Of Hammers, Nails, and Blockchains

Copyright and Technology

The phrase “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” originated with Abraham Kaplan in his seminal 1964 work on behavioral science.  He applied it — as many parents have done ever since — to young kids.  These days, blockchain technology is a hammer.  An excellent illustration of how this applies in the copyright field is a draft whitepaper, How Blockchains Can Support, Complement, or Supplement Intellectual Property, from the Coalition of Automated Legal Applications (COALA), a think tank with roots at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.  The whitepaper was mentioned at last week’s Open Music Initiative (OMI) meeting in London.

The good news about this whitepaper is that it catalogs most (if not all) of the applications to copyright issues that have been claimed for blockchain technology over the past couple of years, and adds a…

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