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Copyright registration on blockchain

Copyright registration on blockchain

Recently, I found a misleading website which provides registration service for intellectual property. It provides a global registry for patents, designs and trademarks on the blockchain network. It says you can register an intellectual property in minutes at a cost of less than $15.

This website should add more explanation. The registration on the blockchain certainly helps you prove the existence of a particular document at some point in time. However, it doesn’t create rights of patent, design or trademark, even if such a document describes a new idea, design or trade name. You need to file an application to the patent office and get through an examination to obtain such a right.

On the other hand, it doesn’t require any procedure to obtain copyright. That is, once created a copyright work, you can obtain copyright for that work. However, the government prepared copyright registration system for ease of proving some facts and for public notification. For example, in Japan, you can register the followings.

  • real name in case where you publish a copyright work under no-name or an assumed name
  • the first issue date of a copyright work
  • creation date of a computer program

When registered, they are presumed as such, unless proven otherwise. It costs JPY 9,000 (about $80) to register real name, and JPY 47,000 (about $420) to register creation date of a computer program. So, if there’s another option to prove such things easily and at lower cost, that would make creators happy. Blockchain technology could be a good option. Actually, there are already several applications for copyright registration, as below.

In Japan, on October 15 2018, Sony made an announcement that it developed rights management system for digital content utilizing blockchain. Also, as previously introduced, the government is leading a blockchain-based content service platform.

Related article: “Japan to develop a blockchain-based content service platform”

The Japanese copyright registration system provides another functionality. It allows to register the transfer of copyright. Such registration is the perfection requirement for the transfer of copyright against third parties.

Such legal consequences are unrealizable by technologies alone, and the collaboration with the government is required. However, if the purpose of the registration system (e.g. public notification for the safety of transactions) can be realized by technologies, there might be a possibility of alternative options being allowed. I’m expecting effective use of blockchain technology to improve the intellectual property system.

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