As the NFT industry becomes more formalized, with major artists, studios and brands involved, the space has been grappling with how best to protect intellectual property.
For example, Bored Ape Yacht Club retains a strict IP usage and has taken people to court while CryptoKitties uses the NFT License. Until recently, it seemed that NFT projects would try to follow IP precedent from Web2.0, but a different approach has started getting more adoption.
- What is CC0
- Why new collections are using it
- How different licenses might affect performance
- Examples of derivative products under CC0
What is the CC0 License?
Copyright issues are a constant source of attrition between brands, creators, and the community using the product. With NFTs in particular, several lawsuits were already filed in court to settle differences between the involved parties.
One example is “Roc-A-Fella Records Inc. v. Damon Dash”, where there is a dispute about the copyright owner of Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z’s debut album, as there was an intention to sell it as an NFT.
CC0 is the Creative Commons 0, where the “0” equals “no rights reserved” on the project’s intellectual property. It’s a type of copyright that allows creators to waive legal interest in their work and take it into the public domain almost instantly. When thinking about NFTs, the owners can take the art on their NFT and use it for any purpose — marketing, changing it, creating a brand with it, anything. As a matter of fact, this license means that you don’t even have to own an NFT from the collection—anyone can use any NFT in the collection, even as the logo of a company, if wanted.
Which collections are using CC0 and why?
One of the first projects using the CC0 license was Nouns. The idea behind the project was to build a community, and later a DAO, that would foster innovation using the Nouns characters to create derivatives (new projects based on it). They have already launched a sunglasses collection, a LilNouns NFT collection, and have other initiatives that you can follow on their proposal’s page.
Moonbirds followed a different path. It started with a “regular” license, but in August 2022, it moved to CC0.
As of Aug. 22, the top collections that are using CC0 as their distribution license model were:
- Lil Nouns
A more comprehensive list can be found here.
And why are they doing it?
The idea is to promote the project to a broader audience so they can add value to it. With more interaction opportunities through derivative collections, original art-related merchandise, and a bigger community, the interest in the collection grows, benefiting its creators and NFT holders.
So, giving away the rights over their collection actually can be beneficial for the creators and holders:
- The creators/DAO usually still receive the royalties on the secondary market
- It incentivizes the creation of derivatives, which drives more attention to the original collection
- Derivatives usually give an airdrop (or Whitelist spots) for the holders of the original collection
- The creators/DAO can fund new projects to enhance the collection’s popularity, creating a flywheel movement
Market Comparison: CC0 x Other Licenses (Trading Volume and Transactions)
The top 10 NFT Collections in Trading Volume that are non-CC0 licenses, for the last 30 days, had a total of 168 million USD, as shown in the chart below.
The trading volume of the Top 5 CC0 license collections in the last 30 days (see chart below) was USD 32 million. This represents around 27% of the Trading Volume for the Top 10 non-CC0 licenses.
We have a total of transactions in the last 30 days for these Top 10 NFT collections without the CC0 license, we have a total of 89,177 transactions.
Similarly, when we look at the Top CC0 Collections (chart below), we have a total of 7140 transactions, 8% in comparison.
The Top CC0 License Collections already had almost 30% of the Top 10 non-CC0 Trading Volume in the past 30 days, even with 8% of the number of transactions. These numbers will increase, as more collections are switching for this licensing model.
This is not a trend that will fade away, especially with a huge success case as the Noun Collection. As Moonbirds also announced their plans to move to a DAO to oversee and incentivize their logo/brand use, this process of releasing the copyrights on the collection and to share the direction of it with the NFT holders (the DAO) is one interesting development for investors: Own a piece of the brand by owning a piece of their collection.
Examples of derivative products under CC0
And they are available for trading, bringing more visibility to the original artwork.
After their CC0 announcement, there was also an explosion of derivatives of Moonbirds. One example is Mournbirds, where the creator mentioned explicitly that the new collection was made possible because of the license.
This is not a trend that will fade away, especially with a huge success case as the Noun Collection. As Moonbirds also announced their plans to move to a DAO to oversee and incentivize their logo/brand use, this process of releasing the copyrights on the collection and sharing its direction with the NFT holders (the DAO) is one interesting development for investors: Own a piece of the brand by owning a piece of their collection.