August 05, 2019 Meeting of the Minds

For Questions of Liability in a Decentralized World, Blockchain Revolutionaries Should Look to Copyright Law

Freeman Lewin and Marta Belcher

©2019. Published in Landslide, Vol. 11, No. 6, July/August 2019, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

Blockchain revolutionaries believe that truly decentralized, distributed computing—the promise afforded by Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin and Vitalik Buterin’s Ethereum—will upend our economy, create a new Internet, and obviate the need for centralized corporations and maybe even governments. This dream of decentralization has begun to be actualized by an industry using blockchain technology to build businesses, raise money, and trade assets. But, in a decentralized world, who is liable? For the answer to that question, blockchain revolutionaries may need to look to copyright case law about decentralization in the context of peer-to-peer file sharing platforms.

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