Imagine a world where you could easily register and claim ownership over your original creative works – from music to photos to blogs. Gone would be the days of seeing your work duplicated all over the internet without proper credit and having no way to prove ownership. With the use of blockchain technology, that world is not so far away. Distributed ledger technology promises to transform the way intellectual property rights are established and enforced – and the way IP creators are compensated.
Before joining Steptoe, I oversaw the Justice Department’s IP criminal enforcement program. In that role, I worked closely with others in law enforcement and with the content industry – from film and television to publishing to music – in an effort to try to stop piracy and to ensure that artists and creators of all types of IP were protected. At that time, the world was just beginning to hear about Bitcoin but had yet to discover the many other applications for blockchain technology that go far beyond digital currencies.
Today, however, as “blockchain” is on its way to becoming a household word, we’re poised for a revolution in the protection of all types of IP. That’s because the blockchain can be used to control and track the distribution of protected IP. By putting IP on the blockchain, creators would have an immutable, secure, time-stamped record of the creation and distribution of their works. In addition, it can be used to establish and enforce licenses for IP through smart contracts and even to transmit payments in real-time to IP owners.