Blockchain can protect musicians from illegal publication of their work and at the same time preserve internet freedom

On the Thursday 5th of July the European parliament has postponed the decision to oblige platforms such as Youtube and Facebook to filter content placed by users so as to block material that is published without paying for intellectual property (IP). The goal of proponents of this filter is to protect the creators of content, such as musicians, artists and journalists so that they receive their proper due when content created by them is published.

However, the proposal is controversial because it is a form of internet censure, which threatens the freedom of the internet. Platforms should be neutral so as to give everyone the possibility to express their opinion online. And the measure would not only protect content creators, it would also protect publishers, so that a site like Google News would have to pay for every link to a news article. As a protest against the proposal, the Wikipedia has blocked the Spanish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Catalan and Estonian versions of its online encyclopedia on Thursday.

The conflict between internet freedom and the rights of content creators can be resolved if blockchain is used to store and publish their work. In a permissioned blockchain, writers to the blockchain have been identified and authorized by a gatekeeper who ascertains their bona fide status as producers of the work. At the same time, the blockchain can be fitted with smart contracts that ensure that a micropayment takes place if anyone reads content from the chain. This gives the creators their due, and avoids filtering by platform providers who should be neutral. Here is a case where new technology can resolve a conflict between two norms, that of internet freedom and that of honoring the IP of content creators.

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