UIC Review of Intellectual Property Law


Nick Vogel

Citations to This Work

  • Scott J. Shackelford JD, PhD & Steve Myers, PhD, Block-by-Block: Leveraging the Power of Blockchain Technology to Build Trust and Promote Cyber Peace, 19 Yale J.L. & Tech. 334 (2017)


Bitcoin’s popularity increased as its value increased and people became excited about the prospect of a trustless, decentralized currency that could be used on the Internet. Within the last two years, however, people and organizations began exploiting the potential of the block chain that powers the bitcoin network. These people realized that the block chain—a transparent public ledger that cannot be altered—can be used for more than digital currency. One such organization calls itself Ethereum and its developers plan to use block chains to allow decentralized autonomous applications to operate free of government censorship or corruption. While such a network would have a profound effect on society—allowing trustless voting, uncensored social networking and the like—its impact on copyrights could be devastating. This paper argues that the emerging, decentralized Internet (also known as Web 3.0) will be the straw that breaks the copyright owner’s back. This paper argues that, with block chain technology and decentralized applications, those buying and selling unauthorized copies of copyrighted material cannot be subject to court injunctions; making enforcement of copyrights nearly impossible on a decentralized Internet. This paper then proposes that copyright holders get out in front of the problem by embracing a decentralized Internet. This can only be done by drastically reducing the price of copyright licenses. In other words, by offering cheap licenses at the dawn of Web 3.0, copyright holders can instill a sense that it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the ongoing struggle between technology and copyrights.