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Are lapsed copyrights the upcoming NFTs treasure trove?

Most people associate NFTs with digital art, but in the future, nonfungible token technology may be used to maintain, renew, and repurpose copyrights that are about to expire.

Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) exist in many other forms and represent much more than just art, despite the fact that digital art is the most prevalent form in which people are familiar with them.

Musicians like Kings of Leon have employed NFTs in the creative sector to release their most recent album. NFTs are produced in the sports industry to capture the best moments from important competitions like the NBA. Nike, Gucci, and many other brands in the consumer goods sector offer their digitally branded goods as NFTs. There are still many more real-world uses for NFTs that need to be investigated, and the digital publishing sector is one of them.

Many people have previously talked at length about how publishing and promoting books using NFTs might completely alter the game. For instance, the Alliance of Independent Authors supports independent authors by using NFTs to advertise their most recent novels. Character cards and other related products for the fans club are also turned into NFTs. The whole text of George Orwell’s Animal Farm is even used by Tezos Farmation, a project established on the Tezos network, and is divided into 10,000 sections to serve as the titles for the NFTs.

NFTs made from published books are typically subject to copyright restrictions. The copyright had already expired in the instance of Tezos Farmation, though. Anybody may use the book’s text without charge. This raises an extremely intriguing query: How might NFTs protect royalties and copyrights for works with lapsed copyrights?

The majority of NFT applications in the publishing sector to far have been concentrated on books with active royalties and copyright protection. However, some authors’ works continue to be read long after they have passed away and their copyrights have expired. Can NFTs give these authors’ estates a way to prolong the life of the book and its royalties?

copyright to public domain transition

Worldwide, there are many complex and varying copyright laws. Few nations, in accordance with international agreements, provide no copyright protection; however, the majority of states operate under the assumption that copyright is secured for the author’s lifetime and for at least 25 years following their passing.

The protection of copyright in the European Union continues for 70 years after the passing of the last surviving author. The same applies in the US, with the difference that books first published between 1927 and 1978 are shielded for 95 years following their initial release. Whatever is protected by copyrights will eventually become free in the public domain, regardless of how long they are in place.

The value of well-known literature is practically eliminated when it is placed in the public domain. However, there frequently is a separated community that has an innate appreciation for the work.

Estates with copyrights that are about to enter the public domain have a special chance to turn the intangible goodwill ingrained in the disconnected community into a physical asset in the form of NFTs.

Winnie-the-Pooh, a fictitious anthropomorphic teddy bear developed by English author A. A. Milne and English illustrator E. H. Shepard, is a great example. Winnie-the-Pooh has a large following worldwide. In 1926, the first book of the character’s stories was published. The book entered the public domain on January 1, 2022, after the copyrights had been out of effect for about 96 years. Even though Winnie-the-Pooh is such a well-known cartoon figure around the world, the estate holding the copyright won’t gain any future value from him.

The controlling estate has a window of opportunity just before the copyright expiration during which no one else is legally permitted to do anything with the works. The result would have been very different if the estate had invested time engaging fans who were interested in NFTs, creating or working with a project that spoke to them, and launching the NFT collection before the copyright period was out. Winne-the-copyright Pooh’s lifespan might have been much longer.

the extension of an expiring copyright’s value

Because the work will soon be available for free, publishing houses are currently not motivated to deal with the estates of copyright holders whose works are set to enter the public domain. Such partnerships might be encouraged by a certificate of authenticity represented by a tradable NFT.

The NFTs will carry the royalty into the digital realm once the copyright expires and the work enters the public domain. Sales in the blockchain’s NFT marketplace or even more complicated smart contracts designed for certain first edition, limited edition, or signed antique copy use cases can produce royalties.
The estates with expiring copyrights have nothing to lose and have reputation, which is a valuable asset in the NFT market. They are positioned to profit from their present ownership and future potential as a digital community.

Favorite characters and the settings they live in can serve as a strong foundation for NFTs that can extend copyrights as well as extended creativity in a variety of fields, including literature, gaming, the Metaverse, charity, education, and many more.

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This article is just for educational purposes.

Make your own exploration before making any form of investment, as always.

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