Yuga Labs, the development team behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection, has acquired the intellectual rights to rival collections Meebits and CryptoPunks. The deal opens new doors for the owners of those NFTs that remained closed by the original creators.
The owners of CryptoPunk’s and Meebit’s NFTs are granted additional usage rights by the new brand owner Yuga Labs. As part of the acquisition, the owners of these NFTs are now entitled to use their CryptoPunk commercially. This includes not only reproducing the motif on any media (t-shirts, stickers, etc.), but also renting out the character or licensing it for artists, publications or multimedia content. Surprisingly, this was not the case under the licensing agreement of the actual development team, Larva Labs.
The two flagship projects of the segment
Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are the two most valuable NFT collections by market capitalization and have reached a combined value of at least USD 3 billion. Despite the similar prices of the two largest NFT avatar projects, the development teams have taken different approaches. Larva Labs’ 2017 collection, CryptoPunks, established itself early on as the poster child for the NFT space, but its creators largely kept a low profile during the industry’s rapid growth.
Meanwhile, the Bored Ape Yacht Club of Yuga acted like a membership club with considerable benefits and growing prestige. The owners of Bored Apes and its sister projects were allowed to use their motifs for commercial purposes at the very beginning, which favored the formation of an active and noisy community. When the purchase price of a Bored Apes overtook that of a CryptoPunk in December 2021, it possibly signaled a change in direction for the industry as a whole.
Originator remains Larva Labs
The creative technologist duo Matt and John have been experimenting with almost every kind of software for a long time. Examples include large-scale web infrastructures, software for genomic analysis, and the Google app Androidify, which eventually became the global face of the Android brand. They created 10’000 CryptoPunks in 2017, when there was no defined NFT standard, as well as an associated marketplace to trade them. The 20’000 3D Meebits then followed some time later with a free NFT for every CryptoPunk owner.
When Larva Labs discussed potential collaborations with Yuga Labs, they said they quickly realized that it would be best for the CryptoPunks and Meebits collection if Yuga took over operations and led them into this new, much larger world. With this in mind, the development team announced that Yuga Labs has acquired the intellectual property of CryptoPunks and Meebits, as well as the majority of both NFTs from the developers.
Some big news to share today: Yuga has acquired the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections from @LarvaLabs, and the first thing we’re doing is giving full commercial rights to the NFT holders. Just like we did for BAYC and MAYC owners. pic.twitter.com/lAIKKvoEDj
— Yuga Labs (@yugalabs) March 11, 2022
The industrial property of CryptoPunks and Meebits.
The CryptoPunks and Meebits NFTs are owned by members of the community, but the intellectual property rights to the characters have long and controversially been owned by the creators. In their announcement, Yuga Labs signaled that they will transfer full commercial rights of the NFTs to the individual owners. To be sure, this does not transfer the entire copyright. However, Yuga is taking this a step further than Larva Labs and fulfilling a wish that the CryptoPunks community has been expressing for some time.
Intellectual property rights are usually divided into two main areas. One is copyright and related rights, while industrial property is more about trademark and competition protection. The rights of authors of literary and artistic works are protected by copyright law for a period of at least 50 years after the death of the creator. The main social purpose of copyright and related rights protection is to encourage and reward creative work.
CC0 – No rights reserved
Creative Commons Zero (CC0) allows artists and other owners of content protected by copyright or database right to waive those rights to their work, making it as fully available to the public as possible. Other works can reuse this freely for any purpose without restrictions imposed by copyright or database right. Unlike CC licenses, which allow creators to choose from a range of rights – while retaining their copyright – CC0 allows a completely different choice. With this licensing, they waive copyright and database protection, as well as the exclusive rights that are automatically granted to creators.
The person who has associated a work (the underlying image of an NFT) with this license has dedicated it to the public domain by waiving all of his or her rights in the work under copyright law worldwide; including all related and neighboring rights to the extent permitted by law. All may reproduce, modify, distribute and perform the Work, including for commercial purposes, without asking permission. The acquisition of the intellectual rights to the Punks collection thus started a new wave in the NFT industry that wants to fully own their profile images and identities.
42/ WINNER: Commercial rights and CC0 projects
It is game over for how PFP projects should be structured rights-wise
The only two choices are commercial rights or CC0 projects
Nothing else is competitive anymore – Punks were the problem with this thesis & now it is over
— 6529 (@punk6529) March 12, 2022