Blockchain and Copyright Issues

This paper examines the use of blockchain-based copyright registries. It highlights associated issues and explores the viability of a number of legal and technical responses.


1. Summary

The three technical aspects of copyright blockchains reviewed are (1) immutable ownership chains, (2) smart royalty transactions and the (3) higher degree of anonymity. By analysing these three aspects, the research focuses on the legal applicability of those features to copyrights, rather than on their technical implementation.

A closer look at current use-cases of blockchain-based copyright registries reveals a general ignorance by companies using them of potential copyright issues. Many business white papers, their terms and conditions focus on the technology’s benefits while leaving aside details of its implementation. Merely recognising the potential problems that blockchain applications might face would be a major step forward in finding potential solutions. Hence, future copyright registers should be developed in an open manner and include the possibility of altering the code, taking into account potential legal obligations in, while leaving ‘backdoors’ or subsequent changes to software developers. Companies should be open to address copyright issues and not bar the way to potential solution by implementing an immutable technology.

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