On May 31, I spoke at USIP on how our PeaceTones music projects use innovation in the ways we make and enforce laws to help musicians in the developing worlds earn money from themselves and their communities. (See powerpoint slides.)

PeaceTones runs programs which teach Intellectual Property laws in the developing world to gifted and aspiring musicians. We also use technology tools to open up global markets for musicians from places like Haiti, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Kenya, Liberia, and Afghanistan. The problem we encounter everywhere, as do musicians all over the world, is that the global norm for IP law is an outdated IP system and it is inflexible. Years ago, Harvard Law School started work on the Creative Commons license (Larry Lessig) to provide an alternative to old IP copyright, and, it has become a major alternative force in the IP world.

In the early days of PeaceTones, Boston University Law school helped us to make a difference by supporting innovative changes in how we make laws and supporting our first programs. PeaceTones takes innovative IP to another level by connecting developing artists to fair trade music market systems. In the beginning, we had to do it with private international contracts. But now, with the blockchain, we are turning those private international contracts into a smart contract system that will be tied to virtual currency and payment.

Other law schools have stepped up their game in the innovation space recently. I’m beginning to work with students at Brigham Young University law school which has succeeded in putting innovation tracks into their law school technology programs with a focus on secure digital identity and smart contracts. Also, our next Internetbar.org Institute hackathon effort will feature the Tubman Project on criminal justice reform and will take place at Suffolk Law in the fall.