evidence) that:

    1) You actually authored/created your photograph;
    2) You have evidence of a valid copyright; and
    3) All the information (facts) you included in your copyright registration application is deem valid unless it is refuted by the court. See 17 § USC 410(c) and (Page 7) and

    Contrary to what Blockai states, registering your copyright is the best way to prove your creation to a federal judge.

    You wrote, “Copyright registration has been being stuck in the 70s.”

    Curious, how can you say that if you’ve never personally registered a copyright?

    Even with its limited budget, the US Copyright Office continues to make steady progress to modernize the copyright registration process from paperform to an on-line eCO (aka “e-Filing”) system. The Copyright Office continues to update its website and its on-line public database of recorded copyrights. It also produces circulars of information and free copyright registration tutorials: Single Application: and Standard Application:

    Gordon Firemark, Los Angeles entertainment attorney, sums it up best with his “7 Big Benefits of [Timely] Registering Your Copyrights Early”: Public Record; Right to sue; Prima Facie proof of ownership; Defeats the innocent infringer defense; Statutory damages; Attorney’s fees; and Import restriction. See Blockai can NOT provide any of those legal benefits!

    In the end, Blockai might be a good service to help monitor copyright infringements, but skip its certification service, even if it’s free.

    Justin: By timely registering your wedding & engagement photographs (, you provide your clients with additional legal protection, just in case a corporate or media company uses those private photographs without a license. Your registered copyrights really count to both you & your clients!

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  2. Peter McWade

    Free until when? Idea is good.

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  3. Rob Kirkland

    This sounds like a great idea. I imagine it would be quite annoying to find out someone was profiting off your work.

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