Startbahn Releases a White Paper for Art Blockchain Network, a New Infrastructure for the Entire Art Ecosystem
Startbahn, Inc. (hereinafter Startbahn) is thrilled to announce the release of the White Paper for Art Blockchain Network (hereinafter ABN), a sustainable and indispensable infrastructure supporting the development of the fine arts ecosystem by furthering its trust and credibility.
This paper aims to promote a deeper understanding of ABN to potential users by disclosing the details of its design and governance structure that pursue social implementation and serving the public good. It is our aspiration to provide an open infrastructure for distribution and evaluation of artworks to more users without undermining the credibility and value creating processes that the art industry has built up over the course of history.
Download the full white paper here.
Finally Released After More than a Year of Demonstration Period
More than a year has passed since the announcement of the ABN project in July of 2018. Since then, ABN has improved significantly and refined to detail; it is already the testnet Ver. 5 at the time of this release. In the meantime, we have been in discussions with domestic companies such as Tanseisha, Bijutsu Techo, Tagboat, Amatorium, SBI Art Auction, and SMADONA. Overseas companies such as Singapore-based Maecenas are also in this list, as well as many other organizations that are considering partnering with us.
We took constructive and valuable feedbacks about technical and governance aspects of ABN from museums, gallery professionals, archivists, auction houses, and other advisors with an expert knowledge on the the art industry and its business customs. After many demonstrations and improvement of ABN, we now proudly release its White Paper today, and aim for the mainnet usage in early 2020.
Design and Governance Focused on Social Implementation and Public Trust
In addition to the technical content, this white paper highlights the governance and system upgradability* to ensure that ABN is a sustainable and essential infrastructure for the arts industry.
ABN will be operated by the soon-to-be-formed “ABN Consortium” to further ensure its public nature. We have already held three pre-foundation meetings to solicit input from the 25 organizations that participated, and ABN plans to continue to operate in a "decentralized" manner by the Consortium.
*Upgradability: A countermeasure against the difficulty of updating information on blockchain; information on blockchain is extremely difficult to counterfeit, but there rises the problem of making it difficult to update the content once it is on blockchain.
This project began in 2006 when we first announced our central concept: to create a standard and universal infrastructure for art using technology.
We initiated our idea to create a platform where exposure and chances are readily available to fresh artists, and to have their contributions to the community continually reward them over the years. We envisioned a system where content creators and owners received royalty-type revenues when their work is distributed or re-distributed, creating a mechanism that helps to control the sale and resale prices that benefits all parties.
Currently, there are many trading channels available when distributing artwork, ranging from small individual sales to large entities making multiple simultaneous transactions. There are also many processes by other parties involved in the ecosystem, such as exhibition curators, critics and appraisers, all of whom come with their own set of professional skills and services.
As the art business is global, the amount of exposure and circulation a piece of artwork experiences ranges anywhere from being seen by a small community, to being known universally and cherished throughout the ages. In order to trace transactional chronologies for these artworks, secure their values on the market, and allow for their owners to be able to retroactively collect revenues generated through royalties or usage (or remove common hurdles such as those mentioned), a system that connects all the stakeholders involved must be put in place. Yet, there are as many needs as there are roles and stakeholders within the art ecosystem, and addressing them all presents itself as one of the biggest challenges.
Ten years have passed since these challenges were first identified. Since then, blockchain technology has emerged, opening up possibilities for the future of this project. If blockchain is used, every stakeholder could share information within the industry, while maintaining privacy for customers and individual organizations.
This platform built on blockchain can be designed to find the optimal distribution solution for each user while responding to the changing environment in real time, and involves all stakeholders involved in the art market, such as curators and appraisers as well.
ABN was designed to maximize the possibilities of using blockchain networks and initially began as a system to distribute revenue to artists on the network. As a result of expanding this system to serve more roles, ABN became a sophisticated platform that linked related stakeholders throughout the transaction cycle of each piece of artwork, all the way to managing copyright and distribution.
We pledge to do our very best to get the most potential out of blockchain technology and to better manage a decentralized infrastructure aimed at further developing all sectors of the art market.
Contents of the Art Blockchain Network White Paper
1. Art Blockchain Network’s Vision
This chapter touches on the issues that the art market faces and what can be achieved with ABN, as well as the overview of each chapter.
3. Problem Statements
This chapter explains the current art market, its problems and their causes, and the future technological innovation and the existing art x blockchain systematic problems. Given that, the three main points are elaborated on: "Proof of Authenticity and Provenance," "Compatibility with New Distribution Management System," and "System Upgradability and Interoperability.”
4. About the Art Blockchain Network
This chapter examines how ABN solves each issue mentioned in Chapter 3, and describes the basic structure, functions, and definitions of terms in ABN, with diagrams and illustrations.
5. Technical Overview
This chapter is on the technical aspects of ABN, including the background of choosing Ethereum, explanation on smart contracts, privacy measures, and security specifications.
6. Interoperability with Other Blockchain Projects
This chapter illustrates ABN’s interoperability with many other blockchain projects; why it is necessary, and how to realize it technically by demonstrating some case studies.
This chapter builds on the network ABN aims to create, and describes a detailed plan for the ABN Consortium that can involve many stakeholders of the art world, including the role of the governance token to deal with some governance risks.
8. Organizing Legal Relationships
This chapter describes the legal relationships regarding ABN: the relationship between individuals and corporations participating in ABN, the relationship between the artist and the owner of the artwork, and the relationship between the artist and the company or the organization that handles the artwork.
10. Our Team and Advisors
After this release, we plan to (1) release the APIs for test use by partner companies, (2) start recruiting preparation members for the Consortium, and (3) release ABN on the mainnet in early 2020. We are also preparing to start operating governance tokens in the first half of 2020. Moreover, we will improve the user experience with ABN, by creating NFC cards and wallet applications, to make the infrastructure more widely accessible.
Members of the Consortium Wanted
If you would like to join the ABN Consortium or to use the ABN API, please register your email address on the website or contact us at the address below. We are also updating our progress on the ABN website.
Download the full White Paper here.
Overview of Startbahn
Startbahn is a company that aims to realize a richer society by providing the technology needed by artists and people involved in art all over the world. We are promoting the development of “Art Blockchain Network,” a blockchain infrastructure for art distribution and evaluation. After its testnet release in October 2018, the ABN white paper was released in October 2019, based on extensive feedbacks from a number of partners of arts-related businesses. We are planning to release ABN on the mainnet later on.
For Inquiries About This Release
PR Officer: Risa Mizuno
Email address: [email protected]