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Course Details

Blockchain and the Law (Tosato)

Spring 2023   LAW 608-001  

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Faculty
Andrea Tosato

Lecturer in Law

atosato@law.upenn.edu
Additional Information

Skills Training
Expository Writing

Grading
100% Exam

Exam
Essay,
Take Home,
Open-Book

Satisfies Senior Writing Requirement

No

Location

Class meets in person.

Course Continuity
Students are encouraged to stay home if you are ill or experience flu-like symptoms. If you miss a class for any reason, it is still your responsibility to make up the work missed.

I offer the following to students who miss class due to illness:

- Class sessions are regularly recorded. I will make these recordings routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

- I will make PowerPoint slides or other class materials routinely available on the course site to everyone in the class.

- Please make an appointment to meet with me and I will review/answer questions about what you missed.

Meeting Times/Location
TR 3:00PM - 4:20PM
Gittis Hall 2

Category
Upper-Level

Credits
3.0

I. Subject Matter Overview. Ledgers have played a cardinal role in the evolution of civilization. These instruments have been integral to the flourishing of international commerce, the development of banking, and the advent of capitalism. In the 21st century, the meteoric rise of distributed ledger technology (DLT) systems and blockchain has sparked enormous interest regarding the new functions that ledgers might assume in the future. It has been suggested that DLT has the potential to reshape almost all facets of society and the economy, including currencies, payment systems, voting systems, intellectual property rights management, artwork tracking, financial markets, property rights, access to credit, supply chain management, trade finance and personal identification systems.

This course aims to provide students with a sophisticated understanding of the legal and regulatory challenges presented by DLT. We will explore the key technological elements of these distributed computer systems, including blockchain data structures, consensus protocols, cryptographic identification systems, digital tokens, cryptocurrencies, stable-coins, smart contracts, and distributed applications. For each one, we will consider current and prospective use cases and analyze the private, public and administrative law issues that they engender.

II. Classroom Approach; Class Participation; Attendance. Classes will involve a combination of lecturing and dialogical interactions. Students are required to read through assigned material before class. This course relies on technical terminology, explores a vast array of categories and concepts, and emphasizes the art and science of mastering a great amount of material. Thus, regular attendance is warmly recommended. A seating chart will be prepared during the third week of class.

Students are encouraged to participate in discussions freely. I will strive to keep discussion balanced among students, and will call upon, or decline to call upon, students as necessary to achieve such balance.

III. Use of Laptops The use of laptop computers to take notes is permitted. Students are encouraged not to transcribe every word of class but rather participate in class discussions. It is strictly forbidden to use laptops, cellphones or tablets to browse social media, browse the web or send e-mails during class.

IV. Course Materials a) Books, Articles and Reports Two books will be used as quasi-textbooks:

- PRIMAVERA DE FILIPPI & AARON WRIGHT, BLOCKCHAIN AND THE LAW: THE RULE OF CODE (Harvard University Press Reprint edition ed. Sep. 2019); - DANIEL T. STABILE, KIMBERLEY A. PRIOR, ANDREW M. HINKES, DIGITAL ASSETS AND BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY: U.S. LAW AND REGULATION (Edward Elgar Pub Jul. 2020)

These are widely distributed, and available both in electronic and paper format. They can also be purchased used at a significant discount.

We will also be relying extensively on journal articles and reports issued by both governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations. These sources will be made available through Canvas.

b) Statutory Instruments We will explore multiple statutory sources. All of them are freely accessible on the Internet and will be made available through Canvas.

V. Content This course will be divided into three units: DLT Systems; DLT Assets; Smart Contracts, Distributed Apps, and Distributed Organizations. We will devote approximately 4 weeks to each unit. The remaining lectures will feature guest speakers who will offer their expert views on topics that are current and of particular relevance to this course. Precise assignments and reading lists for each class will be posted on Canvas under “Files” on a week by week basis.

VI. Assessment. This course will be assessed through a four-hour open-book exam. As the time draws nearer, I will provide more precise information and guidance.

Course Concentrations

Business and Corporate Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of business and corporate law; Perform legal analysis in the context of business and corporate law; Communicate effectively on topics related to business and corporate law; Demonstrate an understanding of the interconnection between the world of business and finance and that of business and corporate law, and how they affect other areas of law and society.

International and Comparative Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of international and comparative law, both substantively and procedurally; Perform legal analysis in the context of international and comparative law; Communicate effectively on topics related to international and comparative law; Demonstrate an understanding of the role of international and comparative law, and their interconnection with domestic law.

International Corporate and Trade Law

Intellectual Property and Technology Law Learning outcomes: Demonstrate a core understanding of intellectual property law; Perform legal analysis in the context of intellectual property law; Communicate effectively on topics related to intellectual property; Demonstrate an understanding of the interconnection between technology and intellectual property, and how they affect other areas of law and society.


Textbooks

"Digital Assets and Blockchain Technology: U.S. Law and Regulation" by Daniel T. Stabile, Kimberly A. Prior, Andrew M. Hinkes
Edition: July 31, 2020
Publisher: Edward Elgar
ISBN: 9781789907452
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