March 4, 2024

What Do You Own Regarding NFTs and Copyright?

By Jacob Jhon-377 Views-No Comment

In recent years, the rise of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) has brought a wave of excitement and controversy to the world of digital assets and intellectual property. NFTs have revolutionized the way digital art, music, collectibles, and even tweets are bought and sold. As the NFT market continues to grow, questions about ownership, copyright, and the rights of creators and buyers have become increasingly complex and contentious.

Understanding NFTs and Copyright

Before delving into the intricate world of NFTs and copyright, let’s first establish some foundational knowledge. NFTs are unique digital assets that are stored on a blockchain, typically the Ethereum blockchain. Each NFT has a distinct identifier, making it one-of-a-kind, and they are often used to represent ownership of digital or physical items. In the context of creative works like digital art, NFTs have provided a novel way for artists and creators to sell their work and for buyers to own a piece of digital history.

Creative Rights, on the other hand, is a legal concept that grants creators exclusive rights to their original works, whether they are artistic, literary, or musical. These rights include the ability to reproduce, distribute, display, and create derivative works from the original. Creative rights are automatic upon creation, meaning that as soon as an original work is fixed in a tangible medium (like a digital file or a canvas), it is protected by creative rights law. However, the use of creative rights materials can be limited without the permission of the creative rights owner.

What Do You Own Regarding NFTs and Copyright


NFTs and the Tokenization of Digital Assets

NFTs have introduced a unique twist to the concept of ownership in the digital age. When someone purchases an NFT representing a digital artwork, they gain ownership of the token, but not necessarily the creative rights to the underlying work. This is a crucial distinction.

The creator of the NFT retains the creative rights to their work, which means they still have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and display the original digital artwork. The buyer of the NFT has ownership of the token, which provides a claim to the specific digital item represented by the NFT. However, ownership of the NFT does not equate to ownership of the creative rights.

Creative rights Infringement and NFTs

The NFT space has witnessed its fair share of controversy, especially when it comes to creative rights infringement. Some artists and creators have expressed frustration when their work is tokenized and sold as NFTs without their consent. This has raised concerns about the potential for NFT platforms to inadvertently facilitate creative rights infringement.

To address this, some NFT marketplaces are taking measures to ensure that creators have more control over their work. For instance, they are introducing tools that allow creators to claim ownership of their digital assets and participate in the sales of their NFTs. This way, artists can benefit financially from the resale of their work as NFTs.


The Role of Smart Contracts

Smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code, play a pivotal role in NFTs and creative rights. Smart contracts can include rules that dictate how the creator and the buyer of an NFT can use the associated digital asset. For example, a smart contract can specify that the buyer is only purchasing the right to display the digital artwork for personal use, while the creator retains all other rights.

Smart contracts can also be designed to automatically compensate the original creator with a percentage of the resale price whenever the NFT changes hands. This “royalty” feature is seen as a way to ensure artists continue to benefit from the increasing value of their work in the secondary NFT market.

Regarding NFTs and Copyright

Challenges and Unanswered Questions

While NFTs and smart contracts have brought a new level of transparency and automation to ownership and royalties, several challenges and unanswered questions remain. Some of these challenges include:

  1. International Creative Rights Laws: Creative rights laws vary from country to country, which complicates matters when dealing with NFTs on a global scale. Determining which jurisdiction’s creative rights laws apply can be challenging.
  2. Orphaned Works: Orphaned works are those whose original creators cannot be identified or located. NFTs of orphaned works may complicate creative rights enforcement and ownership claims.
  3. Tokenized Real-World Assets: NFTs are not limited to digital assets; they can also represent ownership of physical objects or real estate. In such cases, the relationship between the NFT and creative rights becomes more complex.
  4. Creative Rights Takedowns: NFT marketplaces and platforms face the challenge of addressing creative rights takedown requests promptly and fairly, much like traditional social media platforms.
  5. Disputes and Legal Recourse: When creative rights disputes arise in the NFT space, it’s unclear how these issues will be resolved, and what legal recourse will be available to the parties involved.

In conclusion, the world of NFTs and copyright is still evolving, and as it does, it brings with it a set of complex challenges and opportunities. NFTs have the potential to revolutionize how creators monetize their work and how collectors invest in digital assets. However, creative rights infringement remains a significant concern that must be addressed.

As the NFT ecosystem continues to develop, creators, buyers, NFT platforms, and legal authorities must work together to find solutions that protect the rights of creators and ensure a fair and transparent NFT marketplace. The future of NFTs and creative rights will undoubtedly be shaped by ongoing discussions, legal precedents, and innovative technologies that aim to strike the right balance between ownership and intellectual property rights.