Joshua Fairfield, ‘BitProperty’

Property is the law of lists and ledgers. County land records, stock certificate entries, mortgage registries, UCC filings on personal property, United States Copyright and Patent registries of interests in intellectual property, bank accounts, domain name systems, and consumers’ Kindle eBook collections in the cloud — all are merely entries in a list, determining who owns what.

Each such list has suffered under a traditional limitation. To prevent falsification or duplication, a single entity must maintain the list, and users must trust (and pay) that entity. As a result, transactions must proceed at significant expense and delay. Yet zero or near-zero expense is the fuel of internet scalability. Until technologies get cheap and fast enough, they cannot benefit from the full power of the internet. Property transactions have not yet truly seen an internet revolution because they are constrained by the cost of creating centralized trusted authorities.

This article retheorizes the contours of digital property if that central constraint were removed. There is every reason to believe it can be …

Fairfield, Joshua, BitProperty (October 3, 2014). Southern California Law Review, Vol 88, 2015, Forthcoming; Washington and Lee Legal Studies Paper No 2014-17.

First posted 2014-10-06 05:45:29

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