Although nonfungible tokens (NFTs )) are most well-known in digital art form, they can also be found in other formats and can represent more than art.
In the creative industry, NFTs have been used by musicians such as Kings of Leon to release their latest album. NFTs were created for recording the highlights of major sporting events, such as the NBA. Nike, Gucci, and others sell their digital products as NFTs. There are many more applications of NFTs in real life, and one of these is digital publishing.
Many have discussed the game-changing potential of using NFTs to promote books and publish them. The Alliance of Independent Authors helps indie authors promote their books with NFTs. The NFTs can also be used to make other items such as character cards and other associated items for the fan club. Tezos Farmation, a project built on Tezos network, even uses the complete text of George Orwell’s Animal Farm book and slices it up into 10,000 pieces to use as titles for the NFTs.
NFTs are usually bound by copyrights. Tezos Farmation’s copyright was already expired. Any party can freely use the text of the book. This triggers a very interesting question: How can NFTs preserve copyrights and royalties for books with expired copyrights? The NFT application for publishing is mainly focused on books with royalties that are still within their copyright lifetime. There are many authors whose work survives well beyond their mortal lives. Can NFTs help their estates extend the life of their book and their royalties?
The journey from copyright to public domain
Copyright laws are complex and vary widely throughout the world. Although few countries offer no copyright protection in line with international conventions, most jurisdictions work on the premise that copyright is protected for the author’s life plus a minimum of 25 years after their death.
In the European Union, copyright is protected for 70 years after the death of the latest living author. It is the same in the United States, with the exception that books originally published between 1927 and 1978 are protected for 95 years after the first publication. Whatever length of copyright protection is in place, anything can be made freely available to the public domain if it takes enough time.
When celebrated literature is made freely available online, its future value is virtually negligible. There is often a community that values the work intrinsically, but it can be reduced to zero.
Estates with copyrights that are in danger of falling into the public domain will have an opportunity to create a tangible asset from the intangible goods embedded in the community.
Winnie-the Pooh is a fictional, anthropomorphic bear that was created by A. Fans all over the globe love A. Milne, and E. H. Shepard, an English illustrator. The first collection of stories about the character was created in 1926. After almost 96 years, the copyrights had expired, and the book moved into the public domain on January 1, 2022. Winnie-the Pooh will not pay the estate that holds the copyright any future value, even though the worldwide commercial value of this cartoon character will be high for a long period.
The controlling estate has the opportunity to use the works in a way that no other person is legally allowed to. This happens just before the copyright expires. The outcome could have been different if the estate had spent more time connecting with fans who are interested in NFTs, creating or collaborating on a project that resonates for them, and launching NFT collections before the expiration of the copyright period. Winne-the Pooh could have had a longer copyright life.
Extending the value of an expiring copyright
Currently, publishing houses have no incentives to collaborate with the estate of copyright holders that are about to enter the public domain because the work will soon be free. An NFT tradable could be used to provide a certificate of authenticity.
After the copyright expires, and the work is made public, the NFTs will continue to carry the royalty into the digital realm. You can generate royalties through sales on the NFT marketplace using the blockchain, or even more complicated smart contracts that are created for specific uses cases such as first editions, limited editions or signed vintage copies.
Estates with expired copyrights have credibility. This is a valuable asset in the NFT World. They have nothing to lose. They have the opportunity to take advantage of their current ownership and create a digital community.
Beloved characters can provide a foundation for NFTs. These can not only extend copyrights, but also allow for extended creativity across a variety of mediums, including literature, gaming, Metaverse and charity. There are many more to come.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Cointelegraph.com. You should do your research before making any investment or trading decision.