What happens when you create a new digital asset? Is it automatically protected by copyright laws? In this blog post, we will discuss the legal protection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and whether or not they are subject to copyright protection.
What Is An NFT?
NFTs are “non-fungible tokens”, meaning they represent digital assets accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and are stored on the blockchain. With NFTs, interchangeability is impossible, which means it’s a unique element that cannot be switched for another one, even if they hold the same value.
While NFTs may seem like a new concept, they’re actually based on an existing technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed ledger that records transactions chronologically and publicly. This means that NFTs are unique and cannot be duplicated or altered without the owner’s permission. Consequently, NFTs provide artists with a way to control their work and ensure that they are compensated for their creations.
Can You Copyright an NFT?
The answer is: it depends. NFTs themselves are not likely to be protected by copyright, because they do not meet the basic criteria for copyright protection. This is because NFTs represent data on a blockchain, which would not constitute an original work of authorship under intellectual property law.
However, the artwork that you mint (create) to represent the NFT may be protected by copyright. For that reason, you should never mint an artwork you didn’t create yourself (or in collaboration with other artists). You should not copy the digital expression of another’s NFT.
In the United States and Canada, copyright protection only extends to the expression of ideas, not the ideas themselves. So, if you have created a piece of art that expresses an original idea, it may be protected by copyright—even if it exists only in digital form.How Do I Know What I Can– Or Can Not– Protect?
If you are unsure whether your NFT or minted artwork is eligible for copyright protection, you should consult a qualified copyright lawyer. At the Law Office of Jason H. Rosenblum, PLLC, intellectual property is our main focus and all that we do. We are familiar with the challenges artists face when creating work on the blockchain and we are here to assist you in protecting your intellectual property in this emerging space. To schedule a consultation, simply use our Calendly link to reserve an appointment time.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.