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NFTs And Copyright: What You See Is Not What You Get

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Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) continue to trend as creators keep making them and collectors keep taking them. But, as deep as we are into the hype cycle, it continues to amaze that many sellers and even more buyers are wholly unaware of what an NFT transaction actually entails.

Technically — and legally — speaking, someone who buys an NFT is obtaining ownership of a particular alphanumeric code that lives on the blockchain, tucked away in a virtual wallet. In theory, this code includes a link to, or some sort of association with, a work of visual art or a song or a hamburger or just about anything else that somebody has thought to tokenize. Now, this code is unique — the “nonfungible” in the NFT initialism — and nobody but the buyer will own this code in this context after purchase. And that ownership will be indelibly inscribed on the blockchain to create a record of the transaction. But the art associated with the NFT is not itself stored on the blockchain or in any way secured, so the NFT is more like a digital certificate of authenticity that proves that one owns a…

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