High Fidelity’s Philip Rosedale has published a couple of blog posts regarding High Fidelity’s roadmap for currency and content protection. The posts really need to be read in full to be fully appreciated and they are rather lengthy and technical, but I would certainly urge content creators to read them, there are some very interesting ideas and proposals at play here.
The first post, Roadmap: Currency and Content Protection, outlines plans for a new currency, HFC :
We are getting ready to deploy blockchain software to create a new currency for virtual worlds, called HFC. This currency will be a public blockchain with a consensus group made up of multiple parties, and ultimately independent of High Fidelity’s control.
That line about being independent of High Fidelity’s control is important for a few reasons, the glaring one being what would happen if High Fidelity went away, which is answered in the post :
Q: Will my money and digital assets survive if High Fidelity goes away?
A: Yes. Because the HFC blockchain is a public ledger, anyone can (and many will) make a backup of the data. If High Fidelity were to disappear, someone else will startup a new blockchain from that backup and provide the same service of accepting new blocks to write to the ledger. Also, both High Fidelity and the blockchain software we are using are open source.
There’s a lot more in the post, it covers security, privacy, wallets and stable exchange rates. The last point is relevant because it explains why High Fidelity want to create their own currency rather than using existing options. This is definitely worth reading.
The first post also covers content protection, the second post, Roadmap: Protecting Intellectual Property in Virtual Worlds goes into a lot more detail about protecting intellectual property.
Blockchains are also part of the proposals regarding intellectual property and this involves use of High Fidelity’s registration system to help protect your property :
Once something is accepted for registration, we will write information to the HFC blockchain (a permanent public ledger that everyone can read) proving that the item is officially registered and is the property of the initial creator. As the creator, you will hold a private key that allows you to prove at anytime that you are the creator of the original asset that was registered, and also allows you to make official copies of your asset for others.
On top of this, a proof of purchase can be issued to people who buy an item and this will also be added to the system :
When someone buys your sunglasses from you, you create a digital certificate (basically a proof-of-purchase) that officially states that they now own a pair of your sunglasses. Minimally, this certificate points back to the original registered asset, is signed by you as the creator, and is also stored in the public blockchain with a key that can be used by the new owner to prove that they own it (or to re-sell it to someone else). So there are now two ‘official’ documents in the blockchain — the registration of the original design for the asset, and the certificate proving that a copy of it is owner by the buyer.
So how does this help content protection? The blog post explains the concepts a bit further :
Because there is an unique entry in the blockchain for each copy of the sunglasses that have been purchased from you, and because this entry is signed with a private key, we can protect against duplicate copies in one of two different ways: First, if the owner is present, anyone can challenge the owner to ‘prove’ that they own the object by asking them to sign a message with the sunglasses’ private key. This process can be automated in the inspection step described above. So basically when you inspect something like the glasses someone is wearing, they can securely say to you “my owner is standing right here”.
The second method is based on the concept of an item with the same purchase certificate being in different locations, or even different servers :
In this case, what we do is require that the owner update the blockchain with the latest location for the asset. So if something is going to be left sitting around somewhere, you have to write it’s current location to the blockchain. Since anyone can look up that latest entry, it can only have one ‘official’ location. Servers can automatically delete assets with certificates that have the wrong location — so if you leave a copy of something somewhere and logout and then place it somewhere else, it will automatically be deleted from the old location. And if you, as a visitor, inspect something and find the location doesn’t match what is written in the blockchain, you’ll know it’s not the official copy.
I’m pretty sure that there’s plenty of discussion to be had about the ideas and proposals on this roadmap but it looks like High Fidelity are heading in an interesting direction when it comes to currency and content protection.