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Alibaba launches an NFT platform to sell copyright licenses

Photo of: Joseph Stone
by Joseph Stone

The Chinese e-commerce multinational Alibaba has just launched a new platform for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). It allows brand owners to sell licenses of their copyrights in the form of NFTs.

This non-fungible token platform (NFTs) named Blockchain Digital Copyright and Asset-Trade is directly accessible on the Alibaba Auctions website.

NFTs launched via the platform will be issued on the New Copyright Blockchain, a technology platform centrally managed by the Copyright Committee of the Sichuan Blockchain Association.

The goal is to enable writers, musicians, artists, and video game developers to sell their works and the intellectual property behind them.

The platform already offers several NFTs to be auctioned from September 2021. Those wishing to participate will have to pay a deposit of 500 yuan, about 65 euros. Each sale has a reserve price set at 100 yuan or 13 euros.

Buyers will be able to view their collections via the crypto-currency wallet app, Bit Universe, integrated with WeChat. However, many of the NFTs offered for sale do not specify what rights buyers are granted.

Among the digital items on offer are a Star Wars illustration and a painting of the West Pearl Tower, a landmark in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan.

This new platform comes in response to demand as lawsuits over unauthorized use of the intellectual property by NFTs are on the rise. Indeed, as always, the law seems to be a bit out of touch with these UFO assets that are NFTs. Legislation is therefore in its infancy, if not absent. At best, we can consider that NFTs are digital tokens in the sense of the monetary and financial code since they have almost all the characteristics. As far as taxation is concerned, there is nothing until they are converted into euros!

Also, NFTs present a legal problem unknown until now in the world of blockchain: counterfeiting. Indeed, NFTs have the particularity of being unique. We already knew that the blockchain could record a transaction in an immutable manner, certify a document such as a real estate deed or trace a farm chicken from the farm to the supermarket shelf. But none of these prerogatives address the problem of counterfeiting. For example, unless all parties are involved (buyer, seller, notary or even real estate agent), the real estate deed of sale cannot be a forgery. Above all, this is the first time, at least on this scale, that blockchain deals with art.

Take the recent examples of Larva Labs vs. CryptoPhunks, CryptoPunks looking to the left rather than the right. Or more recently the Sad Frogs project was being sued by Matt Furie, the creator of the Pepe The Frog meme.