PhD Scholarship - Copyright and Blockchain

Hawthorn, Boroondara, Victoria, Australia
13 Oct 2016
End of advertisement period
06 Nov 2016
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Law
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time
  • Faculty of Business & Law
  • $26,288 (indexed) for three years
  • Based at the Hawthorn campus

Swinburne’s emphasis is on high-quality, engaged teaching and research in science, technology, business, design and innovation – teaching and research that makes a difference in the lives of individuals and contributes to national economic and social objectives.

We are seeking a higher-degrees-by-research student with exceptional research potential who has a strong desire to further the field of knowledge associated with copyright and blockchain.

Copyright and Blockchain
Copyright is an area of law where ownership is vexed, and ownership claims are often contested. The present international legal regime forbids introducing a registration requirement in order for works to be afforded copyright protection; however, without effective registration systems there is insufficient public data available to track copyright and ownership status. This leads to a range of problems, such as the inability to identify copyright owners of undocumented works (the ‘orphan works problem’), the difficulties of licensing because of high transactions costs (the ‘expensive licensing problem’), and the absence of a non-proprietary, multi-platform digital rights management system (the ‘locked DRM problem’). There have been some attempts to address these problems, however all have failed for various reasons.

Blockchain technologies may be useful in addressing these issues by facilitating fully transparent and accountable recording of things like asset ownership, asset provenance, and transactions between parties. Blockchain protocols can also be used as a platform capable of facilitating transactions between parties according to specific conditions, without requiring an intermediary or another party to enforce the agreement.

This PhD project will explore a number of blockchain applications for copyright ownership, including: the possibility of an authoritative, decentralized, and fully transparent copyright register; the requirements for implementation of such a register in terms of legal framework and technical architecture; the possibilities and effects of automated licensing systems using protocols like ‘solidity’; the viability of blockchain for new types of DRM systems; and the utility of blockchain for the orphan works problem.

Skills and Experience
You must reach the required standards of achievement and research experience for entry into one of Swinburne's PhD programs (see:

In particular, we are seeking applicants with a minimum H1 or H2A equivalent in a discipline relevant to field of research. The applicant should have excellent project management and data management skills as well as strong attention to detail. A demonstrated ability and willingness to learn new skills, work in a research team environment and acquire knowledge are essential requirements. Demonstration of peer-reviewed authored publications in relevant research areas is desirable.

A full list of the selection criteria is available in the position description

To find out more about the extensive benefits offered to Swinburne employees please visit:

The diverse culture within Swinburne is our strength and our success lies within the inclusive working environment built of employees from a variety of backgrounds. Swinburne celebrates and respects the strength that difference creates. We acknowledge that diversity in the university workforce increases the effectiveness of teams and generally the capacity for innovation. We welcome applications from Indigenous people; varying age workers; people with disabilities; people who identify as LGBTIQ; and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

We are proud to be recognised by the WGEA as the Employer of Choice of Gender Equality 2015, and of key initiatives such as Pride @ Swinburne Strategic Action Plan and Reconciliation Action Plan which are integral components of our 2020 vision – to become Australia’s leading university in Science, Technology and Innovation.

How to apply
Please include the following attachments; a detailed CV (including contact details of one academic and one professional referee), a certified transcript of all higher education results and a 1-2 page cover letter addressing the criteria laid out in the position description.

For further information, please contact Professor Dan Hunter, +61 3 9214 4432

If you are experiencing technical difficulties submitting your application, please contact the Recruitment team on +61 3 9214 8600 (option 2).

Refer to position number: 30521D
Closing date: 5pm Sunday 6 November 2016