Bit by Bit: Copyright in the Bitcoin Blockchain – Copyright

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Bitcoin is the first and most well-known cryptocurrency and is based on a technology known as blockchain. Blockchain works as a decentralized public ledger storing digital transactions in the form of blocks in chronological order.

In July this year, an appeal was allowed against a High Court order in the matter of alleged copyright infringement of the Bitcoin file format (read the preliminary judgment here). The Bitcoin File Format is the file format used to specify the format of each block on the Bitcoin blockchain.

Dr. Craig Wright, the petitioner in this case, claims to be the original creator of the Bitcoin source code and the publisher of the infamous Bitcoin white paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”, which was published under a mysterious pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. Dr Wright claims copyright in the bitcoin file format, the bitcoin white paper and three related bitcoin blockchain databases.

One key requirement for maintaining copyright is referred to as “fixing requirement“. In other words, for copyright to last, the work must be recorded in writing or otherwise. The Supreme Court found that the creation of the genesis block back on January 3, 2009, which was created in accordance with the relevant format file, did not meet this requirement because the protected work itself copyright not identified.

At the preliminary hearing, the Court of Appeal found that the Supreme Court had confused the requirement for fixation with the work itself and that Dr. Wright successfully identified the work – identified as a Bitcoin file format. The appeal was therefore allowed in the case. However, Dr Wright will need to find out how and when the bitcoin file format was recorded in order to claim successfully.

Blockchain technology has emerged as one of the fastest growing digital innovations in recent years. While some question the value of digital tokens as currency or otherwise, there are undoubtedly valid and useful applications for this ever-emerging technology. It therefore follows that intellectual property for blockchain technology is widely sought after.

When considering which form of intellectual property protection to rely on, it is important to understand that copyright cannot be used to protect ideas, practices or operating methods. In relation to the claim of Dr. According to Wright, this means that the general concept of blockchain, as described in the Bitcoin white paper, may not be protected under copyright law. The case of Dr. Wrighta also emphasizes the requirement that a copyrighted work be precisely and objectively identifiable, which could be difficult to achieve in some circumstances.

Compared to copyright, patents are able to provide broader protection for innovative concepts such as blockchain. It is interesting to think about how blockchain would develop if it were imaginary Satoshi Nakamoto they applied for patent protection before publishing their infamous white paper. For example, did the technology flourish and mature earlier because of increased commercial interest?

For the above reasons, I believe that Dr. Wright has a realistic prospect of successfully establishing that the fixation requirement is satisfied. I would therefore allow the plaintiffs’ appeal.…

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the issue. Professional advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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