Afraid Someone Will Steal Your Creative Work? This Vietnam Based Start-up Can Help
Copyrobo aids the prevention of copyright infringement in 60 seconds or less
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
You’re taking a shower and an idea hits you, and not just any idea, it’s THE idea. It’s going to take the world by storm, no question. After finishing a prototype, you’re just about to share it with the world when fear gives you pause. What if someone steals this? There’d be the hassle of the long legal slog and emotional fatigue. Deciding to shelve the prototype, you forget about it. It wasn’t that great of an idea anyway.
For Hasan Kurtulus, founder and CEO of Copyrobo, this scenario is a tragedy. His drive to create the Vietnam-based start-up is to help creators put more of their work out into the world. “Sharing more projects is good for the world and good for the creator,” says Kurtulus, explaining that if an idea isn’t shared, creators won’t know how to modify and improve it.
More shared projects, he says, “means more business, more employment, better technology for health, for everything, because more projects means more useful things for the world.” In Southeast Asia, with the flow of goods and services in the ASEAN Economic Community, protecting Intellectual Property (IP) Rights is indeed a concern.
Why are creators scared to share? Well, blame the Internet and its world-wide-reach. According to Google’s transparency report, 921 million URLs were removed due to copyright infringement reports from the period of May 4, 2016 to May 4, 2017 alone. As Kurtulus emphasizes, what’s to stop someone from another country from stealing your work—a copyright symbol? It’s not a good deterrent, especially when enforcement of IP rights varies per country. As the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore points out, the symbol “does not give the copyright owner any substantive right and is therefore not crucial for copyright protection.
There is patent registration, but it takes time and money, plus not every invention is patentable. What creators need is to be able to prove their authorship should conflict arise, in a timely and cost-effective manner, and present their evidence in court.
While Copyrobo can’t give certificates of ownership, as Kurtulus says no company can, it creates evidence for its users with the “highest possible legal acceptance.” Evidence such as Blockchain timestamps and other qualified timestamps including a EU qualified timestamp, recognized across the union. Timestamps are similar to a notary stamp, asserting that the work was created at a certain time.
Available on both mobile and web, Copyrobo claims this evidence can be created in less than 60 seconds and costs $1. With the ability to get evidence quickly and feel protected, Kurtulus says this helps build trust faster. In a way, it’s a trust hack, especially for cross-border collaborative situations.
Copyrobo’s service comes in two categories: Individual and Business plans. Users that choose the free plan get 2 credits and have access to Blockchain timestamps. For users that want to get EU qualified timestamps, an upgrade is needed.
Combining Law and Tech
Kurtulus lived in London and Cambridge for three years each, where the seeds for Copyrobo began as he was working in his IT company and encountering infringement problems with their customers. He then moved to Istanbul and set up a law firm with his brother, focusing on Intellectual Property and Copyright. One day, one of their customers approached them with concerns that a lot of copyright infringement was coming from Turkey and there were no present solutions to stop infringers.
When the new eIDAS regulation came out in 2014, or the regulation (EU) N°910/2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market, allowing electronic trust services including timestamps to hold the same legal weight across the EU “as traditional paper based processes”, Kurtulus felt he could run with his idea for Copyrobo.
Needing a big team and dreaming of scale, Kurtulus decided to relocate to Vietnam for its cheaper costs and welcoming community. With funding from his family group of companies, Kurtulus started building a team and the engine in 2015. In late 2016, Copyrobo was one of the finalists at the Echelon Vietnam 2016 Top 100 pitching competition. While they didn’t win the top prize, Kurtulus says this was the moment he knew the company could make it as the rest of the start-ups at the competition used Copyrobo to protect their work.
A Safer World for Creators
One of the challenges, Kurtulus shares, is that most people don’t know the law or Blockchain technology, for that matter. In order to get people to trust their service, Copyrobo is currently targeting authorities such as universities and law firms to use the product and give their seal of approval.
While most of Copyrobo’s current users are from Turkey, the UK, and the US, Kurtulus hopes to scale and expand Copyrobo to reach more creators around the world. Kurtulus’ measure of success? It’s not the company’s ability to bring in investors but its impact on students---its ability to give them the courage to share their work and gain more respect. Who knows, Kurtulus says, someone might have the next Facebook, but they may be too scared to share.