Copyright / IP

Consider, for example, a situation where creative works and their metadata are recorded on a blockchain database – the transparency and immutability of records mean that potential users of copyright-protected works will be made aware of the authorships, owners and other right holders. The ability to capture licensing agreements and payment transactions in real time will also ensure that the records are up to date. The existence of such a database can simplify the process of tracing a licence chain, of identifying the rightful proprietor or owner, as well as executing royalties.

Blockchain technology therefore has the potential to reduce the number of intellectual property rights (IPR) disputes over ownership, as well as to simplify any due diligence exercises and audit processes, for example in an acquisitions context.

Intellectual property (IP) right holders may also be able to safeguard their works from unauthorised use via smart contracts (i.e., legal contracts built and executed via software), which can automatically impose terms and conditions under which a work can be licensed or bought and can enhance the efficiency of such processes.

On the one hand, it is not expected that distributed ledger technology-based databases will completely replace traditional IP systems in the near future, given the potential for blockchain to strengthen traditional IPR regimes, it is likely that blockchain technology will continue to garner attention within the context of intellectual property.

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