Toronto’s industrial rock band 22HERTZ, created by Ralf Muller, is set to encode a copyright of the band’s new single into the Bitcoin blockchain. The song, mixed by Yoad Nevo, will be hashed and attached into an OP_RETURN function – a standardized feature that allows data to be passed to the Bitcoin blockchain.

Following the trace of Muller’s former heavy metal band Point Blank, 22HERTZ released their first album in 2013. Motivated by the commercial success of the previous album, 22HERTZ began to work on a new single with Yoad Nevo. However, the band encountered problems while trying to issue a copyright for the single.

The overly charged copyright turned out to be a certificate with a title of the song, without any information regarding the lyrics or the melody. Muller continued to search for alternative ways to issue a copyright for the song until he thought of encoding it in the Bitcoin blockchain.

Ralf Muller spoke to Cointelegraph about the encoding of the copyright.


Cointelegraph: How and why did you decide to copyright the song to the Bitcoin blockchain?

22HERTZ: Two words, free and absolute. In Canada, it costs $50 CAD a pop for one song and all you get is a certificate mailed to you with the title of your work on it. How this would ever help you in court regarding lyrics or a melody is disheartening. I contacted their support to ask this question and they replied, “I can’t answer that because I am not a lawyer.” I got inspired when I read an article a few months back when someone hashed a book into the blockchain, first time ever apparently.

CT: Images, texts, and digital documents can be encoded to the Bitcoin blockchain by encoding hex values to bitcoin addresses. Is this what the band plans to do?

22HERTZ: No not really. I don’t know much about that method and wouldn’t want to burden the blockchain with a few megabytes of song data if that were even possible. I’m going the hashing route with the OP_RETURN feature. Less bloat and as effective in proving a file existed in time.

22HERTZ logo

CT: The Bitcoin blockchain’s OP_RETURN limits data storage to 80 bytes. Other databases are far more efficient to store non-currency data. Why did the band still decide to encode it to the Bitcoin blockchain?

22HERTZ: Other databases might be more efficient to store non-currency data but are not as secure as the Bitcoin blockchain with all the petahash of power the network has. Once you encode a hash in the OP_RETURN and block upon blocks get written on top, it is basically impossible to go back and change anything, this to me is incredible.

CT: The band’s online store accepts bitcoin and offers discounts. Is this to support bitcoin? Or because other payment platforms are difficult to deal with?

22HERTZ: Anything to help destroy the greatest form of evil on this planet, the Federal Reserve System. Traditional payment systems are very easy to use but yes there are fees, and you are not helping the evolution of anything. I’m not into ‘business as usual’.

CT: Surprisingly, not a lot of musicians are accepting bitcoins for sales of albums, merchandise, etc. Do you think this could change over the years?

22HERTZ: Yes. Once more and better infrastructures are in place, I can’t see how other bands won’t at least add a bitcoin option. It’s just a matter of time for people to learn about bitcoin and compare it to our current banking system. Good information like this takes time to spread over a planet of over 7 billion people, especially when competing for attention with such things as sports, reality shows, etc.

Data Storage In The Bitcoin BlockChain

Transactions in the Bitcoin blockchain are more flexible than it seems. Each transaction contains a two-part script – challenge script which describes how a coin can be redeemed, and a response script, which is provided by the transaction redeeming the payment that has a signature to prove if the private key corresponds to the public key.

A transaction in the Bitcoin blockchain is verified by combining the two scripts into a validation script. If no errors occur during the process of verification, the transaction is verified.

Due to the ability of bitcoin transactions to store data in a script, new methods of storing strings or texts in bitcoin transactions were discovered. As different methods began to emerge, the core developers of Bitcoin standardized it to a feature named it “OP_RETURN” during the 0.9.0 release of Bitcoin Core.

The OP_RETURN function allows a “user defined sequence of up to 40 bytes,” which means that small data like texts, digital documents and even images could be encoded into the Bitcoin blockchain.

Storing data or assets in the Bitcoin blockchain is inefficient, as the core developers of bitcoins stated, "storing arbitrary data in the blockchain is still a bad idea; it is less costly and far more efficient to store non-currency data elsewhere.” However, as Muller mentioned, the “petahash of power the network” makes it impossible for anyone to change the information encoded in the blockchain. This could be used as an advantage to storing contracts, copyrights, and small data.