A law professor suggests that blockchain technology has the potential to bring about a significant transformation in the operations of copyright offices.
The research suggests that blockchain presents a multitude of game-changing advantages in the domain of intellectual property licensing and management.
A recent research paper authored by a professor from the Texas A&M University School of Law delves into the potential applications of blockchain technology in the field of copyright administration. According to the findings, blockchain has the capacity to profoundly transform the handling of intellectual property, both on a domestic and international scale.
Peter Yu, who is the regents professor of law and communication, as well as the director of the Texas A&M University School of Law's Center for Law and Intellectual Property, serves as the sole author of this paper. He emphasizes that blockchain's immutability makes it an ideal candidate for integration into the intellectual property system.
In the paper, it is explained that:
"On a blockchain, once a transaction has been recorded, it is virtually impossible to alter that record. Should the transaction be wrongly recorded, a new transaction will have to be hashed into the blockchain to provide correction. The immutability feature has therefore made blockchain technology very attractive for registering copyright, storing ownership and licensing records, or completing other similar tasks."
Yu goes on to clarify that, especially within the copyright system, a blockchain ledger can offer a method for individuals to determine the status of a specific record, such as whether the copyright has entered the public domain or become orphaned.
The research also highlights other advantages, including traceability, transparency, and disintermediation.
Traceability is described in the paper as the ability to trace the complete history of a registration on the copyright ledger from its inception. Making this information accessible to the public through a blockchain explorer or a similar method would provide an additional layer of transparency not achievable through traditional server-based record systems.
The final benefit discussed in Yu's paper, disintermediation, relates to blockchain's capacity to operate independently of a governing body.
As the paper states, "without relying on a trusted intermediary - such as a government, a bank, or a clearinghouse - the technology supports global cooperation even in the absence of the participation or support of governments or intergovernmental bodies."
Yu speculates that these advantages could lead to the establishment of an artist- or business-led copyright system where intellectual property is potentially registered and mediated independently of state involvement.