Copyrights and NFT
The subject of copyrights is crucial in every field. After all, there is nothing worse than knowing that someone has appropriated the work to which we have devoted days and nights of blood, sweat, and tears. A lot of people might think that if something is NFT, you can just save it as a picture and use it on pages for marketing purposes or as your profile picture on Twitter. Is it that easy?
What exactly is NFT?
It’s been extremely loud about the NFT these days – bored monkeys, tickets, access packets, but what is it underneath? Let’s start with what it definitely isn’t, which is black magic. An NFT (or non-fungible token) is a set of values that are then stored on the blockchain. Each NFT has its own properties such as token ID, image address, description, and attributes. Then, it is saved on the blockchain or minted. This is exactly what it looks like:
Relax. We know that a wall of text can be a bit scary, but it is enough to read it calmly to see that an NFT is nothing more than a set of certain values. There, we can find the name of the token, creator, original image, etc.
How does copyright work?
Copyrights are a set of rights that are granted to the creator automatically. Suppose you wrote a book. You are its author, so own the copyrights granted to you. The situation is a little different with patents, but that is a topic for another article.
Back to the point – copyrights allow us to reproduce our work, sell copies and use the item for commercial purposes. To better understand how copyrights can be used or licensed, let’s use an analogy. Imagine that every creator’s law is a toothpick. The creator has a whole pack. He has the right to keep all of them, give them away for free to various people and entities, or sell them.
The main purpose of copyrights is to persuade artists to share their works and reward them in such a way that – as the UE Digital Single Market provides – “right-holders should receive appropriate remuneration for the use of their works or other subject matter” for the effort put in their creation. In such a scenario, everyone is satisfied. Artists and creators can live off their creativity, and the public has access to it. The cultural aspect is ultimately very important to the general well-being of society.
Copyright + NFT, is it that simple?
For “standard” copyrighted works such as movies, software, books, and music, the rules for the transfer of copyright and its overall operation are mature and well-articulated. On the other hand, NFT copyright is just at the beginning stage. Often because people are trying to abuse them, and as we’ve seen before, an NFT is just a code snippet.
Straight to the point – for many different reasons, copyright in the NFT world does not exist at the moment. First of all, when buying NFT, we are actually buying the code that you can see in the image posted earlier, not the artwork. So by purchasing a bored monkey, we do not become the owners of the illustration, but the reference to it, which is an NFT.
We also have another problem here – anyone can create exactly the same NFT, only with a different ID. In this case, it is very difficult to determine who is the rightful owner, because an NFT is only the content of the code that refers to the image, not the image itself.
There are also other challenges. Even if creators make it clear that by purchasing an NFT, the user also becomes the owner of the work, most countries require written consent to transfer copyright, which introduces a lot of complications. What if Alice, who owns the NFT, sells the copyright to someone who wants to use the NFT data in a movie, and then sells her NFT back to someone else? Should copyright pass with the sold NFT? There are many unknowns here for which there is no answer at this point.
Summing it up…
… Although it seems natural to transfer the copyright to the new owner of the NFT, it is not that simple. Moreover, this is also not the case with real, traditional art. Even if we buy an image, we are not allowed to sell a copy of it without the author’s consent. Property rights are a very broad and complicated topic, especially in an area where code is the law – the blockchain. There is still a long way to go, in which both blockchain enthusiasts and opponents will have to agree.
#StayTuned your team Mateico.