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Blockchain & The Law Weekly Roundup: 17 August 2017

Title:  Consortium Formed to Drive Blockchain Adoption in Legal Industry

Author: Bob Ambrogi

Date: 17 August 2017


Extract:  Bob Craig, chief information officer at Baker Hostetler, has a vision of a technology that will transform the business of law. That technology is blockchain.

Craig and his firm are part of a group of law firms and technology companies that this week announced the formation of the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium. The consortium will work to drive the adoption and standardization of blockchain in the legal industry, with the larger goal of improving the security and interoperability of the global legal technology ecosystem.

Members of the consortium include the law firms Baker Hostetler and Orrick, IBM Watson Legal, and the newly formed company Integra Ledger, which is hoping to become the ledger used throughout the legal industry for blockchain digital identities.


Title: Smart Contracts as Pre-Commitment Devices on a Blockchain

Author: American Institute For Economic Research

Date: 18 August 2017


Extract: Smart contracts are typically defined as any agreement whose execution is automated, usually by computer code. For example, I could agree to a smart contract with a local library stating that if I do not return a book by a certain date (assuming the library scans a book as it is returned), the cost of the book will automatically be charged to my credit card. In contrast, under a traditional contract, the library would send me a bill, which I could choose to not pay in violation of the contract. In the extreme case, the library could resort to legal means to force me to pay.


Title: ISDA Considers the Suitability of Swaps Documentation to the Blockchain

Author: Reed Smith – Press Release

Date: 3 August 2017


Extract: On August 3, 2017, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA”) released a whitepaper that considers whether derivative contracts could operate on a blockchain (the “Whitepaper”).[1]  The Whitepaper, titled “Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger – A Legal Perspective,” concludes that many of the provisions of the ISDA Master Agreement and related documentation can be translated into conditional logic and coded into “smart contracts.”[2]  While we are still in the early days of distributed ledger technology (“DLT”) and smart contracts, the Whitepaper represents a significant first step towards integrating blockchain into the derivatives market from the leading provider of swaps documentation.


Title:  Copyright Protection Through Blockchain

Author: Lana Smiley

Date: 16 August 2017


Extract:  There are currently a number of platforms helping protect the intellectual ownership rights to works of art. The issue is as ancient as art itself, as there have always been cases of theft and piracy. The other question is whether those projects are really able to protect authors against piracy or plagiarism by, for example, serving as evidence in court.

Different countries have different legislation, which does not always pay great attention to copyright protection and does not always acknowledge blockchain-registered copyright as evidence.

According to Addison Cameron-Huff, Tech Lawyer & Programmer, “The only way to change that is legislative reform, however there’s no way to displace the national registries so far.”


Title: Practical Examples Of How Blockchains Will Be Used In Legal Firms

Author: Bernard Marr / Forbes Magazine

Date: 15 August 2017


Extract:  contend that blockchain technology is going to disrupt many businesses and industries and the legal profession just might be next. Although there are many appealing characteristics of blockchain technology for lawyers, perhaps the best one of all is that it can secure information in an immutable and transparent ledger. Blockchain technology is on pace to revolutionize the legal industry and many predict it will become as ubiquitous as the internet is today.


Title: Cardozo Law Launches Blockchain Project: Focus on Legal and Policy Elements

Author: Cardozo Press Release

Date: 14 August 2017


Extract: Cardozo Professor Aaron Wright to Head Up Blockchain Technology Coalition of Leading Technology Companies and Global Law Firms Group to Focus on Smart Contracts.


Title: International Swaps and Derivatives Association releases whitepaper on legal perspective of blockchain technology

Author: Econo Times

Date: 15 August 2017


Extract: he International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) and Linklaters earlier this month released a whitepaper titled “Smart Contracts and Distributed Ledger – A Legal Perspective.”

The paper sets out what smart contracts and distributed ledger technology (DLT) are, how they can be used in the context of derivatives, and the related legal considerations. It says that while smart contracts have great potential to be used for derivative products and ISDA documentation, the technology is still nascent.

In addition, the paper also lists technologies that would be complementary to DLT and smart contracts s that could enhance use of the ISDA documentation. These includes E-Signing and Modularisation.

The paper calls for industry wide standards to ensure smart contracts are interoperable across firms and platforms. To that end, it said that ISDA is working to develop these standards. ISDA said that it has set up working groups to coordinate the various legal/documentation, regulatory, technological and reporting workstreams in order to future-proof standard documentation and align data standards.


Title: Is Blockchain Technology the Biggest Disruption in Law?

Author: Baretz & Brunelle – ITLA Session BNA

Date: 17 August 2017


Extract: A standout session from the third day of programming at the 2017 International Legal Technology Association Conference (ILTACON), “Where Does Blockchain Fit in Legal?,” brought together a diverse panel of experts and a packed room of participants at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

Differing in their ultimate opinions of the technology, the panel all agreed that blockchain might be the most important addition to the legal infrastructure since William the Conqueror gave rise to common law. The standing-room-only crowd further underscored a growing awareness for the need to prepare attorneys and firms for an emerging technology that could be as disruptive as Web 1.0 was in the 1990s.

“In the history of money, agreements, contracts and even general law we have come to a significant milestone. And that milestone is blockchain,” said John Alber, an ILTA futurist and previously Bryan Cave’s strategic innovation partner.

Stephen Palley, an attorney with Anderson Kill & Olick, appeared to be only half-joking as he hyperbolically asserted blockchain to be the “answer to life, the universe and everything.” Palley also took the time to define blockchain itself and some of the associated vocabulary.

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