Lock in attribution, securely share and trace where your digital work spreads.

Update on ascribe

The starting point for ascribe was in 2013 when we saw an “elephant in the room problem” in the digital art world: collectors did not understand how to value something “ephemeral” like a digital file, and it was hard for artists working with digital tools monetize their work. Then we realized: what if you could own digital art the way you own Bitcoin?

ascribe officially launched in January 2015 and reflected our vision: empower people, make it possible for them to monetize digital property, create a wallet of property and offer this way a bounty of possibilities. That vision has not changed.

On the way, we discovered that there was still a lot of blockchain infrastructure work to do in terms of scaling, user experience, interoperability, and security. Two of these in particular impacted ascribe. IP licensing flexibility (which affected user experience; we solved it via COALA IP protocol); and the larger one, of scale.

For example, one marketplace considering ascribe was processing 100,000 photos a day. That was the same number as the Bitcoin network at the time; and Bitcoin itself was already considered clogged. So while the ascribe concept made sense, the underlying infrastructure needed to be more mature. This is why we initiated BigchainDB in 2015 – a blockchain database that we continuously improved since then (we recently launched BigchainDB 2.0).

The ascribe principles of helping creators and protecting personal data, also led us to start the Ocean Protocol project in 2017. Ocean is a decentralized substrate to democratize AI training data & services, and at the very heart of Ocean is a system to manage IP and provenance. This means it has mechanisms for claiming copyright and subsequent licensing.

ascribe has massively influenced our own subsequent work, and the learnings and protocols (most notably COALA IP) have then benefitted other projects.

After all these years, we continue to see great interest in ascribe from the artist community. To best serve the needs of these artists and institutions, we are fully open sourcing the ascribe codebase to the interested community. Artists and institutions alike will be able to run their own service.

In this context, we will wind down the ascribe.io service in the coming weeks and this is the schedule:

  1. Users can download artworks and their data until September 3 2018;
  2. As of September 3 2018, no uploads or transfers will be made via the website;
  3. The website will be archived and turned into a static web page on September 8 2018;
  4. The parts of the ascribe codebase that are not yet open source will be open sourced with a permissive license. This includes frontend and backend components.

We’d like to thank you for supporting ascribe over the years.

Truly Yours,
ascribe team

Would you like to know more? Here is our blog post on the ascribe updates.