Introduction by Eric Esnault: The subject of provenance, or more broadly of authenticity, is one of the most sensitive in the art world, and constitutes an important part of its litigation.
The challenge is to obtain reliable information on the successive owners of a work and the certainty that the latter is not a fake. In this area, the use of a new technology such as the blockchain would represent a real breakthrough.
Eric Esnault: Digital Authentication of Works
Digital Works Authentication is the process of verifying the authenticity of a digital work. There are several ways to authenticate a digital work, but the most common method is to use digital signatures. A digital signature is a mathematical scheme that allows someone to verify the authenticity of a digital work. In order to create a digital signature, the creator of the work first creates a hash of the work.
A hash is a number that represents the content of the work. The creator then encrypts the hash with their private key. The encrypted hash is called the signature. To verify the authenticity of the work, anyone can decrypt the signature with the creator’s public key. If the decrypted signature matches the hash of the work, it is verified as an authentic work of the creator
Eric Esnault: Explains the importance of the blockchain digital Certificate of Authenticity
Creating a blockchain digital certificate of authenticity is essential to guarantee the value of the work to the buyer, but he must scrupulously repeat all the elements constituting the work: the description, the computer media, the legal notices of authenticity and the rights of use. This information must be recorded on the blockchain so as to be legally recognized in the event of transfer and/or litigation, which implies compliance with certification standards and the correct use of the blockchain.
Some American states, such as Vermont, have adopted legislation allowing the use of blockchain for probative purposes. Similarly in June 2018, a Chinese court ruled that the registration made on a blockchain for a website could be considered as evidence in an infringement case. In France the situation is more mixed. Indeed, according to the regulation of July 23, 2014 on electronic identification and trust services (known as eIDAS), electronic documents understood as “any content stored in electronic form” (art. 3.35) effectively concern recordings made on a blockchain.
Thus, their admissibility and their possible legal effect cannot be called into question (art. 46 eIDAS). ). A recording on a blockchain may therefore be invoked in support of a claim, at least when proof by any means is admitted. To prove it, the recording must relate to an intelligible document and not to a sequence of numbers (source code, etc.). Indeed, a writing within the meaning of the Civil Code is defined as “a series of letters, characters, numbers or any other signs or symbols with an intelligible meaning, whatever their medium” (art. 1365 c. civ .). It is also necessary that the link between the imprint and the act or the electronic copy is ensured (art. 26 eIDAS).
What is the Blockchain in the Digital Authentication of Works
Digital Authentication of Works is the process of using blockchain technology to verify the authenticity of digital files. This may be used to protect intellectual property, ensure data integrity, or prevent fraud. By creating a permanent, tamper-proof record of each file’s origins, blockchain can provide irrefutable proof of authenticity. This makes it an essential tool for businesses and individuals who need to protect their digital assets.
The blockchain can be used in different ways for the digital authentication of works. The most common method is to timestamp each file using a hash function. This creates a unique fingerprint that cannot be changed without changing the original file. Hash functions are also used to create cryptographic signatures, which can be used to verify that the file has not been tampered with.
For Eric Esnault: Blockchain can make the market safer
One of the biggest challenges in the art market for works where the artist is no longer living is verifying its authenticity and provenance. In a 2014 report, the Institute of Fine Arts Experts (FAEI) in Geneva said more than 50% of the artworks it reviewed were either faked or not attributed to the correct artist. Blockchain could change that. As a public, decentralized list of records linked and secured using cryptography, the main feature of blockchain is its fragmented nature.
Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, no centralized version of the information exists for a hacker to access or corrupt. Thus, blockchain is currently considered the safest way to transfer digital data. When it comes to selling artwork, two things are important, “Is the artwork real and do I have the authority to sell it to you?” Blockchain’s ability to track and verify authenticity through timestamps on transactions and cryptographic signatures can solve this problem.
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Eric Esnault: Art and Digital Authentication of Works with Blockchain
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