NFT copyright: who owns it?

The issue of NFT copyright ownership has been a major debate in the Blockchain industry. NFTs are analogous to trading cards because each NFT has a licence that grants the purchaser a licence to obtain the rights from the creator of the NFT to use the NFT at will. 

In this post, we’re going to answer the question of who has the right to copy your non-fungible token (NFT) and what you are allowed to do with the copyright of NFTs.

If you want to understand the concept of NFT copyright ownership, it is important to know that the NFT creator is different from the NFT buyer

NFT buyers are individuals who buy NFTs from content creators and then sell them to others. They create a market for the tokens and, in doing so, ensure that the value stays high. NFT creators create NFTs themselves. The difference between NFT creators and buyers is that the creators have no say in the prices of their items once they sell their NFTs to the buyers. 

Who is an NFT buyer?

A buyer of NFT tokens is someone who wants to obtain them to turn a profit. The acquisition cost, or the amount of money needed to acquire these tokens, should only be considered as an investment and not a means through which you cover your expenses. 

Who is an NFT creator? 

NFT creators are the company or group responsible for creating, distributing, and managing NFTs. The NFTs that the creators make are called tokens; these tokens represent the aggregate value of all NFTs created by the creators. The creators of NFTs will gain valuable exposure to investors, and they can exchange tokens on trading exchanges for fiat currency and exchange tokens for NFTs. 

The creators own the copyright of an NFT according to the copyright laws. However, if and when the creators willingly transfer the copyright ownership to a buyer or investor, they no longer have rights to such NFT. The buyer then becomes the copyright owner of the NFT. 

Yes, it is possible to buy the copyright of an NFT. Although purchasing an NFT from its creator doesn’t automatically give you copyright ownership, it is possible to get it, depending on the nature of the contract you sign with the creator. For instance, some NFT auction platforms sell NFTs alongside their copyrights to buyers.

If you intend to own the copyright of an NFT after buying the piece, you should ensure that the copyright ownership terms are properly covered in the contract agreement. Otherwise, you will only have the right to use and do business transactions with the piece but not own its copyright. 

The Digital Single Market Copyright Directive 2016/2031 (DSD) is an EU legislation intended to create a new protected licence for authors, artists, and publishers, enabling them to benefit from the revenue generated from the use of their works by people. This licence is known as an “NFT Copyright”. Its purpose is to allow, for example, authors to be rewarded for using their works via search engine results, online music services, sharing on social networks, etc. 

While NFT Copyright is intended to be applied to works of all kinds, the Commission has now presented a proposal that excludes certain types of works from the protection: namely, video games, websites, software, and certain databases. This exclusion concerns, first and foremost, those works whose copyright is safeguarded by the sui generis database right, as provided for by Article 6(1) of the Database Directive 1998/108/EC.

Conclusion

Some auction platforms on which NFTs are sold normally use languages stating that the licences are “transferable” between the buyer and seller. 

There is no confusion over who holds the copyright in NFTs because the source code of the NFT is published on the Ethereum blockchain, and the source code for an NFT contains the licence terms.

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