Smart Contracts Shake Up The Law

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Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

On today’s Industry Impact we going over how the blockchain is going to affect the legal landscape and its participants.

My dad always said if you want to be happy, stay away from doctors and lawyers. With the advancement of smart contracts and blockchain technology you might be able to make this saying your reality… or at least not see the lawyers as much.

How Blockchain Can Help – Smart Contracts!

Smart contracts are essentially legal vending machines, programmed to define what happens when a specific condition is met. It then executes the agreed upon actions. For example, if you’re working with a real estate contract, one party would submit an offer, the other would accept, and the earnest money would be transferred over by the self-executing smart contract. OpenLaw is a platform that allows people to embed and execute smart contract code on the Ethereum blockchain. Once platforms like this gain widespread acceptance, lawyers may be cut out of the process of deal negotiation and enforcement. We’ve got a long way to go, but this is the first step towards the legal acceptance of smart contracts.

Smart contracts will still need oversight to make sure people aren’t executing a contract to, let’s say, execute someone. The legality of these contracts will still need to be decided and will likely be tricky to enforce since these transactions often include several jurisdictions.

Property Rights

Smart contracts are being used to help governments with storing property rights. Some counties do not have land ownership records online; you still have to go in person to look up paperwork. India’s registration of land records has huge issues regarding the transaction of a deed versus ownership of the land title, so property disputes take up the majority of the country’s court cases.

Digital Chain of Custody

A chain of custody is a legal concept that documents what happens to evidence in a criminal case via a paper trail. It must be maintained until the evidence is presented in court. If it is not preserved, no matter how relevant the evidence is, the defense attorney will file a motion to have the evidence suppressed. A chain of custody is difficult to maintain when dealing with physical evidence, but is even harder to maintain records of digital evidence, such as a device connected to a Wi-Fi network or a file on a hard drive. The blockchain’s ability to confirm information on multiple computers in decentralized locations can keep the chain of custody intact; preventing human error or tampered evidence from ruining a case.

Digital Rights and Royalties

Intellectual Property is extremely difficult to enforce in the digital age, but smart contracts are helping content creators monetize and maintain their digital rights and royalties. If an artist records a song then every time someone plays their song the smart contract releases the music after the money has been transferred over, just like old-timey jukeboxes.

Notaries

Some things don’t need to be a blockchain company, like Blocknotary, a blockchain version of a notary. The blockchain is awesome because they cut out third parties like notaries and are decentralized so you can access them outside of business hours. Blocknotary created a company offering a centralized 3rd party that could be eliminated through adaptation of the blockchain.


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