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  • Peter Kam Fai Cheung SBS

Blockchained Copyright Licensing

Do you know that you are a copyright author/owner in addition to being a copyright user? I believe everyone has his or her ideas expressed in one form or another eg in writings or drawings or photos, in sound recordings or videos, and not just enjoying, copying or distributing others' copyright works. You might also like to mix them eg inserting photos to texts, or subtitles to video clips, before publishing them via social media.

While worldwide copyright protection is automatic and registration of works is generally not necessary, to overcome the challenge to prove you are the copyright author/owner of your original works is a different matter. There are traditional non-transparent ways to help prove originality and so authorship/ownership, but the chain of evidence is not immutable. Disputes over copyright authorship/ownership are often the first line of defence in copyright infringement proceedings.

Transparent, immutable and decentralized blockchain technology as applied in the field of copyright depositary can resolve the challenge, not just for the sole copyright author/owner of works, but also for joint or collective authors/owners of works or various editions of works eg online games. Stakeholders can make use of such a blockchain-based depositary to time-stamp their works or editions of works deposited to help maintain the chain of evidence. I have been practising this myself to protect my original music videos.

While the blockchain technology is still developing and its application in the creative industries are few, I believe, there are opportunities for the better deployment of the technology in the copyright licensing context. I would like to see platforms empowering the blockchained copyright licensing and the possibility of paying copyright royalties via cryptocurrencies. To ensure fair reward, competition and use of each other's intellectual creation, I believe such should be the digital way forward for the creative world!

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