Juried IP Dispute Resolution

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The views expressed below are not necessarily those of the Open Metaverse Research Group, but are the author's alone.

Juried Dispute Resolution On Blockchain

A precursor to this proposal exists with the Trive fact-checking system developed by David Mondrus and his team in 2017-2019 that was intended to enable crow-sourced open fact checking of statements made online that would not only monetize the process of fact-checking, but punish publishers of false information by progressively demonitizing their websites with the help of a browser add-on that also enabled web users to report facts for fact checking and contribute to bounties for the fact-checking process.
The Trive system was well developed as a prototype and the add-on released for the Chrome browser. However however the project failed to attract investors because the project leaders sought investment from investors and management of established media companies, failing, naively, to realize the fact that the established media, and its investors, had zero interest in truly objective fact checking. They only wanted to use it to punish their competitors, not ensure their own publications veracity.

Adapting Trive to IP Protection

OMRG member Mike Lorrey was an advisor to Trive and as such has access to the developers and their source code. This gives this a leg up in development.
Once the previously discussed Perceptual Hash system developed by Kayaker Magic is implemented to detect potential IP violations, an uploader of content seeking to secure their content with a smart contract on an OpenMetaverse Blockchain would be given the option of either declining an upload, if their upload is too similar to an existing upload, or to dispute the claims of pre-existing claimants. This would be akin to a web browser reporting a fact statement on a web page for fact-checking.
The IP contest then goes into a queue and the challenger would have to submit documentation demonstrating the provenance of their work, submitting files from the original Blender or other 3d modeling app, images showing their creation date on screen, etc. The original claimant would then be requested to submit similar evidence. Both sides could make assertions about the extent and type of claims being made. For instance if both people made a 3d model of the Eiffel Tower, they'd both be copying a real world object, and as such a perceptual hash only catches that fact and not whether one was copying the others actual work in a modeling application. In which case both would be entitled, if both created their models independently, of claiming IP rights over the same design, just as in the real world, buildings that can be proven to have been designed independently of each other that look similar or identical to each other can both be copyrighted by their architects. In copyright law, independent creation is a fair exception to copyright, putting the burden on the original claimant to show that their work had actually been stolen rather than merely independently designed by someone else without prior knowledge of their work.
This argument would be in addition to other claims such as "fair use" etc that also exist already in copyright law, as well as third party prior art claims, derivative work etc.
Both disputants would submit a fee for fact checkers to compete to verify. Part of the fee would also be set aside for users acting as jurors to judge the quality of the fact checking, especially if multiple fact checkers are submitting different conclusions.
Fees for preexisting registrants would not necessarily be imposed on the original creator, but would create an escrow collecting sales of the IP through the smart contract until the dispute is resolved, deducting fees from those accumulated revenues. A new claimant disputing the established rights of a previous registrant would necessarily have to place a bounty large enough to merit a fact checkers attention, and that of jurors.

Date of Creation vs 1st Past The Post

In IP law, there have been two models for priority of claims. One is whoever can document the earliest instance of creation, and the other is 'first past the post' i.e. whoever files for the claim first. These two models apply mostly to patent law, especially since GATT created WIPO and applied the Berne Convention universally, creating Copyright as a human right, not a privilege granted by the state, therefore no longer requiring registration of copyright with a government to protect one's rights. Under copyright, first past the post tended to prevail until WIPO adopted the Berne Convention.

Futility and The Perfect Being The Enemy of the Good Enough

We need to accept that it is impossible to create a database of all the worlds 3d content and textures, animations, sound clips, scripts etc etc for such a system to ensure that there will not be unjust claimants. We could, however create standards for perceptual hashes to encourage 3d content websites to implement for their own databases to encourage broader adoption of this blockchain based jury system, not just for an open metaverse but for 3d printers and other users of 3d modeling applications.
Some false claims will be made and the jury system is the best and fairest system to sort out whose claims are valid and whose are not. This will obviously cost people time and money to resolve, however we are convinced that the juried system operating on blockchain will be both the fairest possible system, and far cheaper, and faster resolving, than any real world government court system could possibly be, and therefore will provide more fair justice and better property protection for all creators, not just large corporations with teams of lawyers.