"Blockchain Technology as a Regulatory Technology: From Code Is Law to Law Is Code"

Primavera De Filippi and Samer Hassan have published "Blockchain Technology as a Regulatory Technology: From Code Is Law to Law Is Code" in First Monday.

Here's an excerpt:

To illustrate the extent to which blockchain code can assume the function of law, let us take the example of a hypothetical blockchain-based DRM system. Copyright law introduces "artificial scarcity" in the realm of information, by prohibiting (or constraining) the reproduction of creative works without the consent of the corresponding right holders. Yet, given the ease with which one can produce an identical copy of a digital work, copyright infringement has become widespread in the digital world. Since many years already, content providers have been relying on technological means (such as DRM systems, or other technological measures of protection) to restrain the way in which content can be accessed, used or reused by introducing a new set of technical rules, as a complement to the legal provisions of copyright law. Yet, most of these systems are limited by the fact that it is impossible to distinguish one digital file from another. By leveraging on the transparency and immutability of blockchain technologies, it is possible to restore the unicity and transferability of digital works, by linking every digital copy to a particular token on the blockchain. Authors can then associate these tokens with a particular set of rights to their digital works and trade them in the same way as they would trade digital tokens. Blockchain technology can thus be used to implement "artificial scarcity" at the level of each individual file—thus potentially allowing for the reintroduction of the first sale doctrine [11] in the digital realm, without the need to rely on any contractual or legal means.

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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.