Is the next goldmine of royalties for NFTs expiring?

Although immutable tokens (NFTs) are most commonly known in the form of digital art, they exist in many other forms and represent much more than art.

In the creative industry, NFTs have been used by musicians like Kings of Leon to release their latest albums. In the sports industry, NFTs are created to record key moments of major sporting events like the NBA. In the consumer goods industry, Nike, Gucci and others sell their digitally branded products in the form of NFTs. Many more real-world applications of NFTs are still waiting to be discovered, and one of them is the digital publishing industry.

The game-changing implications of publishing and promoting books with NFTs have been extensively discussed by many. For example, the Independent Writers Guild helps freelancers promote their latest books using NFTs. Other associated items for the fan club, such as character cards, are also converted into NFTs. Tezos Farmation, a project built on the Tezos network, even uses the full text of George Orwell’s Animal Farm book and divides it into 10,000 parts to use as titles for NFTs.

NFTs created from existing books are normally copyrighted. But in the case of Tezos Farmation, the copyright had already expired. The text in the book can be used free of charge by any party. This triggers a very interesting question – how can NFTs protect the copyrights and copyrights of books whose copyrights have expired?

The practice of NFT in the publishing industry has so far mostly focused on books that are copyrighted and within their copyright lifetime. But there are writers whose works live far beyond both their mortal existence and their copyright; Can NFTs provide their property with a means to extend the life and copyrights of the book?

Journey from copyright to public domain

Copyright laws are complex and vary widely around the world. Although a few countries do not offer copyright protection in accordance with international conventions, most jurisdictions operate on the assumption that copyright is protected for at least 25 years after the author’s life and death.

In the European Union, copyright is protected for 70 years after the death of the last living author. The same is true in the United States, except that books originally published between 1927 and 1978 were protected.

For 95 years after the first broadcast. No matter how long copyrights are protected, given enough time, anything in the public domain will remain free.

When famous literature enters the public domain, the future value of the work is essentially reduced to zero. However, a disconnected community often remains that values ​​work at its core.

Copyrighted properties about to fall into the public domain have a unique opportunity to create a tangible asset in the form of NFTs from intangible goodwill embedded in the unconnected community.

A good example is Winnie-the-Pooh, a fictional anthropomorphic teddy bear created by British writer AA Milne and British illustrator EH Shepard, loved by fans all over the world. The first collection of stories about the character was created in 1926. Almost 96 years later, the copyrights expired and the book went into the public domain on January 1, 2022. The copyrighted property will receive no future value from Winnie-the. -Pooh, even if the commercial value of such a world-famous cartoon character will remain high for a long time.

Just before the copyright expires, the controlling property has a window of opportunity where no one else is legally entitled to do anything with the works. If the property had taken the time to gather fans interested in NFTs, create or collaborate with a project that resonates with them, and launch the NFT collection before the copyright period expires, the outcome would have been very different. There could have been a much longer copyright life for Winne-the-Pooh.

Related: Experts explain how music NFTs will improve the connection between creators and fans

Extending the value of an expired copyright

Currently, publishers have no incentive to cooperate with the property of copyright holders that is about to enter the public domain, as the work will soon be free. A certificate of authenticity represented by a tradable NFT can provide an incentive for such collaborations.

After copyright expires and the work becomes public domain, NFTs will move copyright into the digital world. Copyrights can be created through sales in the NFT marketplace on the blockchain, or through more complex smart contracts created for specific use cases for first edition, limited edition or signed old copies.

Properties with expired copyrights have credibility, a valuable asset in the NFT world, and they have nothing to lose. They are in the box seat to tap into their existing ownership and the potential for a digital community.

Beloved characters and the worlds they inhabit can be a solid foundation for NFTs that can not only expand their copyright, but also expand creativity, such as literature, gaming, Metaverse, philanthropy, education, and many more media.

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