Blockchain Technology Paradigm: Proposed Functionality and Design Parameters for the Underlying Technology of a Copyright Registration System; Government Agencies and Digital Service Providers: Challenges in Working with a Blockchain-Based System to Enforce Copyright Laws

Meneses, Nicolas, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Graham, Daniel, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

In the U.S., laws related to copyright infringement have been in constant evolution due to new human inventions and the expansion of technology; throughout history, copyright regulations have been introduced to meet the needs of the time. In 1998, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was introduced to regulate copyright on the web. However, due to the appearance of new internet platforms that allow digital content monetization, copyright laws related to digital assets must be updated and improved with the use of contemporary technological systems. In my technical project, I analyzed several types of blockchain design implementations and identified a type of blockchain-based network ideal for e-government services like a copyright registration system. Then, for my STS Research paper, I made an overview of how copyright laws related to digital assets have been introduced by the U.S government in the past years. Furthermore, I also analyzed how some governments have introduced blockchain-based systems to support e-services and the impacts this has brought to citizens of countries like Estonia and Switzerland.
The technical portion of my thesis produced a categorization of blockchain-based network systems based on design parameters: accessibility, validation, and consensus. Then, based on this categorization, I explored the benefits of public-permissioned blockchain networks to support e-government services like a copyright registration system. The proposed system involves the participation of different parties like government agencies, internet service providers, and popular internet platforms. Finally, I analyzed the benefits of using Keyless Signature Infrastructure to improve the immutability of the proposed public-permissioned blockchain system.
In my STS research, I analyzed the most recent update related to digital copyright laws in the United States, the Music Modernization Act. The purpose of this act is remarkably similar to my proposed copyright system: protect authors from copyright infractions on the web and ensure that they get paid what they deserve. In my paper, I talked about the ethical motivations behind this act (government needs to enforce copyright laws on the web to protect digital content creators), the positive impact it had on music artists, and the need to upgrade it to protect all digital content creators. I also talked about different countries that have implemented blockchain-based systems for e-services and how this has affected their citizens both in a positive way (being able to access public services fast and securely) and sometimes in a negative way (by not having access to technological devices or not knowing how to use electronic services).
Both parts of my project complement each other. The technical portion of my work is the design proposal of a blockchain-based network system to support copyright regulations on the web and the STS portion provides an overview of how such a system could be introduced by the government (based on previous experiences like the introduction of the MMA) and the impact that it could have on citizens (based on the experience of other countries using these systems like Estonia). The purpose of my project is to protect owners of digital assets on the web, especially at a time when more people have started to make a living out of creating digital content for the web. Being able to work on both sections at the same time allowed to me see the importance of understanding socio-technical systems to increase the chances of making a technological product that is useful to society. In the process of writing the STS section of my work, I became aware that for a product to succeed, it needs to surpass the organizational and cultural challenges of our current society’s complex infrastructure. There are a bunch of functional technologies that could benefit society but are not being used because they have not met all the STS challenges for them to become useful.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Blockchain Networks, Private Blockchain Networks, Blockchain Technology for e-Government Services

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Daniel Graham
STS Advisor: Richard Jacques

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