Since 2008, and particularly in more recent years, much has been written and said about blockchain technology. On the one hand there have been suggestions of it being more than a revolution whilst on the other, it has been regarded as a mere “hype”. Yet, a closer insight reveals that the truth may be found somewhere in between. Particularly, managing Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) has frequently been viewed as a relevant ‘use case’ for the supposedly ground breaking technology.

This paper will explore the application of blockchain technology within the legal framework designed for traditional collecting societies. In doing so, the paper will examine the potential for this new technology to strip aside the “middleman” and permit direct transactions between parties. Such elements have much significance for copyright law, particularly from the point of view of enforcement in the dissemination of creative works.

Drawing on recent developments, including an analysis of the Collective Rights Management Directive, the paper will question whether collecting societies have a place in the blockchain era or whether such questions are borne out of a mere hype.

The paper is based on an article which is being prepared for publication, with Hans Brorsen, titled ‘Losing Grip Block by Block? Regulating Mass Copyright Licensing in the Blockchain Era’.

About the speaker:

Dinusha Mendis is Professor of Intellectual Property & Innovation Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM), a Jean-Monet Centre of Excellence for Intellectual Property, at Bournemouth University.

Professor Mendis specialises in Intellectual Property (IP) Law, in particular, copyright law copyright licensing and digital copyright policy and has published widely in this area. Recent funded projects in this area have included commissioned research for the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) on the ‘Implementation of a Parody and Orphan Works Exception’ following the Hargreaves Review; a project funded by ESRC on ‘Copyright and the Value of the Public Domain’; and a project funded by the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on ‘Copyright and Illegal Streaming’ which is currently in progress.

Professor Mendis has also carried out extensive work exploring the challenges to Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) as a result of Emerging Technologies, such as the IP implications of 3D Printing (3DP) and the implications for copyright as a result of blockchain. Between 2013-2015, Professor Mendis led a commissioned project for the UKIPO on the IP implications of 3D Printing and in May 2018 was awarded a project by the European Commission to conduct research into the 'Intellectual Property Implications of the Development of Industrial 3D Printing', which is currently in progress and is due for completion in 2019.


Each year the OIPRC hosts a number of leading academics from around the world as part of its Invited Speaker Series. These events typically run from 5:15-6:45pm on Thursday evenings at St. Peter’s College; if the venue or time is different, it will be noted on the Events calendar.  The Speaker Series consists of a presentation of about 45 minutes, followed by a Q&A session with the assembled group of academic staff, students (both undergraduate and graduate), researchers, and interested members of the public.  Discussion is informal and includes participants from several disciplines, with a wide range of prior knowledge.

Convenors: Dev Gangjee and Robert Pitkethly

Refreshments and snacks are served at the conclusion of the discussion.  All are welcome.