For true believers, the blockchain is poised to revolutionize every aspect of our increasingly digital lives. From its infancy, however, the technology has faced a legitimacy problem, plagued by an association with bad actors and illicit uses -- the Silk Road, hackers, Ponzi schemes and other fraud, market manipulation, money laundering, terrorist financing. This course will explore the law's responses to these issues, as well as the many other ways in which the law is taming the Wild West of cryptocurrency. We will begin with blockchain's beginnings: the Bitcoin whitepaper and the basics of the technology. From there we will examine the different angles from which the law has begun to domesticate the blockchain. Topics will include smart contracts, the treatment of cryptocurrencies under the federal securities, commodities, banking, and tax laws, and the ill-fitting patchwork of state money transmitter laws used to regulate many blockchain businesses. Along the way we will trace how blockchain, an innovation initially embraced by cypherpunks and cryptoanarchists, has gone mainstream. While both evangelists and skeptics are welcome, no prior knowledge of Bitcoin or blockchain is necessary.
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