Blockchain and Copyright: Challenges and Opportunities

Blockchain and Copyright: Challenges and Opportunities

Pedro Pina (Polytechnic of Coimbra, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8382-1.ch007
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Abstract

Advances in the field of digital technology are constantly introducing new levels of controversy into copyright policy. Blockchain is the most recent technology with significative impact in digital copyright. Combined with smart contracts, blockchain enables new efficient forms of distribution of copyrighted works and also a new model of private ordering regarding the control of uses of works on the Internet. The chapter aims to examine the relationship and the most relevant intersections between blockchain, digital exploitation of copyrighted works, copyright law, and privacy law.
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Background

Blockchain technology constitutes a decentralized infrastructure for the storage of data and the management of software applications (De Filippi & Wright, 2018, p. 34). Blockchain may be described as a form of distributed ledger technology where transactions are grouped into blocks which are chained to the previous one, therefore enabling a transparent and tendentially immutable record of every transaction held on the platform. As Finck & Moscon (2019) state, each block assemblies multiple transactions, is then added to the existing chain of blocks and, after reaching a certain size, is chained to the existing ledger “through a hashing process (The ledger’s blocks have different key components, including the hash of all transactions contained in the block (its ‘fingerprint’), a timestamp, and a hash of the previous block (which creates the sequential chain of blocks)” (pp. 89-90).

One of the main features of blockchain technology is the non-absolute necessity of a third-party (e.g. public registers or banks) involvement for transactions and transfers of value, while providing the parties involved with absolute confidence in the validity and security of the transaction. According to Gürkaynak et al. (2018), whereas “a transaction needs to be verified by the central server in traditional databases, with blockchain technology, every node in the system has the ability to cryptographically check and verify any transaction. Instead of having to trust the central server (and the central authority maintaining such a server), peers using blockchain technology are able to create and maintain trust by relying on cryptographical proof in a consensus method” (p. 848).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Distributed ledger: A decentralized database managed by multiple members of a network across multiple nodes.

Smart Contracts: A computer program stored on a decentralized network that runs when predetermined conditions are met without the involvement of an intermediary.

Digital Rights Management: A copyrighted work’s management system based on digital technology that, amongst other powers, allows copyright holders to control access to works or to prevent unauthorized copies.

Technological Protection Measures: Digital technology-based tools idealized to control third parties’ access to copyrighted works or subsequent unauthorized uses.

Permissionless Blockchain: A blockchain which relies on open-source software, and where anyone can join the ledger simply by downloading and running the relevant software without the need for prior permission or approval to operate.

Private Ordering: The regulation, enforcement and dispute resolution by private actors potentially escaping the rules of the State of Law.

Permissioned Blockchain: A blockchain based in proprietary software, where permission from the administrator to a new user to become a node in the verification system is required.

Limitations (on Copyright): A set of free uses of copyrighted works that escape rightholders’ control, mainly because of public interests related to research, study, freedom of speech or the respect for privacy rights.

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