ascribe blog

Copyright on the Blockchain: SPOOL Protocol

Happy Easter! At ascribe, we’ve been working hard to make it easy for artists, collectors, and others to manage their intellectual property.

Under the hood we use the bitcoin blockchain to time-stamp actions like registering work, consigning it, and transferring ownership. We designed a short “overlay language” for the blockchain. We call it the SPOOL — Secure, Public, Online Ownership Ledger.

SPOOL transactions include:

  • Register ownership. Supports >1 unique editions, e.g. edition 1/10, 2/10, …, 10/10.
  • Transfer ownership
  • Consign, for someone else to sell on your behalf
  • And more

Of course, SPOOL is not the law. SPOOL must be used with a contract concerning transfer of copyright rights, which participants have agreed to. We’ve gone out of our way to write the ascribe Terms of Service (TOS) to do exactly that! We owe much thanks to ascribe’s in-house legal counsel, Greg McMullen, plus other lawyers in four countries who helped us write the TOS. The end result: SPOOL + TOS = copyright on the blockchain. You get all this simply and out-of-the-box by using ascribe.

ascribe is copyright on the blockchain

Interested in learning more about SPOOL? I just put up slides to explain further, with plenty of visuals. And, we’ve posted the full spec at

Happy ascribing!