Copyright Licenses for NFTs vs. Physical Art


Copyrights in NFTs

When it comes to NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), the copyright situation is unique:

– NFTs consist of both a token and a license.
– The purchaser of an NFT typically owns the token itself but usually receives only a license to the underlying digital asset referenced in the NFT’s metadata.
– The copyright owner (usually the issuer of the NFT) generally retains the rights in the underlying work, including the digital art, music, or other content associated with the NFT.


Copyright in Physical Art

In contrast, the copyright arrangement for physical art follows a similar pattern:

– Physical art includes the tangible artwork itself along with a license.
– When someone purchases physical art, they primarily own the physical painting or sculpture.
– However, they typically only receive a license to use the copyright associated with the artwork.
– The copyright creator, usually the artist, generally retains the rights in the underlying work, which includes the artistic creation itself.


Distinct Copyright from Material Object

In both NFTs and physical art, it’s essential to recognize that the copyright is distinct from the ownership of the material object:

– The sale or transfer of the material object, whether it’s a physical painting or an NFT, does not in itself constitute a transfer of the copyright associated with the work.
– This means that even if you own the NFT or the physical art, you may not necessarily have full copyright rights to the underlying creative work.

In summary, the ownership and copyright aspects of NFTs and physical art are somewhat similar in that purchasers generally own the physical object or token but receive licenses for the associated copyrights. The copyrights themselves are distinct from the material objects or tokens and are typically retained by the original creators or issuers.

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