Sunday, June 12, 2022

A New Battlefield, And A Dirty Secret

Should I start an article with opinion? Probably not, but I am no NFT/Blockchain enthusiast. 

For a start, blockchain, and crypto and all that newfangled jazz has a dirty secret. It uses a lot of
electricity. Check out what Jeremy Hinsdale writes for the Columbia Climate School.

He refers to last year's power grid problems (February 2021) in Texas, and we've been told to expect brownouts this coming summer. How are power hogs, like NFTs and blockchain-reliant "coins" going to be safe if the power is cut, and a server farm goes dark.

A server farm is the less glamorous name for "the cloud". Read Anthony Carter's explanation here:
And, read what Pavel of IT Syndicate has to say about the amount of energy used by data centers and server farms.
Fortune uses "dirty secret" terminology about that, but you have to subscribe to read it.
Paul Kirvan of TechTarget is more altruistic. The cloud is one of the greatest consumers of electricity today.
However, data centers need to be cooled. What happens if there is no refrigerant? What happens if there are no chips (because most of the rare earth mines are controlled by China), or if the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow and the price of solar panels is no longer subsidized by China?

For that matter, do those who want to go cold turkey on fossil fuels realize how much else is made from fossil fuels... like plastic, and anesthetics, and dentures, and lipstick, and deodorant, and refrigerators?

For more, read the Ranken Energy partial list.

So much for the Green New Deal.

Meanwhile, back to the blockchain, and legal blogger Pramod Chintalpoodi of the Chip Law Group explains who is leading the competition to dominate the global, blockchain patent application race. 

"Nine Chinese firms are among the top 10 in terms of blockchain patent family numbers, including Ant Group, Ping An Group, China Unicom, and Baidu. The patents filed by the nine firms accounted for almost one-third of all blockchain patent filings worldwide. The only non-Chinese business in the top ten is IBM."

As Mr. Chintalpoodi suggests, applying for patents is not the same thing as having patents granted, but I wonder if there could be such a thing as patent-squatting.

Legal blogger John L. Krieger of Dickinson Wright PLLC explains the who, what. why, and how of NFTs, the metaverse and IP. 

In part:

"....A blockchain is an append-only electronic database that stores data chronologically. Once a transaction is minted (submitted and validated), it is cryptically secured and becomes a block on the blockchain. Since the blockchain is decentralized, identical copies can then be distributed among thousands of unaffiliated computers. The data is permanent and irreversible and can only be changed by creating a new block.  What then are bitcoin, ETH, and NFTs and how do they fit into the picture – they are digital assets that run on blockchain infrastructure....."

Legal blogger Jimmy Fuglsbjerg Christensen of the patent lawyer firm AWA advises readers to prepare for a new copyright battleground in the block chain and domain names.

The point of blockchain technology is that is it touted to be more secure and more private, but what happens when pirates pile in?

Mr. Christensen suggests a few possible problems:

"...As blockchain domains are minted, they are traded as a commodity on NFT marketplaces, where the purchase confers complete ownership to the domain name. As there is no central governing body for blockchain domain names, ownership is not subject to any DNS-related rules, including alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. A brief search on some NFT marketplaces reveals that domain names containing well-known trademarks are already being openly traded.

Blockchain domain names present several issues for brand owners, including using the domain names for cybersquatting, selling counterfeit goods and fraud. In its Digital Defense Report from October 2021, Microsoft termed blockchain domain names “the next big threat” as they are increasingly used to distribute malware...."

He makes suggestions, which are reminiscent of how back in the Oughts, we writers had to sign up for every social media platform possible to retain control of our own author names, and also to buy a variety of dot com domain names, so we didn't have to call ourselves "the real...".

He concludes ominously:

"...As blockchain technology becomes widely adopted, these issues will increase in scope, quantity, and complexity. It will prove to be a new battleground for brand owners everywhere in the not-so-distant future."

If finding piracy and sending takedown notices was bad enough whack-a-mole, now the mole is a hydra. The blockchain makes copyright self-protection almost impossible. Pirates can mint knockoff NFTs with nothing more than a digital file and some cryptocurrency, then sell those knockoffs to unsuspecting collectors. NFT piracy may force change.

Legal bloggers P. Cramer and D. Munkittrick of Proskauer Rose LLP explain the potential for a piracy boom.

As they conclude:

"... Amidst the resulting piracy boom, it falls to creators to protect both their fans and their IP by scanning platforms for infringing NFT sale listings and issue takedown requests. But even when they succeed in getting a sale listing removed, the knockoff NFT itself remains immutably on its blockchain and the infringing content usually remains elsewhere on the web..."

So, all that considered, I'm not an enthusiast.

All the best, 

Rowena Cherry  



No comments:

Post a Comment