A Chinese court just issued a ruling that may have huge implications for blockchain in China, and give EU lawmakers some good ideas.

What follows is a short, but great Twitter thread on this topic from Mrs Katherine Wu, reformatted and published here with her approval (emphasis mine):

  1. The first EVER lawsuit in China that involves blockchain tech just got decided & the released opinion contains a really detailed blockchain explainer. This is entirely unprecedented and has huge implications for the legitimacy of blockchain tech in China.
  2. The Internet Court of Hangzhou court ruled that data stored on the blockchain is admissible as evidence in trial due to the characteristics of the tech. The facts are pretty basic: a dispute over IP/ copyright on a website.
  3. Defendant proved that its content was originally produced by showing two hash values: one on the bitcoin blockchain, another on FACTOM. The defendant had hashed the relevant data onto the relevant chains & proved by way of timestamp that infringement would’ve been impossible.
  4. Quote (roughly translated): “This court is of the opinion that when the issue at hand involves blockchain technology, an open and neutral attitude must be adopted. We should not reject or impose higher standards simply because it involves new technology”(umm HELL YES!!)
  5. This is no doubt exciting, but also makes me wonder: when courts in China are arguably more open minded about blockchain tech than the regulatory debates we have seen in the U.S., that’s really saying something.

Mrs Wu also added, in another tweet: “This is the Chinese judicial system’s first ever public decision on this & they demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the tech AND came out with such a strong statement and outlook on open-mindedness in regards to it. Worth some props for sure.”

I agree that this is important news in and by itself, and this is why I proposed Mr Wu to republish her tweets here. But I was impressed also for another reason.

China court that likes blockchain shows EU how to... /img/legitimacy-of-blockchain-in-china.jpg
when courts in China are arguably more open minded...

MY own addition: when courts in China…

… give legitimacy to what may become the basis of a distributed, federated, (relatively) low cost truly independent network of data for quick, reliable detection of copyright violations…

… they also show the European Union that there may be much easier, much more sensible ways to detect and manage potential copyright violations than the idiotic, automatic “upload filters” that would be an unavoidable consequence of Article 13. Please tell this to your MEP before July 5th, 2018.

That is why, as an European, I was impressed by that lawsuit in China. I remain convinced that ~90% of the current activity and talks around blockchain are in the vaporware/hype category, but this may be one of the exceptions. Of course, it would make sense to do it only if:

  • that “network” is preceded by a sensible reform of the whole copyright/Intellectual Property framework
  • actual blocking of “pirated” content is only decided by courts, not by “platforms” or other Internet services providers. Censorship is bad. Privatized censorship and surveillance are much worse.

PS: I am no blockchain developer. For all I know, using blockchain as I imagine here may be unfeasible, or have side effects I could never think of myself. But I’d like to see serious research on this, rather than lawmakers just going to extend solutions that do not work, and cannot work.