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A court in China will begin accepting blockchain records from writers seeking to prove that they have copyright protection for their online material.
A judge for the Hangzhou Internet Court, one of three courts in China set up to deal with specifically internet-related matters, has endorsed the position on using blockchain records as evidence in these cases.
Hangzhou is home to 107 online writers who work in a ‘Writers’ Village’ in the city’s Bianjing District, the report said.
Blockchain is a technology used to protect the security of digital transactions. It works on the basis of an open ledger of records which cannot be edited, only added to. It is used to protect the security of financial transactions, as well as for other purposes.
Wang Jiangqiao, an Internet Court judge, said that in previous cases, writers would often have to use screenshots and downloaded content as evidence of copyright infringement. Data stored using blockchain technology is more difficult to tamper with and therefore more reliable as evidence in court, Jiangqiao said.
Writers will now be able to submit a blockchain record of their work and the date on which it was created.
James Godefroy, a China-based IP consultant with law firm Rouse, said that “notorisation by public notary” has previously been the only solid way of preserving evidence for judicial proceedings in China, but this is a “time-consuming and prohibitively expensive” process.
The move towards accepting blockchain records as evidence provides writers with a “low-cost, affordable and accessible means of protecting their copyright”, Godefroy said.
China’s Supreme Court ruled in September that blockchain could legally authenticate evidence. Godefroy said that “while it’s not surprising that use of blockchain tech in evidence fixing has become ‘normal’ in China, what is surprising is the speed in which it has done so” since the Supreme Court ruling.
It is not the first development surrounding use of blockchain to protect IP rights. Last year, sister site WIPR reported that Sony was to use the technology to implement a rights management system for e-book copyright owners.
Launched last year, the Hangzhou Internet Court is the first of its kind established in China to deal with internet-related disputes. The Beijing and Guangzhou Internet Courts were created earlier this year.
China, blockchain, copyright, online literature