A Journey Through the ZDS

Follow Alice on her quest to become a digital artist

We follow a user, Alice, on her journey through the ZDS as she takes true ownership of her digital content and participates in the new data economy.

Step 1: Register

Alice wants to sell a piece of digital art that she has created. She registers with the Zenotta platform and establishes a Zenotta Identity by creating a Zenotta Identifier (a ZIDI). The identifier remains fully under her control and is anonymous with respect to third parties. She downloads a Zenotta wallet, which generates an asymmetric public/private key pair and a symmetric key.

Step 2: Convert your data

Alice pushes her digital art file through the Zenotta Data Protocol (ZDP), which converts it into a decentralized Zenotta Smart Data (ZSD) file consisting of:

(i) a Data Rights Signature (DRS) which is held on the Zenotta blockchain and is encrypted with Alice’s private key

(ii) a Cold-Stored File (CSF) which is encoded with the DRS and encrypted with Alice’s symmetric key

(iii) the aforementioned symmetric and asymmetric keys

Alice keeps the CSF on her computer, and the keys in her Zenotta wallet (the wallet can be anywhere accessible by Alice; on her computer, in the cloud, on a hardware device)

Step 3: Protect your data

Alice wants to update the metadata that is an embedded part of the CSF to only allow her art to be sold in countries that comply with certain laws. She does this on the Zenotta platform, or via the Zenotta app. Her inputs are fully standardized, but she has complete freedom as to what she specifies. However, the ownership information is part of the encoding of the file via the DRS, which Alice cannot alter herself.

Step 4: Advertise your content

Alice advertises her artwork and the fact that it is for sale. She can do this on any platform, but a buyer must purchase the artwork through the Zenotta Data Market (ZDM) in order to take true ownership of it – in other words, in order for the new owner’s signature to be added to the DRS. She therefore registers that her artwork is for sale with the ZDM and sets a price.

Step 5: Sell your data

Bob is an art collector and thinks that Alice has great potential as a digital artist. He decides to buy the art and become the new owner, meaning that he will own the sole rights to the artwork and be able to (for example) display it in a gallery or sell it on later. He registers with the Zenotta platform and establishes a ZIDI. He downloads a Zenotta wallet, which generates a public/private key pair. As a result of the sale, Bob sends Alice his public (encrypt) key for her to sign the DRS with. This is akin to asking Alice to put the DRS in a new “lockbox” that only Bob’s private (decrypt) key can unlock (Alice can lock the box, but not unlock it). In this way, Alice and Bob together create a signature chain on top of the original DRS.

Step 6: Transfer ownership

Since the original DRS remains unchanged, Alice retains her authorship of the artwork. However, the ownership rights have been passed to Bob. Bob also receives from Alice the CSF (and the symmetric key that decrypts it) along with the asymmetric public key that allows him to decode the decrypted CSF.

Step 7: Get paid

Alice has successfully sold her digital artwork, but of course, she needs to be paid. The other half of the transaction proceeds as a standard crypto token transfer, using the Zenotta blockchain, but is combined with the data transfer in a dual entry format on the ledger by the responsible Compute Node. Bob therefore receives the artwork at the same time as Alice receives the payment, and it is not possible for either party to withhold their side of the transaction without the sale being cancelled.

Step 8: Achieve your dreams

A year has passed and Alice is a famous artist. The artwork that Bob purchased from her is worth 10 times what he originally paid for it, and so he decides to sell it on to another art collector who will display it in a new, digital art wing of the Louvre. Charlie (the art collector) and Bob repeat Step 5, except this time, it is Bob that must lock a new box “containing” the old one (which, as we recall, contained the original DRS) using Charlie’s public (encrypt) key. The signature chain therefore grows with each new owner, but retains a memory of all previous owners.

The Role of the Blockchain

Facilitating each of these steps is the Zenotta blockchain network, which acts as the notary that verifies and marks the transfer of the asset to the new owner as official. This is akin to the standard function of a notary but using a blockchain network. The Zenotta blockchain network is designed to retain the decentralized and trustless verification of the ledger that is a standard feature of blockchains while ensuring that it is ethical, governable, and compliant when handling data.

This is achieved through:

(i) miners performing their important verification role within a balancing protocol that prevents the usual trend toward mining centralization and keeps the energy usage of the network within environmentally-acceptable limits

(ii) an aggregate measure of confidence in the verification that translates to an oraclizable measure of confidence in the state and the history of the assets under management

(iii) dedicated data handler nodes within the network that are decentralized but accountable.