April 18, 2024

Intellectual property (IP) refers to legal protections for creations of the mind, such as inventions and images used in commerce. These protections allow individuals and businesses to own and control their intellectual products. IP rights have become increasingly important in the digital world as new technologies and business models, such as web3 and NFTs, emerge.

However, while these technologies have the potential to create new opportunities for creators and entrepreneurs, they also pose challenges for IP protection, as internet users can copy digital content. As a result, IP rights remain a crucial concern in the digital world of web3 and NFTs.

Importance of IP Rights in NFTs

Blockchain technology records and tracks digital assets’ ownership through non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As a result, the NFT market could rapidly grow and reach over $230 billion by 2030. However, the creation and sale of NFTs for virtual assets that infringe on intellectual property rights or for which the creator does not have a valid license can lead to legal issues. Therefore, creators and buyers need to consider the legal implications of NFTs carefully.

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It is legal to take a screenshot of an NFT, but the unique and authentic nature of each NFT is secured through a smart contract and verified by blockchain technology. Despite this, there have been questions about the ownership of specific NFT collections and protecting intellectual property rights in the digital space.

Some brands have explored incorporating NFTs into their business models, but there needs to be more certainty about the regulation of NFTs in the market. The entertainment industry has shown particular interest in using NFTs.

One example is the Hermes Rothschild lawsuit, in which the French luxury brand claims that the virtual artist Metabirkins infringed on its registered Birkin emblems. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for the use of intellectual property in NFTs.

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Solutions

One potential solution for the intellectual property (IP) challenges in the non-fungible token (NFT) industry is collective ownership, according to Mary Ma, the Chief Strategy Officer at MixMarvel.

There are two broad options for regulating IP in the NFT space. The Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, which allows artists to place their work in the public domain for anyone to use and profit from, and a solution that offers NFT owners commercial or limited commercial rights between “all rights reserved” and “no rights reserved.”

Creators who use the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license may allow others to use their work for commercial purposes and may not retain ownership. This action can allow for unrestricted duplication and the creation of secondary assets.

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NFT projects need to choose appropriate intellectual property licenses to avoid legal issues, as regulators may create stricter laws that could impact the industry.


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