You have probably heard of Bored Ape Yacht Club, a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) created by Yuga Labs. These NFTs are owned by A-list celebrities and exploded in popularity in 2021. Currently, Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs can sell for millions of dollars and are arguably one of the most popular and successful NFT collections in existence. As of January 4, 2022, it is estimated that sales of BAYC NFTs have surpassed one billion dollars. Ryder Ripps, a self-proclaimed “conceptual artist,” created his own NFT collection called the Ryder Ripps Bored Ape Yacht Club (RR/BAYC) in May 2022 using the same online digital images as the BAYC NFT collection, by generating new NFTs using the URLs embedded in the Bored Ape Yacht Club smart contracts. In July 2022, Yuga Labs, Inc. filed a lawsuit in California claiming Ryder Ripps et al. has misused trademarks owned and used by Yuga Labs since April 2021 (the BAYC Marks).
The non-fungible token (NFT) market has grown dramatically over the past 24 months. NFTs first garnered widespread attention when the artist Beeple sold digital artwork at Christie’s in March 2021 for $69 million. According to the DappRadar Industry Report, spending on NFTs exceeded $25 billion in 2021, but the market has been significantly lower this year and according to the The Wall Street Journal, “flatlined” last month.
We’ve written extensively on the still somewhat recent arrival of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as both a potential revenue stream, caveat-filled investment destination and pop culture marker of the moment. Back in 2018, we wrote about the Los Angeles Dodgers giving away digital bobbleheads to fans, who could redeem a private hidden key to send the bobblehead to a personal cryptocurrency wallet or sell the unique serialized bobblehead to another fan. Later, we wrote about NFTs in the art world, from a burned Banksy to the record-setting sale of Beeple’s Everydays – The First 5000 Days, which sold for $69.3 million (including fees). Increasingly, the practical uses of NFTs are being examined in places beyond entertainment and IP portfolios, including the real estate market. Recently, Spanish airline Air Europa even sold the first NFT plane ticket, called a “NFTicket,” for just over $1 million.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are changing how we think about asset ownership in the real world and in the digital world. NFTs—unique digital tokens stored on a blockchain ledger that represent ownership of an asset, either real or virtual—have gained significant popularity in realms such as art, gaming and entertainment, as a means to establish authenticity and transfer various rights. As a result, entrepreneurs are searching for new industries to disrupt utilizing the advantages offered by NFTs and blockchain more generally. The traditional real estate industry, together with virtual land in the evolving Metaverse, has been on the radar of many.
Joel Simon: Our discussion today is part of a series on non-fungible tokens, known as NFTs. We will take a look at some specific issues that are somewhat unique to NFTs, and try to give you, our listeners, some interesting things to watch out for as you wade into this relatively new space. Carolyn, with the large sums of money involved in many NFT transactions, due diligence and proper transaction execution must be critical factors, yet I’ve heard about buyers getting tripped up on things that, once you hear about them, seem obvious. Can you shed some light on this for us?
Here at Internet & Social Media Law, we examine new developments and challenges that impact the digital and social media landscape. Over on our Policyholder Pulse insurance law blog, we provide insight on non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) and the importance of knowing the available insurance options when dealing with them. As NFTs become more common, whether it’s sports tickets and memorabilia or art work, it’s imperative to know how to protect these digital assets. We discuss further in “Covering the Highlight Reel: The Need for Insurance Options to Protect NFT Owners.”
As innovative applications with integrated smart contract functionality emerge from blockchain technology platforms, there is an expanding list of digital currencies, tokens and peer-to-peer financial products and services. Abbreviations abound. There are non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which, unlike fungible cryptocurrencies, are “one-of-a-kind’ digital assets stored on a blockchain platform, and can include images, videos, recordings, collectibles and tangible items in the physical world. There is decentralized finance (DeFi), the peer-to-peer transaction infrastructure for tokens and other software applications and contracts designed to replace traditional banking products and services and streamline transactions. Decentralized applications (dApps) are a relatively new technology similar to traditional web applications from a user perspective, but which run on distributed blockchain platforms, such as Ethereum, rather than on a single computer—dApps are typically open source, allowing software developers to improve features and functions quickly, and free from control by any single authority. Smart contract protocols permit dApps to access the blockchain platform and integrate with cryptocurrencies, NFTs and DeFi projects.
Joel Simon: Our discussion today is going to touch on a number of things that are a mystery to a lot of people. We’ll focus on non-fungible tokens, known as NFTs, and in the process, can’t help but mention blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Cydney, I read recently that the technology for an NFT has existed since 2010. They went mainstream in 2017, and this year, NFTs have already generated more than $2 billion in sales. So this is definitely a topic that people should get up to speed on. Let’s start with the most basic question: What is an NFT?
Over the past few months, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have exploded in popularity in the worlds of visual arts, sports memorabilia, bobbleheads, and now, music. We have recently seen multiple high-profile NFT releases from artists such as the Weeknd, the White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, and Steve Aoki, kickstarting a trend as musicians reeling from over a year without touring seek new ways to engage with fans.