Amid growing confusion over what type of intellectual property (IP) rights to grant NFT holders, venture capital (VC) firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), with help from famously anonymous NFT collector/investor Punk6529, released a series of NFT licenses. The “Can’t Be Evil” NFT licenses are expected to standardize options regarding licenses of NFT projects.
According to the firm, the Can’t Be Evil NFT licenses, which are free, would allow NFT projects to decide how NFT holders can tap into and commercialize IP.
The Can’t Be Evil NFT Licenses in a Glance
Regarding NFT projects, there are different levels of “rights” granted to NFT holders. Some NFT projects don’t give their holders IP rights, while some grant them to a certain degree.
Many popular NFT projects give holders the right to use the images they own to create and sell derivatives. An example is the notoriously famous Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection. Still, many questions prevail, mainly if such IP licenses are legally durable or if the project creators simply duped buyers. Hence, a16z expressed its desire to help by announcing the release of the Can’t Be Evil NFT licenses.
As mentioned earlier, the licensing terms are available for project creators to use freely. The Can’t Be Evil NFT licenses provide various approaches for NFT projects, including terms for limited personal use and broader permissions allowing anyone, even those who don’t own NFTs, to use NFT artworks for any purpose they deem fit.
It’s worth noting that the Can’t Be Evil NFT licenses are not new concepts. These licenses are based on the rights offered by Creative Commons. Nevertheless, according to a blog post written by a16z’s general counsel Miles Jennings and general partner Chris Dixon, the licenses are fine-tuned specifically for decentralized Web3 projects for a three-fold purpose. These are: to remove ambiguity, minimize confusion regarding IP rights, and hopefully avoid legal troubles in the future.
“There’s currently significant ambiguity and legal risk across the NFT ecosystem,” Jennings, who is also a16z’s head of decentralization, posted on Twitter. “A lack of standardization makes it difficult for NFT purchasers to know what rights they’re getting, and creating customized licenses is expensive. All of this acts as a drag on the industry.”
A16z has dipped its fingers in various Web3 offerings. It has invested in some of the biggest NFT creators, such as BAYC’s Yuga Labs, Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends project, and Kevin Rose’s Proof (the brains behind the Moonbirds NFT collection). The firm also invested in OpenSea, the world’s leading NFT marketplace.
A giant VC firm like a16z championing NFT licensing terms may not sit well with others. However, as already mentioned, a16z obtained Punk6529’s help shaping the licenses. The firm has also worked with law firms like Latham & Watkins LLP and DLA Piper, as well as some indeterminate portfolio companies. Hence, the firm knows its way around legalities.
Moreover, the terms of the Can’t Be Evil licenses were released for free through an open-source Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. It means they can be used freely, remixed, and branches as Web3 creators deem fit.
Now, if you’re wondering where the Can’t Be Evil NFT licenses’ branding came from, it was inspired by Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” mantra. However, a16z modified it to indicate the apparent immutableness of blockchain networks. Per a16z, the Can’t Be Evil NFT licenses are irrevocable, meaning NFT buyers can rest assured that the terms will remain in effect after a license is deployed.
“By making the licenses easy (and free) to incorporate, we hope to democratize access to high-quality licenses and encourage standardization across the Web3 industry,” a16z wrote in the blog. “Greater adoption could lead to incredible benefits for creators, owners, and the NFT ecosystem as a whole.”
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