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If you’re a lawyer looking to learn about cryptoassets, smart contracts and blockchain, where do you start? And if you’re interested in DLT and crypto, but you want to read about the legal discussion and open legal questions, where do you start?
Here are some excellent crypto- and blockchain-related books to get started. Both easy-read intro’s and academic titles:
For an easy-read intro to Bitcoin: NYT journalist Nathaniel Popper’s Digital Gold: The Untold Story of Bitcoin tells the story of the early days of Bitcoin. A page-turner.
Former Bloomberg journalist Camilla Russo wrote another easy-read story, this time of the early days of Ethereum and the path that led Vitalik Buterin to come up with the idea: The Infinite Machine – How an Army of Crypto-hackers is Building the Next Internet with Ethereum (Harper Business, 2020). I’ve only just started reading it, but can’t wait to read the rest.
Wharton’s Kevin Werbach’s book Blockchain and the New Architecture of Trust takes a critical look at the claim that blockchain does away with the need for trust. Instead, it shifts trust what we need to trust, he explains. Although written by an academic, the book targets a broad non-technical audience and is an easy read.
For the academics or practitioners among us:
Blockchain and the Law: The Rule of Code by P. De Filippi and A. Wright, Harvard University Press (2018). A book written when Bitcoin and Ethereum were at much earlier stages, but it remains a very helpful introduction for beginners to the general legal questions raised by blockchain, digital assets and smart contracts.
Blockhain Regulation & Governance in Europe by M. Finck, Cambridge University Press (2018). A relatively short, high-level overview of legal issues and challenges for a non-expert legal audience. Very good starting point for beginners.
Regulating Blockchain: Techno-Social and Legal Challenges, edited by P. Hacker, I. Lianos, G. Dimitropoulos, and S. Eich, Oxford University Press (2019). A collection of chapters on various legal challenges of blockchain, including ICO regulation, blockchain in financial markets and the question whether core developers should have fiduciary duties.
Cryptoassets: Legal, Regulatory, and Monetary Perspectives, edited by C. Brummer, Oxford University Press (2019). Also a collection of chapters on various topics, including the law and finance of ICOs, blockchain tech for derivatives markets, cryptoasset valuation and crypto-assets in a historical context.
Cryptocurrencies in Public and Private Law, edited by D. Fox and S. Green, Oxford University Press (2019). This book goes beyond the regulatory questions and offers chapters on how conflicts of laws could apply in the crypto-context, taxation, the property aspects of cryptoassets and cryptoassets in public international law.
Blockchain + Antitrust by Dr. Thibault Schrepel explores the linkages between blockchain and antitrust (how can blockchain help achieve antitrust goals and how can it be used for anticompetitive purposes?). The e-book is freely available online and the most recent one in this list.
Oxford University Press has a Handbook on smart contracts in the pipeline: Smart Legal Contracts, edited by Jason Allen and Peter Hunn. Expected April 2022.
I’ve probably missed some excellent books and I’ll update this list periodically. Meanwhile: enjoy!
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