The world is changing, technology is changing. We conducted an interview with one of the founders of a new startup Digital Witnessor and lawyer Mister Dhruv Bagri. He shared with us his knowledge about copyright, how to securely register it, quickly and easily, using Blockchain, and from a legal point of view.
If you have created your own software, your clothes design, a choreographic dance, wrote a poem and do not know how to register copyrights to your creation, how to protect your rights, then this article is for you.
- Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Dhruv Bagri, I am a Lawyer at RDB Associates. We frequently work on matters relating to Intellectual Property protection, including a lot of copyright infringement work. I’m also one of the founders of the platform Digital Witnessor.
- How would you describe Digital Witnessor?
We have developed a platform called Digital Witnessor that creates timestamps using blockchain on your works. This allows you to protect your intellectual property rights in just a few seconds. The timestamp is considered official proof of ownership, and this saves you a considerable amount of time and legal fees in case of infringements and helps in more than one way. As the Company is based out of Estonia and the Service provided has been structured, studied, and developed by industry veterans from Cyber Security Privacy Foundation PTE Ltd, a Singapore based cyber security company, it boasts of maintaining high levels of privacy in accordance with GDPR guidelines and also provides high levels of security protection to any and all content passing through the Platform.
- Why copyright is so important?
A copyright is a right in rem, which means that the right exists on the person who created the work right from the time such work was created. The platform is created at a time when there is a lot of uncertainty in the law with regard to copyright. Music and Art and their associated businesses are booming in the last decade. All these come under copyrightable work. So, the copyright timestamped entity that is Digital Witnessor helps protect individuals and companies against copyright theft.
- Are companies secure from their own programmers/employees and third parties?
Typically, the company would be the copyright holder, even though an employee might create it on behalf of the company. That is usually the structure that is in place and is an industry-standard. However, there are times when the company would not be holding the copyright. And that basically implies that the company needs to go ahead and register the copyright with country-specific entities/registrars that are available within their respective jurisdictions, which would create a legally binding registration that could be affected in a court of law. However, without that, litigation becomes a big hassle when copyright has not been registered. It becomes harder to prove that the work is originally theirs. So, Digital Witnessor takes away this problem for the company. We will generate a timestamp for the company data that needs copyright using blockchain technology. In fact, it’s just a hash that is created and that could stamp your creation. The main file would also not be required to be uploaded. A file would be stamped without giving us access to its contents in case of any sensitive and confidential information which creates a bit of a hesitation in the holder of the works as to providing such content to us.
- How can a timestamp be useful in court? It’s legal?
From a legal point of view, a proceeding that includes a hash-signed block is an electronic document that can serve as written evidence in court.
It would also be helpful in case you are applying for copyright after a particular period of time, for example, you need to apply for copyright because the company is selling its entity and the buying entity would require such IP rights to exist. Similarly, a company receiving investments, the investor would always be more favorable to companies holding IP rights as this would deem to be an intangible asset in the company books. So, a timestamp would help the registration authorities to access this document in itself and in determining the exact time on which such the work was created. That makes things simpler. Secondly, a timestamp would be binding in a court of law. Blockchain has been implemented in quite a few countries across the world. So, it would definitely be helpful in most of the countries around the world.
Timestamp plays the role of a virtual notary and is much more credible than the traditional one. Because nobody can alter the information on the blockchain, not even the Company and I think that is the beauty of this Product.
- What kind of blockchain – private/public are you using? Why?
We are using a public blockchain. Firstly, in a public blockchain, anyone can take part by verifying and adding data to the blockchain. Secondly, A public network is more secure due to decentralization and active participation. Thirdly, a private blockchain is more prone to hacks, risks, and data breaches/ manipulation. In a private blockchain, anyone who is overseeing the network can alter or modify any transactions according to their needs.
- How does it work? For example, I am a designer and I want to copyright a shoe model. What should I do and how will it happen?
As I mentioned earlier, it can be uploaded on the platform. It is not necessary that the design in itself be uploaded onto the platform.
Post which the platform would timestamp that particular uploaded file, in this case, that file will contain a shoe design. Once that is timestamped and the credentials of the author are stamped, it enters the blockchain.
It should be noted that the content of the original works is never available to be viewed on the blockchain or exposed publicly. It is not visible to us as and it’s not visible to any third party either.
So, what we provide is a time stamping facility which allows you to do three things:
• Legally establish yourself as the copyright owner of the work.
• Legally establish the date of creation.
• Take legal action against anyone who infringes on your copyrighted work.
Ease in assignment and transfer of said Copyrighted works to 3rd Party entities and individuals
- We know that Digital Witnessor works together with legal company RDB Associates? What is the role of this company?
RDB Associates is a full-service multi-specialty law firm based out of Bangalore in India and with multiple offices across India. I am one of the founding partners of the firm, which started in 2017. We believe that in our country as well many people are not going to go and get their copyrights registered, or we see that people do that for their other available Intellectual property rights such as trademarks, industrial designs, Patents, etc.
But with copyright, no one really gives that extra push to get their works registered. So, we noticed that there were many infringement matters wherein copyrights were in question and it was very hard for even the opposing counsel and for us to prove that such and such copyright existed at a particular time or not.
We did find a way to prove that the creations are in fact created on those particular timelines. It made the process a little more streamlined and a little more simple especially since it’s not easy for everyone to approach the registrar for the Copyright and requires properly drafted applications. With the introduction of the platform Digital Witnessor, one can do it in a few seconds and get the process of registration started with ease.
We have a separate intellectual property team that works on registration and cases of infringement. We are integrated into the whole aspect through the onboarding of our clients onto this Platform or giving legal opinions on whether copyright exists or not, sending out legal notices in case of any infringements, and so on and so forth.
What is the distinctive feature of your company from others on the market?
Presently there aren’t many timestamping companies. We don’t technically provide the same service as other competitors in the market dealing with similar platforms. However, one of the features that is distinctive is that we provide for easy assignment of copyrights from the copyright owner to third parties. So, that is a great feature that is available on our platform.
However, our other main USP is that our platform is going to be used across the world. Most of the companies that exist are very jurisdictional specific, so they only apply to certain areas thereby limiting their rights to such certain jurisdictions alone.
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- What are the benefits that a company would get by using the platform Digital Witnessor?
Some benefits that the company would get is primarily establishing their definite right in rem and streamlining the process of registering with applicable registrars/entities in their jurisdictions by making it much easier for registration of their work.
It will ease the process in a way that quicker decisions would be made regarding the infringement of copyrights. And individuals do not have to wait longer and go through a long, arduous litigation process to get justice. So we believe that in case of IP rights, it is important to establish definite rights and to not leave it open-ended whereby one invites liability. Streamlining the process is very important and that’s the main benefit that the platform would be providing.
- How do you see the company in 5 years?
We do have certain things lined up and planned for the next couple of years, for starters, the integration of the technology for agreements. Enforceability of contracts and agreement terms would be made much easier. So once this facility is provided, I think many companies would be or would in fact like using this platform just to streamline the internal processes as well.
But currently, I think we need to concentrate on copyright protection, and we shall take it one step at a time.
- We’ve covered quite a bit in this conversation. Before we wrap up, is there anything else you’d like to share about?
I think we covered most of the aspects of the platform and its benefits. Just looking forward to see how this develops, grows, and integrates itself into the market in the coming few months
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