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Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Web3 Promise of NFT Intellectual Property Rights ‘Far Off,’ Says Galaxy

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Ornella Hernandez
Ornella Hernandezhttp://azmitech.com/author/ornella-hernandez/
Ornella is a multimedia journalist covering NFTs, the metaverse and Defi. Before joining Azmi Tech, she reported for BeardBanker and worked for TV outlets such as Bol News and Telemundo. She initially began investing in Ethereum after hearing about it from her dad and hasn't looked back. Contact Ornella at [email protected]

Crypto commercial bank Galaxy Digital has inspected the current NFT market and figured that Web3 guarantee of digital ownership and property rights “remains far off.” Galaxy Digital studied licenses for top NFT (non-fungible token) collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and CryptoPunks for its latest information,

“A Survey of NFT Licenses: Facts & Fictions,” published Friday by the firm’s analysis team. 

While more than $118B in NFTs has been traded in the year-over-year duration on Ethereum alone, monthly trading volume has dropped by roughly 90% since January, according to Galaxy.

These declines were attributed mainly to the tremendous cryptocurrency market downturn that has caused numerous NFT investors to sell at a loss. 

In contrast, NFTGo data shows the number of addresses that hold NFT investments (excluding traders) continues to rise despite the bear market, specifically leading collections.

Almost no top NFTs obtain IP rights, Galaxy found

The information found that most top collections obtain zero intellectual property ownership of their underlying artwork or media. 

Galaxy also surveyed Azuki, Doodles, Nouns and VeeFriends NFT projects.

Recently, some blue-chip collections, including Moonbirds, CryptoPunks and Meebits, have changed their terms of service — placing discussions regarding NFT license agreements in the spotlight.

In the case of Moonbirds, Galaxy’s switch from commercial use licensing to Creative Commons (CC0) — without community consent — highlights that Moonbird holders never owned any intellectual property (IP). The parent company behind Moonbirds and Oddities was calling the shots.

“CC0 licenses are too permissive,” Galaxy said because it moves the IP into the public domain, which means no one truly owns it. This makes it “unfeasible for entrepreneurs to integrate NFTs into their businesses due to the lack of legal protections.”

As for recently obtained Yuga Labs collections CryptoPunks and Meebits, the report found that the new license terms (enacted on Monday) are “significantly more professional and explicit in the ownership and license terms.”

Yuga Labs has recognized it has the right to unilaterally update or alter the license terms for these projects, which is “usually buried” in terms and conditions policies or “never clearly stated” on secondary trading platforms such as OpenSea

On the other hand, Galaxy labelled BAYC’s license as potentially misleading. It’s unclear whether Yuga Labs intends to confer equal commercial use rights to holders of Apes and Punks.

“If Yuga Labs does intend for the licenses to be functionally identical, they should update the BAYC license to remove misleading phrases like ‘you own the underlying Bored Ape, the Art, completely,'” the report said.

The report said that Yuga Labs‘ “Otherdeed for Otherside” NFTs, the plots of metaverse land, are the first tokens issued by Yuga Labs that don’t confer commercial rights.

The NFTs‘ terms and conditions state that while owners can use and transfer the virtual land they purchase, Otherdeed owners have no rights to the copyright for associated media, including artwork.

Yet, owners of Kodas, the creatures that roam the Otherside, have full commercial rights for the art consistent with the BAYC license.

World of Women or world of litigation?

Galaxy’s report glorified one collection as the only project to attempt to transfer full IP rights to NFT holders: World of Women (WoW).

“WoW tries this through the requirement of a novel copyright assignment agreement,” a governance framework which transfers the copyright of each artwork to whoever owns the WoW NFT.

Still, there’s a problem. It’s unclear whether the IP agreement continues to hold in the secondary market, Galaxy pointed out.

“Unless both minter and secondary purchaser agree to these terms, there’s no guarantee that the IP assignment agreement will pass from minter to secondary purchaser,” the report said.

Galaxy concluded that metaverse realms Decentraland and The Sandbox do a “decent job of attempting to assign IP ownership to their users for user-generated content while properly denying what users do and don’t own.”

The firm offered three suggested action items to fulfil a future of digital ownership:

  • NFT holders should fight for their IP rights.
  • NFT issuers must fix their agreements for Web3 to have a chance.
  • The decentralized metaverse must enable intellectual property rights by default.

“While there is no necessity that NFT issuers especially confer full intellectual property ownership to purchasers, the lack of intellectual property rights undermines grand pronunciations by NFT and Web3 promoters that this technology will revolutionize digital rights,” the report said.

 

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