Non-fungible tokens (NFT) and culture: the urgency of securing new uses

The emergence of new technologies constantly calls into question the legal environment of creation and its ecosystem. This has been the case in recent years, with non-fungible tokens (JNF), better known by their English acronym NFT (for non-fungible tokens),

Admittedly, apart from the contemporary art market, these tokens are still far from having found their place in the world of culture on a daily basis and even less in public cultural services.

However “anticipation is […] more than ever a necessity so as not to allow spaces to appear and develop in which the law no longer fulfills its function, thus leading to the destruction of economic and cultural values, which are often long-lasting and considerable”, underlines Maître Jean Martin, president of the mission on non-fungible tokens, whose report, commissioned in November 2021 by the Superior Council for Literary and Artistic Property (CSPLA) was submitted last July.

Non-fungible tokens and inalienability of public collections

Some applications are beginning to emerge in the circle of internationally renowned museums. In the mission letter addressed to Maître Jean Martin, Olivier Japot, president of the CSPLA cites as an example, “the Russian Hermitage Museum [qui] offered in the form of NFT the Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci, the lilacs of Vincent Van Gogh, or the Montgeron garden corner by Claude Monet.

The phenomenon of non-fungible tokens “raises important and new legal questions relating both to intellectual property and to the technology used, relating to the originality of the work thus “tokenized”, to the ownership of the rights and their mode of management, the application of this technology to public collections which are characterized by their inalienability”, underlines in particular Olivier Japot.

Guarantee a balanced and secure framework for the use of NFTs

In its report, the mission on non-fungible tokens evokes the “significant opportunities for the development of cultural activities offered by these “unidentified legal objects”, both for public and private actors” (read framed).

But she sees a precondition for the dissemination of these “digital certificates of rights”: “a common work of all” to develop “guidelines of good practices which guarantee a balanced and secure framework for the various uses of “NFT”, with in perspective their essential role in this new expanding economic and cultural space that are the “metavers”. »

At this stage, the rapporteurs do not provide any concrete recommendations. On the other hand, they review the points that this “common work” will have to sift through. This marking the ground leads them to examine the opportunities that non-fungible tokens present for culture as well as their potential dangers, and to outline the many avenues for reflection.

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Non-fungible tokens (NFT) and culture: the urgency of securing new uses

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