What is a digital passport for an artwork? Why is it necessary when making an online purchase and sale transaction? How to prepare and register it in the blockchain ecosystem? Sharing an information about the mix of traditional and cutting edge technologies I recommend to use.

Where and how art passports were kept

A passport is a fundamental document confirming the authenticity of a work of art. On its basis, you can establish the origin and legality of ownership. Usually, a passport for a work of art was made in two copies, one of which was handed over to the copyright holder, and the second was kept in the International Depository of Artistic Works.

The structure, activity, list of services provided when transferring to this register was established by a separate provision. An identification designation (sign, seal, laser hologram) was installed on the work of art, on which the passport number and the date of registration in the International Register of Artistic Works were mandatory.

At the request of the copyright holder, in case of loss or damage to the original passport, a duplicate was issued, but only if there was a work of art on which the identification designation was preserved. At the same time, a corresponding entry was made in the register about the issuance of a duplicate passport.

When transferring copyright to works of art to another copyright holder, the passport is transferred to him as a fundamental document confirming the authenticity, authorship and legal legality of the transfer of copyright on these works of art. The owner or rightholder can receive a new passport, which will indicate the registered volume of copyright transferred to them and the assigned ownership right.

Authorship is an integral part of a work of art and cannot be changed, sold, transferred to another person. In the event of revision of a work of art by another artist, co-authorship may be issued only with the consent of the primary author.

The passport is issued for a work of art created by the artist personally and signed by him. The artist is personally liable under the law in case of deception, forgery, forgery, when applying his signature to a work of art, of which he is not the author.

As new technologies developed in the arts, paper versions of documents began to be replaced by digital counterparts. A new term has appeared: “digital passport”. Digital passports come a part of blockchain ecosystems for the art market.

At the same time, the usual methods of verifying the origin and legality of ownership of works of art have remained unchanged. The main task of technology companies working in the field of art was the modernization of the outdated infrastructure of depositories, the introduction of electronic document management systems in the infrastructure of art institutions with the awareness and understanding of the accumulated experience of working with archival materials.

What information is indicated in the passport of a work of art

The artwork passport must contain a color image of the artwork giving a spatial representation of the artwork, and a color image of the author’s signature on this artwork.

Information that must be included in the passport of a work of art:

1. The title of the artwork.

2. Surname, name of the author of the artwork.

3. The pseudonym of the author of the work of art (in the absence of a pseudonym, the corresponding entry “no pseudonym” is entered).

4. Start date and end date of work on the artwork.

5. Dimensions of the artwork.

6. The material from which the work of art is created, or the basis on which the work of art is written.

7. The presence or absence of paint, varnish or other coating applied to the work of art (if possible, their composition, type, manufacturer).

8. Artistic technique for creating a work of art.

9. In the case of duplication of a work of art, the passport indicates a specific number of copies made.

10. In the case of duplication of a work of art, the passport indicates the master or organization that performed this production operation at the request of the artist.

11. In the case of a limited number of copies of a work of art, the serial number of the work of art is indicated in the passport.

Additionally, the passport of a work of art indicates:

1. Specific copyright and other rights reserved for the artists (author);

2. The owner who owns the artwork itself.

3. Copyright holders who are permanently or temporarily transferred certain rights to this work of art.

In the case of a limited number of copies of a work of art, a passport of the work of art may be issued for the matrix, the master model, with which the production work of art was made. The passport of a work of art additionally takes into account:

1. This matrix, the master model, has been destroyed or saved.

2. The master or organization that made this matrix, master model.

3. Date of creation and destruction of the matrix, master model.

4. The material from which the matrix is made, the master model.

5. Technique for making a matrix, master model.

The passport of a work of art contains the series and number, the date of entry into the Register of Artistic Works and the date of entry into the Depository of Artistic Works, the number of depository storage.

The series of the passport of a work of art encodes the main distinguishing features of the work.

Working with big data

On ArtCollecting.Info it is possible to upload copies of passports of works of art: we have a list of registers that we entrust. This list includes those registries that contain data on more than a million works of art and are constantly growing. I analyze big data practices when deciding to integrate our e-commerce platform with registries. These integrations are complex and time consuming.

To understand the essence of the work, let’s understand the terminology. What is Big Data? In 2001, Gatner proposed the following definition (it is still in use): Big data is a variety of data that comes in at an ever-increasing speed and whose volume is constantly growing. Thus, three main features of big data stand out — diversity, high speed of receipt, and large volume. In simple terms, the size of these datasets is so large that traditional processing programs cannot handle them. But big data can be used to solve business problems that previously seemed too complex.

As new digital ledgers enter the markets, big data has two additional characteristics: value and reliability. These are the characteristics that I pay attention to when choosing service providers. Depositories that have a well-developed methodology for entering into the register of intellectual property objects often seem more reliable than startups that are chasing the number of adopters, ignoring the verification of data entered by possible copyright holders and ignoring the KYC procedure.

Big data has inherent value. However, for them to be useful, this value must be revealed. Equally important is how reliable the data is — can you trust it? In the field of art, works sometimes undergo peer review before being added to the registers.

Big data has become a form of capital today. Yes, such capital is possessed by depositories that have collected and processed passports of works of art for decades. The value of their offerings depends to a large extent on the quality of the data that they constantly analyze to improve efficiency and develop new digital products.

Extracting value from big data is not just about analyzing it. It’s about a complex research process with the participation of professionals who will ask the right questions, identify patterns, make informed proposals.

What about e-commerce?

As the market for e-commerce services grows, we see an increase in data problems: there is too much information to quickly organize it on one platform. We turn to depositories in order to link the data going there with the data that our vendors will upload. Having a passport for a work of art that is being put up for sale will become one of the main criteria for curatorial selection. API integrations with depositories that authenticate artwork and issue digital passports will help increase user confidence. However, this trust must be backed up by the expert judgment required to verify the work of art. It is important for me that the depository checks the original work of art before issuing a digital passport. The case when the new digital world cannot exist without traditional methods of working with intellectual property.

Marina N.