Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code

Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code

by Primavera De Filippi, Aaron Wright

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Since Bitcoin appeared in 2009, the digital currency has been hailed as an Internet marvel and decried as the preferred transaction vehicle for all manner of criminals. It has left nearly everyone without a computer science degree confused: Just how do you “mine” money from ones and zeros?

The answer lies in a technology called blockchain, which can be used for much more than Bitcoin. A general-purpose tool for creating secure, decentralized, peer-to-peer applications, blockchain technology has been compared to the Internet itself in both form and impact. Some have said this tool may change society as we know it. Blockchains are being used to create autonomous computer programs known as “smart contracts,” to expedite payments, to create financial instruments, to organize the exchange of data and information, and to facilitate interactions between humans and machines. The technology could affect governance itself, by supporting new organizational structures that promote more democratic and participatory decision making.

Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright acknowledge this potential and urge the law to catch up. That is because disintermediation—a blockchain’s greatest asset—subverts critical regulation. By cutting out middlemen, such as large online operators and multinational corporations, blockchains run the risk of undermining the capacity of governmental authorities to supervise activities in banking, commerce, law, and other vital areas. De Filippi and Wright welcome the new possibilities inherent in blockchains. But as Blockchain and the Law makes clear, the technology cannot be harnessed productively without new rules and new approaches to legal thinking.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674976429
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 04/09/2018
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Primavera De Filippi is a permanent researcher at the CERSA/CNRS/Université Paris II and a faculty associate at the Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

Aaron Wright is Associate Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Blockchain Project at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 The Technology 11

1 Blockchains, Bitcoin, and Decentralized Computing Platforms 13

2 Characteristics of Blockchains 33

Part 2 Blockchains, Finance, and Contracts 59

3 Digital Currencies and Decentralized Payment Systems 61

4 Smart Contracts as Legal Contracts 72

5 Smart Securities and Derivatives 89

Part 3 Blockchains and Information Systems 105

6 Tamper-Resistant, Certified, and Authenticated Data 107

7 Resilient and Tamper-Resistant Information Systems 117

Part 4 Organizations and Automation 129

8 The Future of Organizations 131

9 Decentralized Autonomous Organizations 146

10 Blockchain of Things 156

Part 5 Regulating Decentralized, Blockchain-Based Systems 171

11 Modes of Regulation 173

12 Code as Law 193

Conclusion 205

Notes 213

Acknowledgments 289

Index 291

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