CC0 and NFT: How to subvert intellectual property

Intellectual property and copyright issues are very complex and have undergone a long evolutionary spiral. Since the 18th century, copyright law has changed dramatically and is widely used in many statutory jurisdictions. Likewise, there has been a change in the way companies take to enforce what is believed to be a violation.

Take the board game company Games Workshop as an example, the Warhammer 40,000 game IP developed by it has been a huge success. The company’s crackdown on fan-generated content on the Internet has sown dissatisfaction among its fan base. In 2019, a grieving father wanted to have a Spider-Man image on his late son’s gravestone, but Disney turned down the father’s request, turning Disney into the villain of its real-world movies.

However, breaking away from the traditional hierarchical structure and empowering grassroots communities is the cornerstone of Web3’s “delegating power to the people” design. So, when NFTs started changing hands for hundreds of thousands of dollars, no one was excited to see the intellectual property disputes surrounding items and collectibles as they were with CryptoPunks.

CryptoPunks, prior to its acquisition by Yuga Labs, allowed collectors to use their NFTs as profile pictures, but nothing more. Bored Apes, on the other hand, allows buyers to monetize specific apes as long as they do not attempt to monetize the BAYC logo itself. This has led to some interesting attempts, such as the Bored Wine Company, which allows you to transform your own apes into unique labels on aged wines.

As people in the NFT ecosystem seek ways to avoid confusing copyright issues and empower their collectors, some projects have started using CC0 copyright licenses, a legal tool seen by some as a solution to such issues.

Assuming you’re wondering why so many people are excited about the idea of ​​NFTs, and what NFTs mean for the empowerment of the Web3 community, the CC0 copyright is one of the effective mechanisms for moving this forward.

What is a CC0 license?

CC0, also known as “Creative Commons”, means “no rights reserved” to intellectual property. This is a form of copyright that allows creators to relinquish legal rights to their work and push it into the public domain as much as possible. In the case of NFTs, this is done so that collectors can build or recreate the art in their NFTs for any purpose—whether for reproduction, branding, or marketing. Having a project with this license means you can’t even be limited to your own NFTs – you can use any NFT in your collection, even as a logo for a new company if you want.

At first glance this may seem counter-intuitive. If IP is so lucrative, releasing those copyrights would be economic suicide, right? Not really.

Why use CC0?

There are several benefits to using a CC0 license, the most basic being that it is more likely to increase the brand awareness of your NFT project.

NFTs that are not restricted by copyright can be freely spread all over the world, spread the popularity of your project, and deeply understand the value of the project. Using a CC0 license also saves you the logistical and legal hassle when dealing with IP theft, since technically nothing can be stolen.

Gradually, more and more NFT projects began to use CC0 copyright. Take Goblintown, one of the most common and heart-warming NFT projects in 2022, as an example. Due to its use of CC0, the imitation of the project spread like wildfire. In just a few days, Goblintown derivatives occupied OpenSea’s trading volume rankings. On June 2, 2022, its trading volume accounted for 43.7% of the platform’s total trading volume, which is incredible. Achieving cultural importance is the key to success in the NFT ecosystem, and to do this, using the CC0 license is one of the best ways.


Abds licensed under CC0 can perform very well: just look at the Nouns NFT project, one of the first to try Creative Commons. After voting on various proposals for the use of NFTs in the community in the Nouns DAO, community members approved various projects, including a partnership with Budweiser, the launch of a documentary, the creation of the Nouns coffee brand, and donations to support Ukrainian refugees. How is the result? The Nouns DAO treasury is currently sitting on 26,270 ETH (nearly $45 million as of August 2022).

Punk4156, one of the founders of Nouns, has long advocated for the benefits of CC0. In a tweet in May, he said:


“CC0+NFT is to media what Bitcoin is to currency: it turns an adversarial game into a cooperative game” .

The incredible success of the project is a compelling argument for the many benefits of the CC0 license.

The famous CC0 project

Nouns isn’t the only project that has thrived using this license. Chain Runners, Mfers, CrypToadz and other projects have incorporated CC0 into their infrastructure and have benefited from it. This legal solution is a pure example of Web3 principles in action. CC0 is supported by the NFT community, helping to create something closer to the decentralized world that many people have placed high hopes on CC0.


However, like everything else in the NFT world, CC0 is not a one-size-fits-all application for all projects, and each project has different needs.

CC0 ownership debate

While the CC0 license may seem like a perfect example of the decentralized nature of Web3, there is still disagreement within the NFT community regarding the value, functionality, and implementation of the CC0 license.

Moonbirds, for example, made a massive announcement in August, nearly five months after the project’s launch, that they would switch to a CC0 license, sparking a heated discussion among artists and collectors in the field.

So, what’s the point of having an NFT with a CC0 license instead of right-clicking and saving it on your computer? Pranksy, a well-known collector and NFT thought leader, responded to the announcement on Twitter. “I want my ownership to be reflected, whether it’s commercial use or personal use. I don’t want extremist groups to use my ownership to fight unwarranted battles.


Pranksy’s views are based on the idea of ​​exclusivity and the notion of having a representational aspect of digital art. Yes, blockchain can provide an immutable record of ownership, but fundamentally, does allowing anyone and everyone to use art for personal and commercial purposes undermines ownership of it?

Not so, says field photographer and NFT artist Cath Simard. Simard cites her #freehawaiiphoto as an example of a CC0-licensed artwork, emphasizing that releasing the rights to digital art only helps to enhance the value of the original work, not how people use it.


“Have you heard of the #freehawaiiphoto I sold to @gmoneyNFT a year ago under the CC0 concept? Simply put, the copy makes the original more valuable .”

Pranksy also pointed out that there is a key difference between projects that use CC0 from the start and projects like Moonbirds that change their minds after the fact. If an owner bought a project primarily because the project didn’t use the CC0 license, and then suddenly had ownership removed because the project switched to CC0, does the project act in bad faith? Also, for collectors who feel this way, what is the developer’s responsibility (if at all) in this situation?

It will be interesting to see how this divergence affects the project DAO. For example, if the community has a lot of dissatisfaction with the choice to use CC0 for a previously protected IP, then community members may propose proposals to change or influence that decision.

Regardless, the debate points to a broader and ongoing debate about how centralized the Web3 world is now and how it should be in the future. For all the community members and project developers who rhetorically support the idea of ​​decentralization, it is clear that this is not a broad solution that should be universally applicable to the Web2 problem.

If the CC0 debate has taught us anything, it is that no one knows how to weigh the pros and cons associated with decentralization of using or not using CC0. As an early contributor to the next generation of web change and the creative economy that comes with it, I’m honored to witness a healthy and novel discussion unfolding under the new vision of Web3’s future.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

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