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Totem: Baidu Launches Blockchain-based Photo Sharing Website As Part of Xuper-Chain

Baidu, the dominant Chinese search company, has started a blockchain-based photo platform. If a photographer provides pictures, she/he will get tokens based on the number of pictures and their quality. The goal is to provide a motivation to provide pictures to the platform and make copyright claims easier.

The Baidu photo sharing platform is named “Totem”. The tokens are called “Totem Point”, according to a report from Coindesk.com. The website is available only in Chinese language.

Four billion tokens

The platform was announced in April 2018, at the time without the promise of a token system. The launch itself is part of a larger push for blockchain-based services, called the XuperChain or X-Chain. The goal of the latter is to provide a combined chain, which would be compatible for both BitCoin and Ethereum. Users who got tokens will be able to use the tokens in that platform, though at this time it is not clear whether it will be possible to exchange the tokens into traditional or crypto-currency money.

Baidu says it will generate 4 billion Totem tokens. According to a White Paper (in Chinese)  the amount of tokens a creator gets, will be based on the number of photos and the quality. Quantity and quality are two aspects of any such platform but while quantity is easy to measure, quality is not. It would be relevant to learn whether the decision about the quality of a photo is based on quantity (how often the photo is used or commented upon) or other measures. We took the time to translate the White Paper with Google Translate here

Quote from Baidu White Paper (machine translated, slightly edited)

“Totem Points are points that the Totem Platform has to offer to convert users’ original content uploads and information uploads with certain resources and benefits that can be exchanged for Baidu’s internal value. The initial generation of the points is 4 billion. According to certain rules, the totem blockchain system is issued fairly and freely. The object of distribution is all totem individuals or institutional users, and 4.5% of the totem points are newly issued each year as the copyright chain node.” Source: Baidu White Paper

The White paper then goes further into the motivation to create the systemm (emphasis added by us):

“High cost of determination: Content copyright producers need to spend a lot of time and money to create content works. However, when excellent content works are placed on the Internet platform, it is not easy to determine the copyright ownership. The network platform is different from the traditional platform. Publishing or publishing content works is fast and convenient, but it cannot obtain effective and reliable endorsement support. Content publishers need to contact the copyright agency to apply for copyright attribution. The cost of this process is high. There are differences between the various endorsement agencies. The daily Internet platform will create millions of original works, and it is even more difficult for each piece to be confirmed.”

Piracy: The phenomenon of theft of content works on the current network is not uncommon. The main reason is that it is difficult to find infringement and difficult to defend rights.

Infringement discovery is difficult: The content works on the Internet are easily reprocessed and re-transmitted because of their easy-to-modify and easy-to-circulate characteristics. When there is a lack of open and sound infringement detection mechanism, infringement is difficult to find.

Hard to defend: After discovering the infringement, whether the pirated clues can protect the rights, how to find the rights defenders, and how to defend the rights all require the content creators to spend a lot of energy to study, which can be described as difficult.”

Baidu Totem/Pic-Chain – every photo uploaded has certain meta data.
(Source: Screenshot from website)

The platform is now live at https://image.baidu.com.

(Note that on the site, the word “Pic-Chain” is used, not Totem, different to multiple press reports after a conference in mid-July 2018 where Baidu announced the new offering.)

How is Baidu Totem related to Bloomen Photo?

The Bloomen take: The arguments used by Baidu are  close to what drives our work in the Bloomen research project. The idea to help photographers assign copyright and then to have a way to track usage  is key for the Bloomen Photo use case. Our project though is  currently (July 2018) only at a stage of early demonstrators. As a result we will aim to keep watching developments of other photo platforms which are based on blockchain technologies, such as Baidu Totem or Kodak One. 

More links:
Coindesk: Search Giant Baidu unveils Blockchain stock photo platform
Cryptonomist: Baidu announced Totem blockchain for copyright protection

Image credit: Screenshot from Baidu Totem Homepage