Although Non-Foldable Symbols (NFTs) are most common in the form of digital art, they exist in many other forms and represent much more than just art.
In the creative industry, musicians have used NFTs like Kings of Leon to release their latest albums. In the sports industry, NFTs are created to record sporting highlights such as the NBA. In the consumer products industry, Nike, Gucci, and many others sell their branded digital products in the form of NFTs. There are still a lot of real-world applications of NFTs that remain to be explored and one of them is the digital publishing industry.
Many have already discussed the game-changing implications of publishing and promoting books using NFT technologies on a large scale. For example, the Freelance Authors Alliance helps freelance authors promote their latest books using NFTs. Other items associated with the fan club such as character cards are also made into NFTs. Tezos Farmation, a project created on the Tezos Network, even uses the full text of George Orwell’s book Animal Farm and breaks it down into 10,000 pieces to use as titles for NFTs.
NFTs created from existing books are usually copyright related. However, in the case of Tezos Farmation, the copyright has already expired. Any party can use the text of the book for free. This raises an interesting question: How can NFTs maintain copyright and royalties for books that have expired?
The NFT application in the publishing industry so far has mostly focused on books that still have ownership rights and are within their copyright life. But, there are authors whose work lives in the long past both their mortal existence and the existence of their copyrights; Could NFTs provide its holdings with a way to extend the life and revenue of a book?
The journey from copyright to the public domain
Copyright laws are complex and vary widely around the world. Although a few countries do not provide any copyright protection in line with international conventions, most jurisdictions operate on the basis that copyright is protected for the life of the author as well as at least 25 years after his death.
In the European Union, copyright is protected for 70 years after the death of the most recent surviving author. It is the same in the United States, except that books originally published between 1927 and 1978 are protected for 95 years after they were first published. No matter how long the copyright protection lasts, given enough time, anything for free will end up in the public domain.
When famous literature enters the public domain, the future value of the work is essentially reduced to zero. However, there is often still a disconnected community that values the work intrinsically.
Copyright properties that are about to fall into the public domain have a unique opportunity to create a tangible asset in the form of NFTs of intangible goodwill embedded in the separate community.
A good example is Winnie-the-Pooh, a fictional anthropomorphic teddy bear created by English author A. The first set of stories about the character was created in 1926. After nearly 96 years, the copyrights expired, and the book went into the public domain on January 1, 2022. The copyrighted estate will receive no future value from Winnie-the- Pooh, although the commercial value of a world-famous cartoon character will remain high for a long time.
Just before the copyright expires, the controlling estate has a chance where no one else has the right to do anything with the business. If the property had spent the time connecting fans interested in NFTs, building or collaborating with a project that resonated with them, and launching the NFT collection before the copyright period expired, the outcome would have been very different. There could have been a much longer copyright life for Winne-the-Pooh.
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Extend the value of an expired copyright
Currently, publishers have no incentives to cooperate with the ownership of copyright holders who are about to enter the public domain because the work will soon be free. The Certificate of Authenticity represented by the negotiable NFT may provide an incentive for such cooperation.
After the copyright expires and the work has moved into the public domain, NFTs will transfer the property rights to the digital world. Royalties can be generated through sales in the NFT marketplace on the blockchain or through more complex smart contracts created for specific use cases of first release, limited release, or signed older versions.
Real estate with expired copyrights has credibility, a valuable asset in the NFT world, and they have nothing to lose. They are in the box seat to take advantage of t