The Evolution and Trends in NFT IP Licensing

The Evolution and Trends in NFT IP Licensing

NFT licensing has only become an issue recently. Prior to now, no one really worried about NFT intellectual property and licensing. However, the introduction and definition of holder’s rights by the Bored Ape Yacht Club inadvertently brought the spotlight on IP licensing on non-fungible tokens. In its terms and conditions, BAYC stated that holders have the right to the commercialization of their art.

If this is the case, to what extent can digital art be commercialized, and under what circumstances?

Art for Creative Commons (CCo)

The Moonbird NFT collection has led the way in the CCo approach to NFT licensing. It recently moved the rights to the collection from NFT holders to the Creative Commons, also known as “No Rights Reserved." This means that all the art in the collection can now be used freely and for any purpose by all members of the public.

The logic behind this approach is that, like open source software, the value of the NFT will eventually increase as more people find creative use cases for the NFT, which ultimately benefits holders. On the other hand, shifting rights from NFT holders to the public effectively deprives collectors of exclusivity. It also robs them of the opportunity to commercialize their art and make gains of it for themselves alone. Obviously, this did not sit well with some collectors.

Putting it succinctly, collectors now hold assets that everyone owns, some of which were sold as high as 350 ETH.

NFT Holders' Rights

Yuga Labs seems to be pioneering and defining what NFT holders’ rights mean. Just as it did with BAYC, it has also done the same following its acquisition of the Crypto Punks and Meebits collections. Following the acquisitions, Yuga Labs made it public that holders of Crypto Punks now have commercial rights, as well as the IP and licensing rights to their NFTs, and are free to monetize them whichever way they deem fit.

This means that the right to the creative usage of any of the art in the Crypto Punks collection is solely in the hands of the collector. When such a person sells their NFT, they automatically transfer the right to the new owner.

Right Variation

As the debate on the best approach to NFT IP licensing continues, it is possible that creators will have to consider different factors before determining the form of rights that should be placed on an NFT.

In this scenario, we could see the emergence of NFT rights categories such as “No rights reserved," “All rights reserved” (though this will be against the ethos of web3 and decentralization), or “some rights reserved” (with the terms explicitly stated).


It is still early days in the evolution of NFT IP Licensing. More updates are bound to evolve in the near future.

Did you enjoy this article?

Subscribe to Redlion Gazette

Gazette time units are weeks so our subscriptions follow that pattern. You are always getting your Gazette & ArtDrop plus saving 30% of the minting price! There are 2 tiers of subscription.

        Never miss a thing!

        Find your weekly guilty pleasure in a mailbox.