Software License Agreements I – Scope of the License

We’ll be looking at the typical items addressed in a business to business software license agreement (as compared to an end user license agreement).  The purpose of a software license between two companies are generally for the licensor, who has valuable software, to set forth how that software may be used by a licensee and the compensation and other items applicable to the licensee’s use.  Read more

New York’s BitLicense – License to Engage in Virtual Currency Business Activity

New York’s Department of Financial Services passed regulations which apply to virtual currencies, and require licensing of certain entities engaging in certain activities in connection with the state.  It is referred to by the State as the “BitLicense”.

The State says that any individual or entity which is involved in the following is required to obtain a BitLicense:

  • Virtual currency transmission
  • Storing, holding, or maintaining custody or control of virtual currency on behalf of others
  • Buying and selling virtual currency as a customer business
  • Performing exchange services as a customer business
  • Controlling, administering, or issuing a virtual currency.

Read more

Ricardian Contracts

Ricardian Contracts are really a stepping stone to Smart Contracts.  They are a way to link a contract to another system, typically an accounting system.  Ian Grigg came up with the Ricardian Contracts some time ago.  He first published about it in Financial Cryptography in 7 Layers in 1998.  Ricardian Contracts were initially used for Ricardo (hence their name), a bond platform.

They are a melding of a traditional contract with a contract that can be read and executed by machines. A Ricardian Contract can be defined as a single document that:

  1. is a contract offered by an issuer of some item of value (think of a bond, coin, token, currency, etc.) to a holder of such item;
  2. for a valuable right held by the holder, to be managed by the issuer;
  3. can be read in plain language by humans (so like a normal contract);
  4. can be read by programs (and is parsable like a database);
  5. digitally signed;
  6. carries the keys and server information; and
  7. is allied with a unique and secure identifier.

Read more

Digital Signatures – Basics of Hashes and Encryption

When dealing with online contracting, blockchain, clickwrap agreements, smart contracts, or just generally these days (and certainly in the future), you will come across the terms “hash” and “encryption.” Especially when discussing digital signatures. We’ll try to distill these a bit for you.  These are all regularly used in the transmittal of electronic information and verification of the information, the sender and/or receiver. Read more

Federal Securities Laws applied to ICO’s – Initial Coin Offerings

New “coins” or tokens and their platforms are all the rage.  Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, Dash, Ripple, Monero, the list goes on and on and new ones keep popping up.  The new coins are either entirely their own platform or they are derivations, i.e. spin-offs of one of the existing virtual currency platforms. Read more

Introduction to Blockchain and Smart Contracts

Technology is permeating all aspects of society.  Legal constructs are the latest to be infiltrated. We will discuss some of them in upcoming posts, including blockchain, smart contracts and related concepts.  First we need the building blocks to understand how the blockchain works.

Bblockchain is a form of a decentralized ledger technology.   It is decentralized, or distributed, because it operates on a peer to peer basis.  There is no centralized database of the chain or any blocks. Instead, for each blockchain there are various computers or servers which operate as “nodes” for the applicable chain.  Each node contains the entire chain, and nodes review any proposed block and it must be verified prior to it being added to the chain. Nodes can be anonymous. Read more

Overview of US Privacy Law

One of the current and future hot button legal issues is privacy law.  As technology progresses, how it intertwines with privacy rights is going to be an interesting area.  There are many instances where people knowing and willingly forego certain rights to privacy, like allowing certain apps to track their movements or share certain information with the world.  There are many instances where people give up part of their privacy rights without even knowing it.

There are a host of areas that people in the United States think of as “privacy” rights, some of which are (1) our individual right to choosing to be alone (to not be taped or viewed in private), (2) decisional privacy (right to contraception, access to abortion, right to marry whomever you choose, right to procreate), (3) information privacy (right to not have your information disclosed to third parties), and (4) others. Each of the privacy rights that we hold as individuals may arise from different areas of law including constitutional law, statutory law, agency regulations and even social norms. Read more