Digital Art + Legal Rights = Valuable NFTs
It’s crazy that in the midst of a bear market we are seeing weekly $100k + NFT sales.
While many PFP floor prices are tanking, digital fine art on-chain seems here to stay and will certainly make an impact on traditional markets. Take for example Grant Yun’s AOTM sale of 84 ETH ($146,210) or Kevin Rose’s secondary XCOPY sale for 355 ETH — both occurring last week.
But what is even the point of NFTs? And how are artists supposed to protect their art (IP rights, licensing, royalties) similar to how they would in-real life? The simple answer is by providing legal rights on-chain. But before we get there, let’s take a step back and see what makes digital art so valuable in the first place.
As covered in our previous article, Art, Digital Cash, and Court Connectivity, we describe the value of NFTs by their ability to combine blockchains with art:
“blockchain technology provides functional utility, borderless liquidity, and accessibility for all…taking the form of NFTs, digital art has grown in popularity and can be purchased using digital cash, thus assigning real world value and unlocking a suite of tools such as lending protocols, IP licensing, and token gated communities. This makes digital art not just a good store of value, but a functional token that provides utility.”
This multi-feature asset has become a worthwhile investment vehicle because of its access to global markets and near frictionless exchange — all while maintaining proof of ownership and asset legitimacy. This allows artists to access new markets and build communities of collectors.
But what exactly are collectors getting when they purchase an NFT? Maybe it’s IP rights, access to a brand, or promise of future utility….or as is unfortunately the case with most NFTs — a near valueless jpeg because there is no way to legally enforce any of these rights.
Many laymen like to joke that there is no value in purchasing an NFT because they can just right-click-save the image. In most cases, they are right.
Intellectual property (IP) is an important part of the Web2 world with the IP of top brands being worth billions of dollars (think Gucci, Nike, or Ferrari). If Web3 does not take IP value and its protection into account, the digital image is worth a lot less. The most valuable thing those PFPs have is their intellectual property, and without it, collectors would never pay top dollar. This is why Yuga Labs purchased the IP rights for CryptoPunks and provided it back to holders and are fighting to protect the IP of BAYC through the Yuga Labs v Ryder Ripps case.
However, despite this, many Web3 influencers and artists think avoiding IP protections all together is in the spirit of decentralization and an easier way to go. Take for example CC0 NFTs, which Bybit describes as “A CC0 NFT is a Creative Commons Zero NFT in which the intellectual property rights of a work of digital content have been relinquished. Anyone can use CC0 NFTs with zero legal repercussions.” While CC0 promotes artist exposure and the production of derivative works, it has little value for collectors unless the token itself is given value by the issuer.
It makes sense why artists decided to go CC0, mostly because trying to set licensing usage and enforce royalties in Web3 is nearly impossible without large pockets to protect the art in court. And for collectors, there is almost zero clarity as to the rights they are actually purchasing with an NFTs unless you can find in writing from the artist all the licensing and usage limitations. There have been many examples of artists unintentionally hoodwinking investors because they do not clarify exactly what a collector is purchasing. For example, a collector may purchase an NFT with the understanding they can grow their business or brand with it, but in reality, lose all rights if the artist declares their art CC0.
The best example of this was Moonbirds. Following a trend of CC0 art last summer, Kevin Rose and the Moonbirds team decided to make the entire collection CC0. By doing so, he immediately stripped away value for the assets, leaving investors with a token that was only worth its weight in utility.
However, many folks will claim NFTs are about the art and not the price, utility, or IP. And yes, we generally agree. Art is the fundamental building block of the Web3 space and a large driving factor for Web3 proliferation into traditional markets. While NFTs have many benefits, they do not have the legal and physical attributes that come with traditional art. For example, clear licensing usage when art is commissioned, physical security, and insurance. NFTs lacked these key benefits…until now.
Court connectivity gives digital assets similar protection and value to what you already have for your car, house or physical picasso painting — providing the ability to recover assets in the event of a scam, hack, or loss of private key. This technology is called Jurat.
Jurat is a court-connected L1 blockchain and fork of BTC as of January 8th, 2022. Ordinals minted in the JTC ecosystem automatically include on-chain court access so that artists can enforce their license agreements and owners can recover stolen assets. No other ecosystem offers this vital legal connection for ordinals or NFTs. This is a huge value add for digital art and will certainly ease the minds of artists, collectors, and regulators — while greatly increasing the value proposition of these assets as they now can be recovered in the event of wrong-doing.
By minting assets on a legally protected chain, users can rest assured that they maintain the same legal rights they have come to expect in life, and will know exactly what licensing rights they are purchasing on-chain.
While Jurat technology is still new, it has been successfully used in state and federal courts. As Web3 and digital art grow, we are certain Jurat tech will help onboard traditional artists, collectors, and businesses into the next wave of Web3.
To learn more about the technology behind our product. Visit Jurat.io