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Is expiring copyright the next goldmine for NFTs?

Is expiring copyright the next goldmine for NFTs?

Although non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are best known in the form of digital art, they exist in many other forms and represent much more than art.

In the creative industry, NFTs have been used by musicians like the Kings of Leon to release their latest album. In the sports industry, NFTs are created to record the highlights of major sporting events, such as the NBA. In the consumer products industry, Nike, Gucci and many others sell their branded digital products in the form of NFTs. Many more real-world applications for NFTs remain to be explored, and one of them is the digital publishing industry.

The implications of publishing and promoting books with NFTs have already been widely discussed by many. For example, the Alliance of Independent Authors is helping independent authors promote their latest books through NFTs. Other items associated with fan clubs, such as character cards, also convert to NFTs. Tezos Farmation, a project built on the Tezos network, even uses the full text of George Orwell’s Animal Farm book and cuts it into 10,000 pieces to use as titles for NFTs.

NFTs created from existing books are often subject to copyright. However, in the case of Tezos Farmation, the copyright had already expired. The text of the book can be used by any party for free. This raises a very interesting question: how can NFTs preserve copyrights and royalties for books whose copyrights have expired?

The application of NFTs in the publishing industry has so far focused primarily on books that are still in copyright and within the copyright lifespan. However, there are authors whose work endures far beyond their mortal existence and beyond their copyright; Can NFTs provide your heirs with a means to prolong the life of the book and its copyright?

Copyright’s journey to the public domain

Copyright laws are complex and vary widely around the world. Although few countries do not offer copyright protection under international conventions, most jurisdictions start from the premise that copyright is protected for the lifetime of the author plus a minimum of 25 years afterward. of his death.

In the European Union, copyright is protected for 70 years after the death of the last author. The same is true in the United States, except that books originally published between 1927 and 1978 are protected for 95 years after first publication.

. No matter how long copyright is protected, given enough time, anything will end up in the public domain. for 95 years after the first publication. No matter how long the copyrights are protected for, given enough time, anything will end up free in the public domain.

When celebrated literature enters the public domain, the future value of the work is essentially reduced to zero. However, there is often a disconnected community that intrinsically values ​​the work.

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Copyrighted estates about to enter the public domain have a unique opportunity to create a tangible asset in the form of NFTs from the intangible goodwill embedded in the offline community.

A good example would be Winnie-the-Pooh, a fictional anthropomorphic teddy bear created by English author AA Milne and English illustrator EH Shepard that is loved by fans all over the world. The first collection of short stories about the character was created in 1926. After almost 96 years, the copyright has expired and the book entered the public domain on January 1, 2022. The estate that owns the copyright does not will receive no future value from Winnie-the-Pooh, although the commercial value of such a world-famous cartoon character will remain high for a long time to come.

Just before copyright expires, the estate that controls them has a chance that no one else has the right to do anything with the works. If the estate had spent time connecting fans with an interest in NFTs, creating or collaborating on a project that resonated with them, and launching the NFT collection before the copyright period ended, the result would have been been very different. Winne-the-Pooh’s copyright term could have been much longer.

Extend the value of a copyright that is about to expire

Currently, publishers have no incentive to contribute to the estate of copyright holders that are about to enter the public domain because the work will soon be free. A certificate of authenticity represented by a negotiable NFT could incentivize such collaborations.

After copyright expires and the work falls into the public domain, NFTs will take copyright further into the digital world. Copyrights can be generated through market sales of NFTs on the blockchain, or through even more complex smart contracts created for specific first-edition, limited-edition, or rare signed-copy use cases.

Estates that own expiring copyrights have credibility, which is a precious commodity in the world of NFTs, and they have nothing to lose. They are in the box to capitalize on their current ownership, and the potential of a digital community.

Beloved characters and the worlds they inhabit can be a strong foundation not only for NFTs that can expand copyright, but also expand creativity in media such as literature, gaming, the metaverse, charity, etc. education and many more to come.

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