Are NFTs the future of digital ownership?



Let’s have a discussion about whether or not NFTs could transform our relationship with digital content, including issues around copyright and intellectual property.

NFTs have the potential to radically change our relationship with digital content in many ways. The following are a few ways in which NFTs could impact the future, but keep in mind the important question that we’re pondering is: Will NFTs actually accomplish these tasks? 

  1. Establishing ownership: One of the largest advantages of an NFT is that they can be used to establish/verify ownership of an asset. With an NFT, the original creator can prove that they are the true owner of a piece of content, such as an artwork or a song. This could be a game-changer for copyright law, as it could make it easier for creators to assert their rights and prevent others from using their work without permission. This is particularly useful because we’re in a time right now where digital artists and music producers have found it increasingly more difficult to get properly paid for their work. This could even be used for physical art, if someone were to attach an NFT to it as proof of ownership then if someone were to steal it then they theoretically wouldn’t be able to resell it without the NFT. So for this section I would yes, NFTs can absolutely help to verify the ownership of assets. 
  1. Enforcing licensing agreements: NFTs could also be used to enforce licensing agreements, ensuring that creators are fairly compensated for their work. For example, an artist could create an NFT for a piece of art and sell it with specific usage rights. If someone else wants to use said artwork for commercial purposes, they would need to purchase a separate NFT with the appropriate license. This could make it easier for creators to monetize their work and prevent unauthorized use. There’s actually a case that recently settled in court about this very topic, the NFT collection won. So for the section the answer is yes again, NFTs can seemingly help to enforce licensing agreements. 
  1. Creating new revenue streams: NFTs could also create new revenue streams for artists and content creators. By creating unique, digital assets that can be bought and sold on the blockchain, creators can potentially earn royalties every time their work is resold. This could be a game-changer for the art world, where creators often lose out on profits when their work is sold on the secondary market. This has been proven a reality for artists like Beeple and Jack butcher. Furthermore, having a popular artist attached to an upcoming NFT drop can significantly boost the collections chance at being successful. So now if you’re a popular artist you are likely to be approached by large collections and can charge a pretty penny for creating art for them. So yet again, our answer is yes, NFTs can definitely create new revenue streams for artists. 
  1. Protecting Digital Assets:  While having a trail on the blockchain is supposed to help with piracy the hard truth about this is that theft is very rampant in the crypto and NFT space. Hackers have been doing a fairly good job at stealing information and cleaning out peoples crypto wallets, which can include all of the NFTs and crypto currencies. So theoretically this section should be a yes, but for now there is still a long way to go. 

Overall, NFTs have the potential to revolutionize our relationship with digital content, especially when it comes to issues around copyright and intellectual property. However, it’s important to note that the technology is still in its early stages, and there are many legal and ethical questions that need to be addressed as it becomes more widespread. Furthermore, it’s important to note that not all smart contracts are created equally. So the value of an NFT and whether or not it impacts certain things will vary widely based on the details within the smart contract. 

Let’s take the Bored Ape Yacht Club as an example to dig into how their holders are using the IP rights. 

The intellectual property (IP) ownership for Bored Ape NFTs is a bit complicated, as it is not entirely clear who owns the rights to the underlying artwork and associated IP.

Bored Ape NFTs are part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), which is a collection of 10,000 unique digital ape images that were minted on the Ethereum blockchain. The BAYC is a community-driven project, and the rights to the artwork are held by the Bored Ape Club LLC, a Delaware limited liability company created by the BAYC creators.

According to the Bored Ape Club LLC Terms of Service, the company owns all rights, title, and interest in and to the Bored Ape NFTs and associated artwork. However, the Terms of Service also state that the company grants a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free license to BAYC members to use, display, and reproduce their Bored Ape NFTs for personal, non-commercial purposes.

It is worth noting that the ownership and control of the IP associated with NFTs is still a relatively new and complex area, and there is ongoing debate around how to properly assign and protect ownership rights. As with any NFT or digital asset, it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of the sale and understand what rights you have as a buyer or owner of the NFT.

Bored Ape Yacht Club is an example of a very well written smart contract that allows its holders to have ownership of the IP for the NFT that they own. Here’s a few examples of companies that have been started by Bored Ape holders using the BAYC IP. 

  1. ApeDAO: A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) founded by BAYC members that aims to support the Bored Ape community and drive innovation in the NFT space.
  1. Bored Ape Kennel Club: A separate NFT project created by BAYC members that features 8,000 unique dog NFTs, each with its own backstory and personality.
  1. Mutant Ape Yacht Club: Another NFT project created by BAYC members that features 20,000 unique mutant ape NFTs, each with its own distinctive look and backstory.
  1. Bored Ape Comics: A digital comics platform created by BAYC members that features a series of comic strips featuring the Bored Ape characters.
  1. Bored Ape Trading Cards: An NFT project created by BAYC members that features a series of trading cards featuring the Bored Ape characters, with each card representing a different attribute or trait.
  1. Bored Ape Golf Club Korea: The is a derivative of the 60 BAYC (Bored Ape Yacht Club) IP. The project also leverages ALTAVA’s recent partnership with companies like Hyundai Department Store , KIAF and Frieze.
  1. Bored and Hungry: Andy Nguyen purchased four NFT’s from Bored Ape Yacht Club to create Bored and Hungry restaurant.
  1. In addition to these there are many more people out there using the Bored Ape NFTs as logos for their personal brands. It won’t take much time for someone to browse crypto twitter to find BAYC or MAYC PFPs being used to build a brand. 

This is still such a new technology that there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding it. However, if this space continues to develop and if a lot of these major NFT collections survive the bear market then it is very possible for NFTs to revolutionize our relationship with digital ownership.  

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