Business 20 December 2018

Dennis Wafula

China creates new Internet court based on blockchain

China has launched an Internet court in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou. The court will use blockchain technology to fight plagiarism for online writers. The aim of the court is to save time and reduce overhead costs for seeking justice for internet related disputes. So far China has set up three Internet courts in Beijing, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou to handle Internet-related cases.

At the time of the launch, the court was expected to accept court filings and cases electronically. The court was given the mandate to rule online cases via live stream. To use the court, a plaintiff will have to verify their identity with a government-issued ID or an Alipay account.

The new court is intended to help settle disputes in the online community. According to reports, in the city’s Binjiang district, which has been dubbed a “writers’ village,” there are over hundred online writers currently contracted. These writers have reportedly had issues with piracy over the years. However, it has become increasingly challenging for writers who sought to prove their ownership of any piece of work done online. Most of these writers have resort to download content and screenshots as proof of ownership. These methods of ‘proof’ can easily be forged, making them ineffective as evidence.

To help solve these issues, the Hangzhou Internet Court decided to use the distributed ledger to address the problems. The court believes that it will be impossible to interfere with the evidence that is logged in the technology due to its decentralized nature. In addition, the technology will help track authorship, content, time of creation and plagiarism.

The Internet Court became the first court in the country to recognize blockchain technology as a means of storing evidence. A recently concluded case greatly influenced this decision. The case involved a company based in Hangzhou who sued a Shenzhen-based tech firm for making publications of the plaintiff’s copyrighted material on its official website.

The plaintiff took a snapshot of the tech firm’s webpage, source code included, and uploaded it all to a blockchain. After investigations were concluded, the Internet Court maintained that this form of electronic data would henceforth serve as a form of evidence in copyright infringement cases.

Before creating the internet court in Hangzhou, the Zhejiang High Court launched a pilot program that created a Zhejiang E-Commerce Online Court System. The system was to handle the increasing caseload in Hangzhou. Among the courts that joined the system were three Hangzhou trial courts and the Intermediate Court of Hangzhou.

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