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Experts say: Russia needs to create the National Digital Cultural Heritage Register

Participants of the All-Russian Scientific and Practical Conference on Digitalization of Culture suggested developing an intersectoral digital cultural platform with a unified policy powered by blockchain technology. Experts believe that one should have unlimited access to digital collections of cultural and scientific works and the types of storage and information transfer should be improved. Apart from this, we need solutions to to provide feedback to theatre-goers, visitors to museums and libraries.

Digitalization helps to store and make accessible the heritage of any cultural institution (theatre, museum, school, or library) for every user regardless of their location. Today, we witness the digitization of book artifacts and the historical heritage of the Russian theatres. The pandemic gave an impetus to the further development of virtual museum collections, online streaming performances and concerts as well as distance learning. Conference speakers said that these partially enforced measures have already become an integral part of the new cultural and information environment.

Kirill Rybak, Ph.D. in cultural studies said: “Blockchain technology enables you to solve the main problem: to collect the most comprehensive information on artworks, expert opinions, arrange the data on the provenance of a historical object, protect against counterfeiting, and get over trust issues toward one another.”

The expert continued: “A distributed ledger does not allow you to falsify or modify information about the objects in the ledger. There is an idea to create a LedgerDocs related to expert evaluation, transfer of rights to artworks. Blockchain-powered technology uses the chains of digital data associated with sequential encryption. Artificial intelligence, trained on the structured data can analyze graphic images and texts in order to establish and confirm the authorship.”

The Executive Director of the IPChain Association, Grigory Turintsev said that the National Digital Cultural Heritage Register for Assets and Rights will be able to solve a number of tasks related to monetization and development of the industry: “Sectoral registers of the Ministry of Culture, the Committee for Architecture and Urban Planning of Moscow, theatres have been scattered. They do not have a single information source. Modern creators do not have a single information source to find out who owns the copyright on artwork and what is the filing fee for copyrighting the artwork in question.”

“How to create a new artwork based on the copyrighted intellectual property asset if we don’t know anything about the author’s successors or rights holders? From our perspective, a single entry point for the authors could be a cross-industry ledger of intellectual property assets and cultural heritage. It is advisable to create it using the tools of the IPChain Association — the association of rights holders, professionals of the intellectual property market.

Any user of the IPChain ledger can formulate their own standards to define assets, add information, and allow services being based on our infrastructure to monetize their copyrights. This is a convenient and modern way to claim the world about someone’s authorship, leave the contact information for further collaboration as well as information about potential application and cost of your intellectual property.”

Experts also noted that the need for a single ledger occurs precisely due to digitalization which not only gave an impetus to piracy but changed the structure and the use of content. Grigory Turintsev stressed that modern technologies enable us to work with a huge number of intellectual property assets while remaining within a legal framework.

“For example, the IPChain ledger uses blockchain-powered technology which makes it impossible to falsify or substitute data in the system. We and the members of the non-profit development consortium Linux Foundation use the Hyperledger technology allowing any rights holder to connect and define which information they want to share with other members. Private blockchain solutions enable us to build up flexible access which makes it possible to create a nationwide cultural information and communication infrastructure.”

The co-founder of the international payment service Joys Digital, General Director of Digital Payments LLC, member of the working group “Financial Services” of the BRICS Business Council Andrei Mikhailishin said that there are a few prejudices and myths in respect to blockchain-powered solutions. When we say “blockchain,” we immediately think of cryptocurrencies. At present, this is already a relic of the past: similarly, in the early 2000s, we witnessed the boom of dotcoms —  projects related to the Internet. The vast majority of them did not survive the crisis, yet the internet technologies developed. The situation with blockchain technology is similar.

“In 2016-2018 there were many  ICO (Initial Coin Offering) projects powered by blockchain technology, but this initial stage is almost over. In 2018 the FBI released a report on a 95% decline in the use of blockchain-powered technologies by fraudsters. There are impressive and big projects in the market. There are real people who have ideas and budgets ready to solve different types of problems behind those projects.”

At the conference it was also decided to suggest the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation set out a working group to create a concept of information space in the field of culture in the Russian Federation and ask them to consider launching the strategy of the public policy in the field of digitalization of culture. In 2021, it is planned to organize a Russian conference focusing on protection of digital heritage.

The conference “Digitalization of culture and culture of digitalization: modern problems of information technologies” was held in Moscow on October 8, 2020. The conference was organized by the D.S. Likhachev Russian Research Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Russian Association of Crypto-Economy, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain (RACAIB).