Important Correction: Ascribe “Legals” Clarified

Last week I wrote about ascribe.io, which is a registry that uses the Bitcoin blockchain to register ownership and provenance for digital objects.

A key part of the ascribe system is what they call “easy legals”: carefully worked out mechanisms for recording contracts and legal transfers.

In the earlier post, I made a couple of careless and misleading statements about these “legals”, which need to be corrected.

Basically, I had noticed that the terms and conditions for using the ascribe.io service are from a German jurisdiction. That is true.

Where I went wrong, and told it wrong, was to infer that this means that all the legal agreements are to be enforced under German law.

“(One can wonder if the “legals” from Germany are recognized, honored, and enforced everywhere. At a guess, I’d say “no”.)”

Worse, I said:

“However decentralized and global the Bitcoin blockchain, the records entered by Ascribe are interpreted under German law.”

This last statement is completely inaccurate.

Like other “smart contract” systems, ascribe.io basically records a cryptographcally sealed record of whatever contract the users agree to. There is no requirement to use German law in the contracts.

The records from the blockchain are designed to be useful as evidence in a dispute. It is up to the specific court and jurisdiction to weigh the value of these certifications, as well as to deal with potential disputes between buyers and sellers. Ascribe is striving to make it easy to create and access such records, and to assure that they are technically sound, i.e., they use solid cryptography and blockchain techniques to be reliable and public records.

I regret my sloppy error in my earlier post.

Ascribe is one of a class of “smart contract” services designed to use the blockchain. It is one of the most developed, and best documented examples, which is what drew my attention. I look forward to see what they develop for their verification system.


 

Acknowledgment: My error was pointed out by folks at Ascribe, who gently and patiently explained to me how it really works. Thx.

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