NFTs Applicable To Expiring Copyrights?

Although Non-fungible Tokens are most commonly associated with digital arts, they exist in more forms than just digital arts.  NFTs is used by a lot of musicians such as Kings of Leon in the release of his latest album.  In the sports industry, NFTs involve recording the highlights of major sporting events. The fashion industry is not left out. Here, fashion companies like Nike and Gucci are selling their digital branded products. They do this in a novel form of NFTs known as  NFTs Fashion or Non-fungible wears.

One thing is certain; there are still a lot of possibilities to explore in the NFTs world. There are a lot of real-world applications of NFTs we are yet to explore and one of them is the digital publishing industry.

NFTs In The Publishing Industry

The game-changing implications of publishing and promoting books with NFTs is the topic of discussion by many. For example, the Alliance of Independent Authors is helping indie authors to promote their latest books using NFTs. Other associated items for the fans club such as character cards are also made into NFTs. Tezos Farmation, a project built on Tezos network, even uses the complete text of George Orwell’s Animal Farm book and slices it up into 10,000 pieces to use as titles for the NFTs.

NFTs that stem from existing books are normally bound to copyrights. However, in the case of Tezos Farmation, the copyright had already expired. Any party can use text from the book for free. This triggers a very interesting question: How can NFTs preserve copyrights and royalties for books with expired copyrights?

The NFT application in the publishing industry is so far mostly focused on books that still have royalties and are within their copyright lifespan. But, there are authors whose work lives on long past both their mortal existence and that of their copyrights; can NFTs provide their estates a means to extend the life of the book and its royalties?

The Journey Of NFTs To The Public Domain

Copyright laws are complex and vary greatly around the world. It is true that many countries do not offer copyright protection in line with international conventions. However, most jurisdictions work on the basis that copyright will protect the property of the author for life and 25 years after their death.

In the European Union, copyright protects for 70 years after the death of the latest living author. It is the same in the United States, except for books originally published between 1927 and 1978. No matter how long you protect the copyrights – if given enough time – it will end up free in the public domain.

When amazing literature enters the public domain, the future value of the work will reduce to zero. However, there often remains a disconnected community that intrinsically values the work.

Preserving the Value Of An Expiring Copyright

Currently, publishing houses have no desire to collaborate with the estate of copyright holders. Especially holders that are about to enter the public domain because the work will soon be free. A certificate of authenticity represented by a tradable NFT might provide an incentive for such collaborations.

After the copyright expires and the work goes into the public domain, the NFTs will carry the royalty further into the digital world. One can generate royalties through sales in the NFT marketplace on the blockchain. Other ways are through even more complex smart contracts for specific use cases for first edition, limited edition or signed vintage copies.

The estates holding expiring copyrights have credibility, which is a precious asset in the NFT world. They have nothing to lose. They are in the box seat to capitalize on their current ownership and potential for a digital community.

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