Intellectual property rights
One of the most obvious applications of Blockchain technology is the registration of intellectual property rights to catalog and store original works. Countries, like the United Kingdom, that do not have an official registry, so the authors lack of adequate means to register the ownership of their work.
The difficulty lies in proving authorship and knowing who is making use of one’s work. Nor third parties have easy way to know whom to go to license the use of those works from. The result is that the authors are unable to stop infringements or obtain income from them.
A registry of intellectual property based on the Blockchain technology would help to clarify the authorship for owners and users. By registering their works in the block chain, their authors can have irrefutable and unalterable proof of their ownership. This is due to the characteristics of this technology, whose records are unforgeable, immutable and perennial. Additionally, the information contained in these records can provide traceability of ownership in cases where the works are sold or licensed to third parties. The authors thus have a digital certificate, which demonstrates the authenticity and allows owners to tackle infringements.
Nowadays, when an author uploads his work to the Internet, it becomes extremely difficult to maintain control over it and to monitor its use. With Blockchain, once the works have been registered and verified, the authors can investigate through different sources who is using their work and thus identify and prevent any misuse, or put in place licenses, if they wish.
In addition, much of the abuse does not appear to be ill-intentioned, but rather results from the difficulty of getting to know the author and obtaining the license at reasonable prices. This technology may also offer possibilities for licensing works by reducing the cost of transactions and expanding their availability and accessibility, facilitating the direct relationship between authors and users.
The use of smart contracts could assist in the sale and licensing of these intellectual property rights. These computer programs facilitate, execute and enforce compliance with the conditions established in them. These terms are pre-programmed so that the parties involved operate without incurring new charges or administrative costs.
These contracts may be formulated in such a way that they are tied to micropayments for the use of content. They assign a bitcoin address to a work, which allows users to make small payments to the author in return for their use. The author is thus remunerated without having to pay the high transaction costs of the financial systems. It is, therefore, a simpler and more transparent system than the currently available options.
The convenience of the Blockchain as a public registry is perceived and encouraged by many nations (Estonia, US, UK, Sweden, Japan, Brazil, Dubai, …). The EU is heading in the same direction, and begins to give legal acceptance to the information contained in the Blockchain records.
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