logo
logo
logo
MENU
Jeanne Hamburg
Member
Jeanne Hamburg
Visit Profile

Tokenizing Creative Works: Dash, Jay-Z, and A Lesson in Copyright

copyright on social media

In March 2021, Artnet News reported that Beeple’s $69 million sale of a non-fungible token (“NFT”) artwork at Christie’s was the highest on record to date. For those who hadn’t been paying attention, the sale was a head-turning event.

Dash, Jay-Z, and A Lesson in Copyright

NFTs are digital assets on the blockchain with unique identification codes and metadata that distinguish them from each other. NFTs can be used to represent real-world tangible assets such as creative works. But when NFTs represent original creative works, can just anyone tokenize them? The answer is a resounding no.

A federal lawsuit filed on June 18, 2021, pits Roc-A-Fella Records, Inc., (“RAF”) against Damon Dash. RAF is owned in equal parts by Shawn Carter, a/k/a Jay-Z, Kareem Burke, and Dash. On June 23, the Court entered a temporary restraining order enjoining Dash from selling an NFT of Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt album. Dash claimed to be selling his one-third interest in RAF via the NFT sale. And here’s where Dash got it wrong. Simply because he owned a one-third interest in RAF does not mean Dash owned a joint interest in the copyright in the master recordings comprising the Reasonable Doubt album.

Rather, the 1995 master recording agreement between Jay-Z and RAF clearly specifies that RAF commissioned the master recordings for Reasonable Doubt as works made for hire, with copyright ownership and authorship in the name of the commissioning party, RAF, according to the Complaint in the case. Therefore, copyright in the masters is owned by RAF, not by one or more of its individual owners.

Tokenizing Creative Works

Dash’s mistake was in failing to understand that he could not tokenize a creative work protected under the copyright law if he were not the owner of copyright in the work. The lesson: be aware of the copyright status of creative works before you attempt to exploit them by tokenizing them and selling them as an NFT. If you are not aware, you just may end up in court.

For further guidance on copyright issues or disputes, or any other intellectual property matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me at jhamburg@norris-law.com.

Share
Related Posts
Terminate Copyright Grants Correctly or Risk Losing Your Rights
Jeanne Hamburg
Member
Jeanne Hamburg
Visit Profile
Related Posts
Terminate Copyright Grants Correctly or Risk Losing Your Rights
Share
Join our growing team
We are looking for quality attorneys to help us do more for our clients. At Norris McLaughlin, each attorney has the same opportunity to succeed whether you’re at the beginning of a career or pinnacle of the profession.
Subscribe to our content
Receive timely legal information
delivered to your inbox
Subscribe to our content
Receive timely legal information
delivered to your inbox
© 2021, Norris McLaughlin, P.A., All Rights Reserved. Attorney Advertising.
Meritas

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue to use this site we will assume you consent to our cookie policy. Learn more