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Blockchain: all-change for Intellectual Property

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While it may be best-known in the mainstream for its association with Bitcoin, there is huge potential for blockchain technology to be applied to other areas and industries.

One of the most promising applications is to the protection of intellectual property. There are various solutions available to protect IP from being exploited (learn more here), but blockchain changes the landscape completely.

Most authors of artistic creations and other unique works are protected by local IP laws as well as international agreements on copyright that exist between certain nations. The problem is that, when infringement or outright theft of IP takes place, even if the perpetrators are identified it is down to the owners to provide proof that they are the originator of the work.

This is where blockchain tech can be invaluable. Rather than relying on a centralised database to track IP ownership, it offers a decentralised approach to asserting authorial rights and demonstrating ownership in an entirely unambiguous, incorruptible way.

The blockchain is an interconnected, encrypted ledger, with each entry intrinsically linked to every other one. It is therefore impossible to make changes to entries and there is also no way to erase entries once they have been made.

In an IP context, this means that the moment you create a work it can be registered in the blockchain. Then, if you need to show that it belongs to you, not some other claimant, you can refer to this entry and ensure there is no question of your status as the owner.

Integrating blockchain tech with digital content can solve some of the key complications that come with making works available online. At the moment it is almost impossible for IP owners to see how their work is being distributed, or how it is being used by those that have access to it, which makes infringement and unsanctioned adaptation all too easy.

By making sure that works are registered as part of an IP-focused blockchain solution, it becomes possible to keep tabs on all aspects of how content is distributed and used. This applies not only to artistic works like music and images, but also to patented product designs and anything else that falls into the definition of intellectual property in the digital age.

Unifying contracts and licenses

Another challenge IP owners face emerges when they decide to offer their works to others and receive compensation for their efforts. Every consumer will be (or should be) familiar with the license agreements they commit to when installing software on their devices, but even these digital contracts are fairly inflexible in most cases and do not give IP owners as much control as they would like.

There is generally a need for licensing to be handled by a third party, because of the complexities involved with wrangling agreements of this nature.

Introducing blockchain tech to this process could put more power in the hands of creators while allowing them to make it much easier for end users to license their works legitimately. This might counteract some of the fragmentation which is particularly present in the multimedia entertainment market at the moment. It is claimed to encourage piracy, rather than preventing it.

In short, blockchain is a technology that will change the intellectual property game, mostly for the better.

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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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