Intellectual property (IP) rights have proven to be an important component in the digital world. Especially in 2022 with the growth of Web 3 and NFTs and the increasing illegal activities around it.
Intellectual property (IP) is a fundamentally important part of the modern economy. An old concept that goes back to the early Middle Ages, intellectual property first emerged in the 14th century. It is securing the idea of belonging/right to someone, such as physical property rights and property registries over land and other physical objects.
But the thing about ideas is that they are non-rivals, and this concept of non-rivalry is what makes it exciting and challenging. Intellectual property has been fundamentally important in the making of capital goods; Things involving ideas and the incentives for funding and licensing those ideas.
It is becoming a core part of the business model of the industrial economy. Some of the world’s largest companies have large balance sheets made up entirely of intellectual property.
But then along came the internet and the ability to freely copy data and information. This starts creating problems for intellectual property given the ease of theft or hacking. New business models have emerged that thrive on the exploitation of data and other information.
This has caused a shift to what has been referred to as ‘Web3’, a product of open-source programming and code to create a new decentralized web. Much of the fundamental economic framework and assets of Web3 are open source. That is, it does not use the old industrial intellectual property system. Therefore, IP rights remain a concern with the rapid traction of the Web 3 and non-fungible token (NFT) sectors.
web3 and ip required
Blockchain is essentially a bookkeeping mechanism for recording things. Humans have gone through several iterations of bookkeeping to determine who owns what. This is where NFTs come in as a way to register and track ownership of digital goods.
Despite the constraints, the NFT market continues to expand as we move into 2023. The NFT market is projected to reach over $230 billion by 2030. But with rapid growth comes many hurdles. Creating an NFT for a virtual asset that includes artwork, a song, or trademarks that are no longer owned by the creators or do not have a valid license can get them into serious legal trouble.
One of the prime examples of potential trademark infringement related to NFTs was the Hermes Rothschild lawsuit. The French luxury brand claims virtual artist MetaBirkins infringed on the federally registered Birkin symbol. However, Mason Rothschild countered that his Metabirkins were not commercial goods.
The NFT community is looking forward to the final decision, as it could become a benchmark for using intellectual property in NFTs.
Many people ask whether or not it is legal to screenshot an NFT, and in that case, why do people buy an NFT and not copy it? People are free to take screenshots of NFTs in the same way as they are free to take screenshots of a portrait photo. However, each NFT is linked to a smart contract, which makes it unique and authentic. Blockchain technology ensures that the ownership of a particular NFT can be easily verified.
There have already been major discrepancies and doubts over the ownership claims. Galaxy Digital reports that buyers of popular non-fungible token collectibles such as Bored Apps Yacht Club and Moonbirds do not legally own any IP rights.
Over the past year, many brands have wondered whether this is the best time to explore Web3 or whether it is still too early. Some popular brands are going full force, while others have been more reluctant, given the unclear regulation surrounding the space.
But it also coincides with the need to protect intellectual property rights for projects, ideas, slogans, etc. Many companies have started to incorporate Web3 into their business models and have picked up similar interests. BeInCrypto reported in early 2022 that the entertainment industry topped the list.
connecting the dots
So what is the future of IP in this industry? Reached BeInCrypto mary machief strategy officer mix marvel, to shed some light on the matter. Mary Ma suggested that ‘collective ownership would be a viable solution to the current IP dilemma.’
Speaking further, there are two broad areas to choose from for IP regulation. One of them is the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. It allows artists to make their work public so that anyone can reproduce and benefit from it. The second is a solution between “all rights reserved” and “no rights reserved” that would give commercial or limited commercial rights to NFT owners.
Traditionally, protection for works of art is automatically granted through copyright regulation and enforced through centralized establishments. The US non-profit enterprise, Creative Commons, published the standard licensing CC0 in 2009. This allows creators to claim that their works are in the public domain.
solutions to consider
Everyone can use them for commercial purposes, with the creators of CC0-categorized works relinquishing ownership of these works within the legal framework.
“NFT creators have been choosing a “no rights reserved” CC0 license for their projects in recent times. Contrary to what most people think, “no rights reserved” does not mean that the original work is useless due to unrestricted duplication.” or that creators will no longer be able to make money from their own work. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.”
Robbie Broom described a similar scenario in a July 27 tweet that read:
The removal of the CC0 license’s limitations on copying, spreading and secondary creation, the self-promotion effect, would allow project owners to attract attention without much effort to promote their work.
Overall, various projects running in the space should adopt proper IP licenses to avoid mishaps or confusion. Especially now with regulators eyeing stringent laws that could further squeeze the sector.
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