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Intellectual property and copyrights are complicated phenomena with long and convoluted histories. Dating back to the 18th century, copyright laws have evolved and been applied in many different ways across nearly as many legal jurisdictions. Just as varied are the ways in which companies choose to enforce perceived violations of their IP.
Games Workshop, for example, the board game company behind the wildly successful Warhammer 40,000 IP, has long disheartened its own fanbase by aggressively clamping down on fan-made content across the internet. In 2019, Disney decided to become the villain in its own real-life movie when the company refused a grieving father’s request to engrave an image of Spiderman on his deceased son’s gravestone.
But getting out from under the boot of traditional, hierarchical structures like these and empowering grassroots communities are major cornerstones of Web3’s power-to-the-people foundations. So, when NFTs started changing hands for hundreds of thousands of dollars, nobody was particularly thrilled to see the return of debates surrounding the IP rights of projects and collections, as they did with CryptoPunks, for example.
CryptoPunks, before their acquisition by Yuga Labs, allowed collectors to use their NFT as a profile pic, but that was about it. Bored Apes, on the other hand, allowed buyers to monetize their specific Ape, so long as they didn’t try to monetize the BAYC logo itself. Some interesting endeavors resulted from this, like Bored Wine Co., where you could send your Ape in to be transformed into a unique label on a vintage wine.
As people in the NFT ecosystem sought a way to both avoid messy copyright complications and legally empower their collectors, some projects began using something called a CC0 copyright license, a legal tool that some see as a solution to these problems.
If you’ve ever wondered why so many people are excited about the idea of NFTs and what they mean for the empowerment of the Web3 community, CC0 copyrights are one of the actual mechanisms driving that forward.
CC0, otherwise known as Creative Commons, simply means “no rights reserved” on intellectual property. It’s a form of copyright that allows creators to waive legal interest in their work and move it, as far as possible, into the public domain. In the case of NFTs, this is done explicitly so that collectors can build upon or rework the art in their NFT for any purpose — whether that means duplicating it, branding it, or marketing it. Projects with this license mean that you aren’t even limited to your own NFT — you could use any NFT in the collection, even for the logo of a new company, if you wanted.
This might seem counterintuitive at the outset. If IPs are so profitable, releasing these rights would be financial suicide, right? Not quite.
There are a number of benefits to using a CC0 license, the most basic of which is that it’s more likely to increase awareness of your NFT project’s brand.
NFTs that are out in the world and uninhibited by copyright are free to proliferate and spread awareness of your project, playing a significant role in appreciating that project’s value. Using a CC0 license also saves you a logistical and legal headache in dealing with IP theft, as there is technically nothing to be stolen to begin with.
More and more NFT projects are beginning to use CC0 copyright. Take Goblintown, one of 2022’s most heartwarmingly irreverent NFT projects. Because of its CC0 status, imitations of the project spread like wildfire. In just a few days, Goblintown derivatives took over OpenSea’s volume chart, accounting for an absurd 43.7 percent of total trade volume on the platform on June 2, 2022. Achieving cultural significance is the key to success in the NFT ecosystem, and one of the best ways to do that is with a CC0 license.
To see how well using a CC0 license can play out, just look at the Nouns NFT project. The collection was one of the first to experiment with Creative Commons. After voting on various proposals in the Nouns DAO regarding the use of the NFTs in the community, members approved various projects that saw them collaborating with Budweiser, putting out a documentary, creating a Nouns coffee brand, and donating money to support Ukrainian refugees. The result? The Nouns DAO Treasury is currently sitting on 26,241 ETH (over $28 million at the time of writing).
Nouns is far from the only project using this kind of license. Chain Runners, Mfers, CrypToadz, and others all incorporate CC0 into their foundations and have benefited as a result. This kind of legal solution is a pristine example of Web3 principles in action, and its embrace by the NFT community has helped create something a little more akin to the decentralized world that many hope it will someday resemble.
Ultimately, however, and like everything else in the NFT space, CC0 is not a one-size-fits-all application, and every project will have different needs. Still, it has been encouraging to see how it is being used for the projects that find it a good fit.
For anyone born in the 1980s or later, Keanu Reeves has existed in the cultural zeitgeist for their entire lives. Reeves kicked off his string of cult-classic films with 1989’s Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which preceded an entire decade’s worth of beloved cultural artifacts.
It culminated, of course, in the launch of The Matrix film franchise in 1999. In recent years, he’s been in John Wick and Cyberpunk 2077, the latter of which birthed this now iconic clip.
