blockchain, cryptocurrency, network

The realm of digital world is fascinated with new developments like cryptocurrency and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFT’S). NFT is stored on a digitally accessible ledger called a blockchain. This ledger can be assessed by the public anytime to verify the ownership and authenticity. This allows an NFT to be unique and interchangeable, keeping true to its namesake. The implications of Intellectual Property laws arose when NFT’s scope was broadened to represent digital arts, photos, videos, audios etc. This hugely impacts the copyright of art works or any IP digital creations across the globe.

For this reason, NFT’s are currently being circulated in the market for huge monetary values. Mike Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, sold the first ever NFT artwork titled ‘The First 500 days’ for $69,346,250. The new technology coupled with the high rate of monetary value is creating a ripple in the industry. This article will focus on the intellectual property law implications specifically related to the claims of authenticity and ownerships surrounding the NFT’s.

Indian Music Industry and NFT

Indian music Industry is quickly adopting and experimenting with NFT’s. A Tamil musician Kaber Vasuki has sold a phone demo of his song ‘Vasanam’ as a non-fungible token (NFT) valued at nearly Rs 1.5 crore at the time of sale. This is an unprecedented sale in the music Industry and opens up several possibilities to the artists. The volume of pirated music has always been a great challenge faced by several music labels in India. The introduction of NFT’s alongside copyright laws opens up a possibility for the music industry to limit music theft online while nurturing bona fide growth of talent. The copyright law covers transactions like NFT’s in India, thereby providing it further credibility.  

IP Infringement and NFT

The NFT alone does not automatically authenticate a copyright. For instance, DC and Marvel companies are issuing notice against comic artists for creating NFT of the characters IP owned by them. The NFT’s automatically does not confer authenticity just yet. It could contain IP of another owner thereby violating the local IP laws. The accessibility and convenience of creation can possibly give rise to several IP thefts. However, a combination of IP registrations and NFT can create a strong intellectual property foundation against infringements in this digital era.  

Can NFT be used to counter counterfeits by IP owners?

The owner of an NFT retains the ownership of the created token alongside its right to reproduce, sell, store, issue copies etc. in general subject to contrary assignment. The purchaser however only retains the right to enjoy it and does not have a right to re-sell. It is similar to purchasing a song online. The purchase of the songs does not confer any copyright to the purchaser. Currently, the digital piracy is one of the forefront battles faced by the IP owners amounting to huge revenue loses. The concept of NFT if advanced can allow the IP owner alongside government recognised IP registrations to effectively tackle counterfeits by online tracking.

In conclusion, with such a revolution comes a lot of legal uncertainties. Every NFT transaction involving licensing or assignment, will be subject to the local rules and regulations. They have to be harmoniously construed to make it a credible investment.

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