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AP Inks Deal With Blockchain Media Startup Civil

The Associated Press (AP) is partnering with blockchain journalism startup Civil to license articles for, Digiday reported Tuesday.

Civil Media Company is planning to license the AP’s content to its various newsrooms as one aspect of the deal, according to the report. Another aspect will see AP and Civil collaborating to track Civil newsrooms’ original content and enable more effective licensing for the blockchain startup.

Civil founder and CEO Matthew Iles told Digiday that the partnership was aimed at ensuring content creators receive credit – both in name and compensation – for the works they produce. At present, media companies estimate that anywhere between 50 and 70 percent of content is republished without either attribution or compensation, he said.

AP senior vice president of strategy and enterprise development agreed, saying “right now, we send something out on the internet, and we can’t really track it in all the ways it’s consumed.”

He added:

“When you’re licensing content to a legacy media company, you can pretty well track it. But on the internet, it’s never been easy. When we do contracts with people, we establish their rights to use it, and they’re generally followed. But when it’s published, it’s freely available for people to scrape and cut and paste. It used to be, we just worried about people using it for free.”

He added that news articles may now even be used to spread misinformation or fake news on occasion.

“This presents an opportunity to have a real track record of who’s allowed to publish content and how it’s being used,” he said.

An AP spokesperson confirmed the partnership, telling CoinDesk that the wire service “is happy to be collaborating with Civil to make AP content available to the newsrooms publishing on the platform and to learn more about how blockchain technology can be used to protect content and support good journalism.”

AP image via chrisdorney / Shutterstock

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The Kodak KashMiner's Flashy Debut Ends In Failure

The much-publicized partnership that would have resulted in digital media brand Kodak’s name appearing on a series of bitcoin miners is no more.

Revealed in January at the CES tech show in Las Vegas, the Kodak KashMiner boasted a two-year income projection of $9,000 and required an up-front payment of roughly one-third of that amount. The product debuted around the same time that Kodak inked a still-in-progress partnership that will see its name attached to a cryptocurrency.

Critics accused Kodak of using the KashMiner as a short-term stock boost, with some even calling the product a “Kodak-branded cryptocurrency folly” for its unrealistic claims. According to the BBC, the brand licensee for Kodak LED lighting products known as Spotlite USA had originally intended to label and rent out the KashMiner for consumers but ultimately “the venture was never officially licensed and no devices had ever been installed.”

The news comes as somewhat of a shock given that a representative for Spotlite told the BBC at the time of unveiling that hundreds KashMiners were to “arrive shortly” and add to the 80 already in possession – all in order to meet demand coming from interested miners.

Now, Spotlite’s CEO, Halston Mikail, tells that BBC that the project never got off the ground in the first place.

Mikail told the news service:

“While you saw units at CES from our licensee Spotlite, the KashMiner is not a Kodak brand licensed product. Units were not installed at our headquarters.”

He also reportedly added the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission put to halt the plan and effectively prevented the Kodak KashMiners from being rented out as originally intended.

Instead, Mikail told the BBC the company would focus on growing its own private mining operations in-house.

Flash photography image via Shutterstock 

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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US Currency Boss Opens Door to Licensed Bitcoin Banks

The acting comptroller of the currency for the U.S. Treasury Department has said he is open to the idea that banks might one day conduct business in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Speaking at an event hosted by the U.S. Federal Reserve yesterday, Keith Noreika, the newly named director of the agency tasked with supervising all national banks, went so far as to state publicly that he foresees a future in which such companies might be granted “fintech charters” – proposed licenses designed to simplify the way banks do businesses across state borders.

Currently, both bitcoin companies and more traditional money transmitters need to comply with a complicated network of regulatory regimes in all 50 U.S. states, a pain point that industry advocates have argued severely limits startup growth by increasing the cost of market entrance.

But despite being open to the new licensing system, Noreika went on to strike a cautious note on the concept.

He told attendees:

“I wouldn’t be adverse to those people coming in and talking to the [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] about how a charter could make sense for them. But that is a long process they’d have to go through, and just because you get in the door doesn’t mean you’re going to get out the door on the other side.”

A long-time lawyer with a history of working within banking, Noreika was appointed acting comptroller by President Donald Trump in May of this year. In the transition, he inherited the fintech charter from his predecessor, Thomas J. Curry, who last year revealed plans to create a single federal option to act as a kind of substitute for state-by-state money transmitter licenses.

Perhaps appropriately, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was created in 1863 to help subjugate the state currencies that were then taking root, and to create a national currency in their place.

Mindful of the Federal Reserve’s present duties to oversee U.S. currency, Noreika spoke passionately about his willingness to hear innovative ideas, and help create an environment in which they can flourish.

He said:

“I don’t think it’s my position as a government official to ever say ‘no’ to anything, or any idea, of any American who wants to come in and petition the government for a benefit from the government.”

Cautious optimism

Overall, Noreika’s comments came after hours of discussion in which panels were devoid of any mention of cryptocurrency or blockchain technology. But that would all change immediately after his talk, when the results of three research papers on the subject were presented.

Sharing Noreika’s cautious optimism was Evangelos Benos, a senior economist at the Bank of England, the U.K.’s central bank, who discussed his paper published last month entitled, “The economics of distributed ledger technology for securities settlement.”

During his address, Benos recounted what he argued are the benefits of how securities settlement platforms could utilize distributed ledgers. In summary, he stated that. while the initial costs to bring the concept to life might be high, the potential scale of the platforms created could be massive.

“Their cost-functions are likely very small, or potentially zero,” he said, adding:

“Which means that their average costs are going to be declining. Which I think is an important point, because it suggests that potentially, there’s no economic limits to the size of this security settlement network.”

‘Hot potato’

But not everyone was so optimistic. One particularly bearish analysis of bitcoin came from a representative of the Federal Reserve itself.

The author of “The Law of One Bitcoin Price,” published earlier this year, assistant vice president of research and statistics, Asani Sarkar, recounted data that he said successfully shows the limitations of cryptocurrency.

Specifically, he argued that, while exchanging one cryptocurrency for another is simple and quick, moving these assets to fiat and back creates drag and risk in the economy. As a result, Sarkar said that some banks that formerly banked cryptocurrency companies have stopped doing so.

He concluded that in order to stay connected to the traditional economy, cryptocurrency companies have to accept the need to move from bank to bank:

“What bitcoin exchanges have started doing is playing this game of hot potato.”

In this way, Sarkar argued that there might be practical, operational limitations that could make it unlikely that today’s banks, as well as future, chartered banks, would embrace the concept.

Keith Noreika image via the OCC

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