Have you heard about the crypto “Dune” fiasco? An investment group spent $3 million at auction on a non-fungible token (NFT) copy of a rare book involving a movie adaptation of the novel. Somehow, they believed that owning an NFT of the book gave them the copyright of the book itself.
How any investment company could make that big of a mistake is astounding because it shows a basic lack of understanding of the bundles of rights owned by every creator (and, perhaps, a big misunderstanding of NFTs).
So, what rights do creators have?
Copyrights protect creators from having their work stolen out from under them. They do so by giving creators the following:
- The right to reproduce their works. Unauthorized duplications – in tangible form or digital – are a major source of copyright litigation issues.
- The right to create derivative works. The creator can transform one work into another, such as when a television show creates several spin-offs or books are translated into different languages.
- The right to distribute the work as they see fit. The creator of a piece can give it away, lend it out, lease it, sell it or rent it. For example, an artist can donate a piece of art to a museum outright or merely “put it on loan.”
- The right to publicly perform their work. A playwright, for example, can allow their play to be performed – but that doesn’t mean it becomes public domain.
- The right to publicly display their work. This is similar to the right to perform but pertains to visual creations. For example, an artist can display their work online for others to view without consenting to the image being stolen and used on other websites.
- The right to perform by means of digital audio transmission (for sound recordings). For example, a sound recording artist can license their ringtones to companies to sell or their music to different artists to use.
In today’s world, few companies can afford not to understand how copyright protections work. Make sure that you have experienced legal guidance as your company navigates any tricky waters.