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The NFT market must respect the copyright rules

NFTs burst onto the art market and led to unprecedented speculation in recent months. A large number of players all over the world launched, often hastily, various initiatives to sell works, from the primary or secondary market, linked to digital tokens registered in the blockchain.

NFTs offer a relevant response to the issue of sales of digital art works by enabling artists to create unique original digital artworks, but other uses beyond the initial purpose quickly appeared. More specifically,non-fungible tokens are increasingly being used to commercialize digital versions of works physically affixed by the artist onto a painting or a sculpture, often without the involvement of the artist or the right holders. Further, certain digital art works linked to an NFT reproduce works of other artists  without the consent of these artists or their right holders (e.g.heirs, foundations…).

The industry must bear in mind the applicable basic legal rules to avoid being held liable.

It should be clearly understood that, pursuant to the relevant internationally recognized copyright laws, any public reproduction or distribution of a work of art, in whole or in part, requires the consent of the artist or the right holders. Without such consent, it will legally constitute piracy and lead to civil and/or criminal penalties.

This rule applies to the commercialization of works connected to a NFT:  no person may publish for sale or include in the metaverse a digital work without the permission of the artist or the right holders . Misuse of an artist’s identity may also give rise to heavy penalties. Anyone planning a NFT project linked to the work of an artist  is responsible for obtaining the necessary permissions from the right holders or the appropriate entities managing copyrights.

Technology and creativity go hand in hand when it comes to compliance with artists’ rights. The NFT market must be built in a thoughtful and structured manner so as to ensure that technology and economics are legally protected for the benefit of all interested parties.

Signatories :
ADAGP | Archives Yves Klein | Comité Georges Mathieu | Estate of Roy Lichtenstein | Fondation Calder | Fondation Foujita, sous l’égide de la Fondation Apprentis d’Auteuil | Fondation Le Corbusier | Fondation Niki de Saint Phalle | Man Ray Trust | SP Les Héritiers Matisse |Succession César | Succession Chagall | Succession Debré | Succession Jeanclos | Succession Lam | Succession Léger | Succession de Lempicka | Succession Magritte | Succession Miró | Succession Picasso | Succession de Staël