3 Ways Authors Can Use CC0 NFTs

Tuesday: This Bridgerton fan-fiction/IP stuff is crazy. Do you think web3 could change things?

Wednesday: A huge crypto-centric venture capital fund just released a report on CC0-based NFTs (no copyrights reserved)

Thursday: One of the hottest “traditional” NFT projects out there just announced that they were converting to the CC0 model.

…..

Welcome to CC0 summer everyone! Now that we are here, the first step is to figure out what this means.

(Note – as always, this is new and we are figuring this out at the same time. None of this is legal or financial advice. We are not lawyers nor IP experts, so please do your research!)

What is CC0?

This is explained in much more detail in other places on the internet – notably this a16z report from earlier this week.

But, instead of releasing creative work with “All Rights Reserved” like we normally expect to see, CC0 work is released with “No Rights Reserved.” Notably, this means that creators waive their COPYRIGHT, but NOT the TRADEMARK or PATENTS.  

This means that anyone – NFT holder or not – is immediately allowed to build on top of the original creative work. For visual art NFTs, that can mean that a project’s distinctive style can be used for new NFT collections or other types of products. 

Creators of the NFT proactively choose this legal framework (it is a strategic choice) because they believe that more people using their art or their story can build brand awareness and add value to the original creation.  

This means that NFT creators are skipping the “95 years after your death” IP protection and going straight to converting their work into the creative commons domain.

At a high level, this is kind of weird and counter-intuitive to the “make sure creators get paid” ethos of web3, but it’s a choice that teams are making currently.  

So let’s see how authors can take advantage of this new experiment.

(Note – these are NOT all recommended and benefits can change based on each author’s situation)

1) Release a Story NFT as CC0

We are starting with the BOLDEST choice.  

This is for authors with a full novel with immersive world-building or a children’s story with lots of fun characters.  

By releasing as CC0, you would be allowing anyone (including non-NFT holders) to create fan-fiction based on the world you have created.  

If Julia Quinn, the original Bridgerton author had done this, there wouldn’t be any lawsuit between Netflix and the Musical right now.

On the flip side, if she had done this, she wouldn’t have gotten all of the licensing revenue that Netflix paid her for the film rights. She would be hoping that fans of the show went out and bought the books as well.  

But, what if instead of looking at the traditional successes like Bridgerton, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, etc., we imagined the stories that NEVER made it?

The stories that were pretty similar in quality or style to those famous works, but never got on a Bestseller List or were optioned for a show. What if, by releasing the IP to the world, they were able to foster a community of fan fiction and branding that propelled them into that top tier?  

It is a gamble – not necessarily one we endorse – but a gamble that could pay off big for a risky author.

(Side note: Lisa doesn’t see this is a great model for stories, but could be a source of writing prompts, novel ideas, movie ideas, outlines, etc.)

2) Release a Story NFT with “Licensed Commerical Rights”

Technically, this isn’t CC0, but this might be more palatable to authors. This is the model that Bored Ape Yacht Club (another leading NFT project) used to strong success.  

In this example, if you own a particular NFT, you can commercialize that particular NFT.

E.g., if JK Rowling originally sold NFTs for lesser-known characters from Hogwarts, people could create their own back stories and fan fiction around the characters they own.  

Or if Pokemon sold NFTs for each animal, the owners could monetize any that they owned. 

This is more similar to a traditional licensing deal, and the success of the monetization could drive interest in the projects, raising the value of any resales (a portion of which goes back to the original creator).

3) Writing a story using CC0 NFT characters

We THINK this should work (but each contract is different, so please verify) and could be a really interesting way to start exploring the space.

Here, a writer could find an already launched CC0 NFT project that they like – i.e., GoblinTown, Nouns, or Tiny Dinos and create a story around it.

Whether it was a children’s book or a full-fledged novel, the art would be available to use and has an existing community that would likely support the book. Piggy-backing on the existing community could help a story stand-out in this competitive industry.

Overall

The NFT space is a playground of experimentation, and CC0 models are the latest iteration of that.  

Any author with existing IP will need to think long and hard about the tradeoffs of giving up IP rights, but it COULD be worth the gamble.  

Writing on top of a CC0 project could be a fun, interesting way to explore the space and stand out from the crowd.

Either way, enjoy your #CC0summer!!!

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