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Let's suppose there is a P2P system for storing files on a blockchain. The stored files would stay online forever and cannot be taken down because of the blockchain's own nature.

If some copyrighted data (music, films, images) was uploaded into this blockchain, would the block holders be liable for copyright infringement? Would it be the person/company who created the platform? Or could the legal responsibility fall onto the uploaders?

I'm not sure which governments or jurisdictions could claim copyright ownerships since the blockchain is replicated worldwide.

Thanks in advance

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No government would claim claim copyright ownership, except in the case that a government had received copyright for a work from some source (e.g. a donation). It is the author of the work who claims ownership.

You will have to figure out the technical details of such file sharing, but the legal details are pretty simple: everybody involved would be liable. Any such data is contained on one of more physical devices, and gets copied to one or more devices. Each act of copying is an infringing act, so if there are copyings to 1,000,000 devices, there are 1,000,000 devices whose owners are liable for copyright infringement.

The person who distribute the software might also be liable, per MGM v. Grokster. Essentially, if a platform is created to enable massive copyright infringement, then the distributors could easily be held liable. Liability would be less likely if the service were a legitimate file-storing system that typically was used legitimately. Since tracking down a million servers is a bit of a task, the software distributors are likely to be the first target.

As for where a person would sue, the issue is not where the infringers are, it is where the protection exists: is the work protected by US law? UK law? Having registered copyright in my book under US law, I would pursue infringers in US courts.

  • Under international treaties, the owners of a copyright in any of the party countries may generally sue infringers found violating such rights in any of the other countries. – Upnorth Sep 8 '17 at 17:51

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