To call Keanu Reeves a public treasure would probably be an understatement. However, with Reeves’ latest venture, some have decided to snuff out the torch they hold in their hearts for the (impossibly) 57-year-old actor.
Despite NFTs and crypto being proven channels for fundraising efforts, large segments of the general populace remain skeptical of the technology. This point is particularly important in Reeves’ case, as his entrance into the NFT sphere was via the launch of the Futureverse Foundation and done in partnership with his longtime partner Alexandra Grant.
In close cooperation with Non-Fungible Labs and FLUF World, this charitable foundation hopes to provide opportunities for “underrepresented artists [to] exhibit their work on digital and physical platforms,” as per the press release.
Reeves himself is no stranger to philanthropy. In fact, he has built up a reputation for himself as one of the most generous people active in Hollywood, bar none. Just Google ‘Keanu Reeves philanthropy’ and you’ll find an endless list of the lavish gifts Reeves has given to co-workers, family, friends, and charities over his 30+ year career. So is this move out of character in any way, really?
Based on the entities he’s working with, probably not.
FLUF World’s involvement in this foundation is especially promising, given their previous fundraising efforts for causes such as homelessness and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Since its inception in 2021, FLUF World has raised over $2 million for causes like these, and more. The arts are slated to be their next beneficiary, as Reeves and company will work towards “creating a better world for artists” through this foundation.
Specifically, they hope to do so by creating grants aimed toward “support[ing] diverse and underrepresented artists, and nurtur[ing] their unique artistry on global platforms.” Preceding the launch of the Futureverse Foundation, Non-Fungible Labs donated a sum of 100,000 euros to Oforiatta Ayim in support of her unique curatorial concept for the Ghanaian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2022.
There’s great hope within the foundation that the work they’ll do moving forward will make waves in the art sphere – NFT or otherwise.
“Funding for the arts is a challenge for every artist and arts non-profit. Dreaming up a new model for arts philanthropy with the Non-Fungible Labs team that can have a lasting impact in both the digital and real realms has been one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on,” said Grant in the press release.
Unfortunately, despite Reeves’ purported intentions with the foundation he’s helped set up, some people online remain disappointed by the news. Others seem to have missed the point entirely, viewing Reeves’ involvement in the new foundation as “jump[ing] on the NFT bandwagon,” so to speak. They seem painfully oblivious of the charitable nature of Reeves’ entrance to the space.
Over at Forbes, Dani Di Placido wrote about “pyramid schemes” and the desire to ensure “that there’s a constant supply of fresh victims, primed to buy into the ever-expanding scam.” Yes, the great scam that is charity.
Meanwhile, some users have also pointed out that Reeves himself laughed off the concept of NFTs during an interview during Matrix: Resurrections’ press tour. So what could have possibly changed his mind on the subject? Well, to begin with, Reeves wasn’t laughing at the idea of using NFTs for charity. Rather, Alex Heath asked him about the idea of digital scarcity and digital collectibles. Reeves laughed and noted that digital items are easily reproduced.
In other words, he doesn’t think that digital collectibles made much sense. However, NFTs can be used for a lot more than just collectibles. For example, they can be used to fundraise for charity….which is exactly what Reeves is doing.
Or perhaps, as one person who responded to our initial tweet on the subject suggested, he may have finally “talk[ed] to the correct person to understand what [the community is] building together.” In any case, Reeves started working with NFTs to promote charitable contributions. So it’s rather hard to see why the world is so upset.
Following China’s outright ban on crypto trading and mining in 2021, many speculated they’d clamp down on NFTs next. They’ve already started by discouraging users from trading or speculating on NFTs, as well as imposing on them to use the Chinese Yuan — a fiat currency — when making NFT purchases. With this latest news, yet another problem has been mounted on the still-growing Chinese NFT market and community.
Due to this new ruling, public WeChat accounts centered around crypto and NFT trading, financing, and even discussion will be subject to a ban and account restrictions once discovered until the offending behaviors are rectified.
So why is this such a big deal? For the uninitiated, the internet in China is a walled garden of sorts. Among the list of websites banned in China are sites most internet users simply can’t live without. For instance, Google, Instagram, Reddit, YouTube, and Wikipedia — among scores of other sites ranging from DeviantArt (of all things) to the New York Times — are all banned in China. As for Facebook and Twitter, these sites are only accessible to tourists currently staying in Hainan. Although you can use a VPN to get around what some call the Great Firewall, typically only expats employ this practice to use the internet as they see fit. For most mainland Chinese nationals, WeChat is enough.
