As the societal applications of blockchain technology continue to grow, the world is now seeing the once conservative field of law being infiltrated with this innovative technology. Infiltrated may not be the proper term as the Internet Court of Hangzhou in China ruled blockchain-derived evidence is now admissible in Chinese courts on a case-by-case basis.
Chinese Courts Rule Blockchain a Credible Source
On June 28th, Internet Court of Hangzhou reviewed a case involving accusations of copyright theft. Both the plaintiffs and the defense used blockchain-based evidence to prove their case. This has received so much media attention because blockchain and cryptocurrencies continue to be a controversial topic, especially in China.
This case set the precedent that will now allow evidenced derived from blockchain platforms and networks to be admissible in Chinese courts. Even better than allowing blockchain evidence to be admissible in court for the first time, this blockchain based evidence won the case for the defendants.
The defendants were able to win the case through blockchain based evidence; a win for the blockchain world and an obvious win for the defendants in this case. The plaintiff used blockchain technology to prove the defendant published the relevant works that the plaintiff owned the copyright in the websites that they were still currently operated.
The plaintiff, through a third party depository platform, was able to automatically grab the infringed webpage and conduct its source code identification remotely. Then, the plaintiff the uploaded the data onto the Factom and Bitcoin blockchains through similar technologies. The Hangzhou Internet Court found the electronically captured data to be highly reliable and credible.
Blockchain in the Legal World
The court ensured this reliability and credibility of the blockchain derived evidence by checking it was stored using blockchain technology was fully compliant with up-to-date standards. The court concluded that the blockchain evidence was reliable and credible, and for the first time, admissible. Such electronic data can now be used as the basis for the determination of infringement on a case-to-case basis.
While this case is only the first example of where blockchain-based evidence has been admissible to prove a defendant’s innocence in China, similar cases will continue to pop up around the globe. As blockchain continues to be implemented in businesses worldwide, blockchain is just beginning to start the hurricane of an impact it will have on the legal world.
An observed of the court proceedings, Katherine Wu, stated:
“This is no doubt exciting, but also makes me wonder: when courts in China are arguably more open-minded about blockchain tech than the regulatory debates we have seen in the U.S., that’s really saying something.”
As this court case foreshadows, the legal world is moving towards accepting blockchain technology. Wu believes that this judgment represents a more fundamental shift in attitudes towards “new” technological phenomena, as the judgment reflects that Chinese lawmakers should not reject nor impose a higher standard on blockchain simply because it involves new technology.
However, this precedential case will have an effect on courts across the world as well. It took time for the world to adapt to the Internet, the case will be the same with blockchain technology as it is with anything new to the world.
A Breakdown Deeper than Tweets
While many people may think a court case involving blockchain technology must have been confusing, this case was actually rather simple. It was a simple copyright infringement case. In this case, the plaintiff sued the defendant for reprinting his work on their own website without authorization from the plaintiff, and therefore, the defendant infringed on the plaintiff’s right of information network communication.
The reasons why a simply infringement case is getting so much media attention is the presentation of evidence differs from all predeceasing cases in China. The plaintiff did not use the traditional public notary when he presented the evidence of the infringement to the court. Instead, the plaintiff used innovative blockchain deposit technology to prove the case, and they won.
This historic ruling shows that Chinese courts are allowing blockchain deposits to serves as evidence that will be admissible in the court of law. In the past, the field of depository has needed a third-party authority to verify the evidence under the witness of a notary. What this judgment, that will no longer be the sole requirement.
The Court agreed upon that blockchain deposit system saves the information to the blockchain and cannot be manipulated after storage and is therefore both reliable and credible, the two most important aspects of evidence. With every node on the blockchain completely preserving the evidence, the evidence is clearly secure and extremely difficult to tamper with, making blockchain based evidence the perfect type of evidence to allow in a courtroom.