Michael Murray, ‘NFT Ownership and Copyrights’

This Brief and Pleasant Guide to NFTs and Copyright Law is written by Professor Michael D Murray, the author of A Short and Happy Guide to Copyright Law (West 2d ed 2022), and the principle investigator of the Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, NFTs, and the Metaverse Law Project at the University of Kentucky Rosenberg College of Law.

Part 1 of the Guide discusses NFTs, smart contracts, how works are registered and verified on a blockchain (ie, ‘tokenized’) by an NFT, and what rights NFTs convey and do not convey. Part 1 compares the rights of copyright owners to NFT owners who do not purchase the copyright to the underlying work tokenized by the NFT. It discusses the thorny problem of resale or display of digital works when you don’t own the copyright to the works. Recent cases such as Miramax v Tarantino and Spice DAO’s attempts to tokenize Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune book are discussed, along with CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Damien Hirst’s The Currency, and other NFT projects.

Part 2 of the Guide discusses the transfer of copyright rights to the purchasers of NFTs by assignment or licensing. It discusses forms of licenses and how to convey and communicate them to purchasers. Part 2 examines the pros and cons of bespoke licensing, community licensing by Creative Commons licenses, and assignment of the entire copyright to NFT purchasers. The licenses of Bored Ape Yacht Club and KryptoKitties are discussed as options for NFTs.

Part 3 discusses the copyright issues arising from generative and AI authored artworks under United States copyright law. Generative art NFT projects have become some of the most popular and lucrative projects to date. But certain forms of generative art, particularly those created by artificial intelligence, lack human authorship and thus are uncopyrightable. This part discusses CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoKitties, Chromie Squiggles, and other generative and AI authored art projects.

Murray, Michael D, NFT Ownership and Copyrights (July 2, 2022).

Murray, Michael D, Transfers and Licensing of Copyrights to NFT Purchasers: A Brief and Pleasant Guide to NFTs and Copyright Law, Part 2 (July 2, 2022).

Murray, Michael D, Generative and AI Authored Artworks and Copyright Law (July 2, 2022).

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