That’s because WeChat isn’t just a messaging app. To a large chunk of its over 1 billion active users, WeChat is the internet. Aside from its core functionality as a messaging platform, Tencent’s app is also a social media platform, digital payment platform, and a burgeoning online business platform to boot.
However, China doubling down on its stance on NFTs may prove to be an interesting story to follow for members of the NFT community in other parts of the world. Can China’s NFT community and market survive if there aren’t any profits to be made? We’ll have to wait and see how the biggest NFT players in the Asian superpower respond to this latest hurdle.
In celebration of this year’s Pride Month, the NFT community has shown up and showed out with a spectacular array of initiatives supporting queer artists and the greater LGBTQ+ community. Although the NFT space isn’t necessarily known for its diversity and inclusion, Web3 organizations have still been doing the most to promote equality without being, well, cringey.
Among the many endeavors launched this June in support of Pride exists an interesting new exhibition from prominent NFT platform SuperRare (SR). Aptly named SuperQueer, this multi-week initiative bridges both online and physical events that promote LGBTQ+ representation throughout Web3.
Kicking off the month of SuperQueer activations, SR introduced a unique new exhibition aimed at giving shine to the underrepresented trans artists in the NFT space. With SuperTrans, SR brought in prominent transgender artist Laurel Charleston to create a six-week online exhibition centered around the transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary artists making strides in Web3.
Set to run from June 3 – July 16, SuperTrans is an online exhibition hosted on SR that features transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary artists making waves in the NFT and Web3 space. Featuring 11 artists — including prominent creators like FEWOCiOUS, Klara Vollstaedt, SamJ, and more — the online exhibition showcases not only some of the best and brightest crypto-artists on the blockchain, but a variety of artistic disciplines that illustrate the diverse talents of the NFT community.
Although surely propelled by the SR team and community, SuperTrans is undeniably the triumph of Charleston, who says they immediately had a grasp on the type of exhibition they wanted to curate when offered the gig by SR. “[SuperRare] originally told me I could create any curation supporting the [LGBTQ+] community. Whether that was with LGBTQ artists or trans artists or anything. But immediately, my mind went to my trans community,” Charleston said in an interview with NFT now.
“I wanted to curate a group of artists that are diverse in identity, and diverse in the type of art that they do and the craft that they work with,” said Charleston. “We have people from every point in their NFT career. And these are people that are going to, and have been taking the world by storm.”
To further promote diversity in NFTs and exemplify the crossover between physical and digital, Charleston joined forces with NYC-based queer artists Nicole Ruggiero and Sam Clover to present a physical exhibition titled ICONS x SuperTrans. With this physical exhibition that was presented June 9-15, Charleston, Ruggiero, and Clover combined their curatorial efforts into an IRL experience for SuperRare’s pop-up gallery in Soho New York.
It goes without saying that the promotion of diversity and inclusion in crypto, NFT, and Web3 spaces is incredibly important. Yes, the NFT ecosystem is undeniably a melting pot of art, tech, and culture. But the racism, sexism, and homophobia that were present in Web2 have yet to be ousted from this growing, decentralized creative ecosystem.
Society — and especially a niche internet microcosm like the NFT space — simply won’t change overnight. This means it’s up to each member of the NFT community at large (not just those with sizeable followings) to do their part to further the discussion surrounding LGBTQ+ issues and create a safe, welcoming, and equitable space for diverse groups.
For Charleston, having larger organizations and platforms provide resources to these communities directly is a major step in uplifting underrepresented artists. “For [SuperRare] to reach out to me, a member of the trans community directly and say, ‘Hey, look, here are the tools, we’re here to support you.” That is the most important thing these platforms can be doing,” Charleston tells nft now.
It hasn’t been lost on any of the many artists involved in SuperQueer and SuperTrans that trans people have historically been removed and isolated from traditional institutions. Yet Web3 platforms like SR and initiatives like SuperTrans have the power to give back to LGBTQ+ individuals and other marginalized communities in new and innovative ways.
“Today, [transgender artists] are just beginning to get the visibility that we deserve. If it’s only the trans community that is supporting and uplifting trans people, our road to equity and equality will be so much longer,” said Charleston.
“So please enjoy SuperTrans. Check out all of these incredible artists and even get inquisitive. Click on an artist, find out who they like, find out who they follow, who they’re inspired by, and go down that rabbit hole and enjoy and explore all of their incredible works.”
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