Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law Professor Tom W. Bell’s article “Copyrights, Privacy, and the Blockchain” was recently published in Volume 14, Number 2 of the Ohio Northern University Law Review.

From the abstract:

ohio law review coverThe law of the United States forces authors to choose between copyrights and privacy rights. Federal lawmakers have noticed and tried to remedy that problem. The Copyright Act makes express provisions for anonymous and pseudonymous works. The Copyright Office has tried to remedy that tension, too; copyright registration forms do not outwardly require authors to reveal their real world identities. Nonetheless, authors still face a choice between protecting their privacy and enjoying one of copyright’s most powerful incentives: the prospect of transferring to another the exclusive right to use a copyrighted work. That power proves useful, to say the least, when it comes to making money off of copyrights. Run-of-the-mill authors can invoke it by licensing or assigning their unregistered copyrights or by registering their works themselves. But what about anonymous or pseudonymous authors? Despite a good faith effort to respect authorial privacy, current copyright registration practices fall short of ideal. Far from a trifling matter, this procedural hurdle threatens to prevent copyright law from satisfying its constitutional mandate. This paper maps the problematic conflict between copyright and privacy and points towards some possible solutions.

Read the full article.

Professor Tom W. Bell specializes in high-tech legal issues and has written widely on intellectual property and internet law. His latest book, Intellectual Privilege: Copyright, Common Law, and the Common Good, was published in 2014. Professor Bell received his JD from the University of Chicago Law School, where he served both as a member of the University of Chicago Law Review and as Articles Editor and cofounder of the University of Chicago Legal Roundtable. Prior to joining Fowler School of Law, among other positions, Professor Bell was an attorney with the Silicon Valley law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and served as Director of Telecommunications and Technology Studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. In addition to writing a steady stream of scholarly works, Professor Bell has appeared on or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Los Angeles Times and many other news sources. He teaches Intellectual Property, an Advanced Seminar on Copyright Law, Property Law and Contract Law, among other courses. Other recent works include “Copyright Porn Trolls, Wasting Taxi Medallions, and the Propriety of ‘Property,’Chapman Law Review (2015), and “What Can Corporations Teach Governments About Democratic Equality?Social Philosophy and Policy (2015).

See more of Professor Bell’s writings.