Copyright is the law of creative work. As a digital creative works marketplace in the blockchain ecosystem, the BookCoin community benefits from protecting the legal interests of all creators. This means ensuring that Authors understand that only authorized and original content may be minted and listed for sale on the BookCoin marketplace. By respecting the rights of all creators, BookCoin Authors help ensure market confidence in the rarity and value of each BookCoin Item to the growing network of digital collectors. These Copyright Guidelines and Policies provide an overview of acceptable marketplace minting conduct, a primer on some aspects of copyright law, and explain some of the unique copyright-related questions presented by NFTs and blockchain technology.
These Guidelines and Policies are not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Reliance on this guide does not form an attorney-client relationship. Copyright law varies depending on the jurisdiction, but these Guidelines and Policies primarily characterize and rely on United States copyright law, unless stated otherwise. There is no guarantee as to the accuracy of the information herein. If you have a legal question about your rights as an Author or Collector, especially a right concerning your right to mint artworks, a “fair use defense,” or a claim of copyright infringement, you should contact an attorney and not any members of the BookCoin team. For more information on copyright law, you can visit the website of the U.S. Copyright Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
What is a “Copyright”?
A copyright is a legal right granted to Authors for “original works of authorship.” In general, copyrights can be obtained in all sorts of creations, such as written creative works, paintings, drawings, sculptures, poems, lyrics, musical compositions, sound recordings, audiovisual works, and digital works. Copyright protection allows creators to market, exploit, and protect their creative efforts. A copyright owner has the right to prevent the unauthorized reproduction, display, distribution, and performance of original works of art. On the flip side, only the copyright owner can authorize such uses.
Obtaining Copyright Protection
Copyright registration is not necessarily required to obtain legal protection for digital work. Works by a creator are automatically protected by copyright the moment the work is created. All that is required is that the work is “fixed” in some tangible medium to qualify for copyright protection. Generally, if you create an original digital work you have a copyright from the moment of creation so long as it is stored in some file format. Thus, you have the right to prevent the unauthorized use of your creation the moment it is complete.
Benefits of Copyright Registration
Although registering copyrights in works is not required, it may provide additional useful benefits.. For example, in the U.S., copyright registration is required before an infringement suit may be filed in federal court. Copyright registration may also provide an avenue for receiving statutory damages and attorneys’ fees if litigating an infringement lawsuit in the United States. For more information on copyright registration, visit the U.S. Copyright Office at the link provided above.
Copyright ownership in a work vests initially in the author or authors of the work. Absent an obligation to assign, convey or transfer the copyright to someone else (i.e., a “work for hire” as discussed below), the Author(s) enjoy sole copyright ownership for original digital creations.
When two or more authors create a single work with the intent of merging their contributions into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole (i.e., digital art with audio elements), co-authors are considered joint authors and have an indivisible and equal interest in the work as a whole. Thus, true joint authors by default are equally entitled to sales and royalties, unless the joint authors agree otherwise. Currently, BookCoin does not facilitate the joint-minting of digital artworks and expects its Authors to work with each other in sharing profits received from jointly created works. BookCoin is working on ways to increase the flexibility and modularity of its market mechanics and may support these types of features in the future.
Works Made for Hire
Certain types of specifically commissioned works, or so-called “works made for hire,” are an exception to the general rule that the Author is the legal creator of the work. If a work was commissioned through a written agreement or made during the scope of the Author’s employment, the party that hired the Author may be considered both the author and the copyright owner of the work. Thus, an Author could be in violation of an obligation owed to another by minting artworks legally considered “works made for hire.” Whether a work is considered a “work made for hire” depends on the facts and circumstances. If you plan on minting a work that was specifically commissioned by a written agreement or created during the scope of your employment, you should consult an attorney before minting in order to determine the legal ownership of the works.
NFT Ownership ≠ Copyright Ownership
Ownership of a copyright is separate and distinct from ownership of any material object (i.e., a painting) or digital asset (i.e., a non-fungible token or “NFT”) in which the work is embodied or embedded. According to our Terms of Service, Authors do not lose copyright protection over works when they are sold on the BookCoin marketplace unless the parties expressly agree in writing to convey a copyright interest as part of the transfer. As further explained in our Terms of Service, Collectors only have a property interest in lawfully purchased NFTs, but they do not own the copyright in the underlying artworks. The Author reserves all exclusive copyrights to the underlying copyrights.
Can Authors Make Commercial Use of BookCoin Artworks After They Sell?
As the copyright owners for the works they create, BookCoin Authors have the exclusive right to make commercial use of their artworks (and all other exclusive rights under copyright law) even after being sold on the BookCoin marketplace. This means, that Authors are generally free to market, print, and license artwork underlying minted NFTs. However, and as explained further below, Authors are not permitted to sell other digital works or NFTs if an identical or nearly identical work is sold or listed for sale on the BookCoin marketplace.
The Collector’s Limited Rights to BookCoin Artworks
Collectors have the exclusive right to sell, trade, or transfer their BookCoin Items, but Collectors may not make “commercial use” of the underlying work. For example, Collectors may not sell copies of the work, mint additional NFTs based on the work, sell access to the work, sell derivative works embodying the work, or otherwise commercially exploit the Work. As detailed further in our Terms of Service, Collectors receive a limited license only to display, in a non-commercial manner, artworks underlying BookCoin items legally owned and properly obtained.
Authors Can Only Mint Original, Authorized, and Non-Infringing Works
BookCoin can only maintain its standing as the premier platform for fine digital art if Collectors continue to have high confidence in the integrity of the marketplace. Collectors should be confident that every item on the BookCoin marketplace is an original and lawfully minted creation that does not infringe on the intellectual property rights of others. As an Author, you can improve on your own reputation and add value to the BookCoin community by following these guidelines:
Mint only original, non-infringing works that you actually and personally created
Mint only works that you have the legal authority to mint (i.e., you are the owner of the copyright and you have not transferred or licensed the copyright to another)
Refrain from minting stolen, knock-off, or infringing content
Refrain from minting content created by other BookCoin Authors, unless expressly permitted
If your work incorporates unoriginal content, make sure that either the appropriated content is in the public domain or you have a valid “fair use” defense
Authors Are Responsible for Determining That Their Works Do Not Infringe
All Authors should monitor their own art for infringing content before minting to ensure the integrity of the marketplace and to protect their own reputation. Our Terms of Service expressly require Authors to represent that their works contain no infringing or unauthorized material and to indemnify BookCoin against any suits and claims made with respect to infringing works. BookCoin has no power to prevent an infringing work from being minted but does have the power to take down infringing works, revoke minting privileges, or otherwise restrict the use of the BookCoin platform for posting infringing content or violating these Guidelines, whether or not a “fair use” exception may apply. More details about rules for minting works on the BookCoin platform can be found in our Terms of Service.
Authors Must Refrain from Minting Unoriginal or Unauthorized Content Unless a Credible Fair Use Exception Applies
Determining whether it is acceptable to mint unoriginal content is a difficult judgment call. Indeed, many celebrated contemporary, pop, and collage art forms that embrace the practice of reappropriating unoriginal content are often met with much controversy, especially when the “fair use” work sells at astronomical prices with no financial or reputational credit given to appropriated Authors. Although the digital art world is relatively new, and standards for fairly rewarding all contributors are still under development, it’s clear that the crypto art movement has continued the practice of reappropriating unoriginal content, often with a symbolic, transformative, or meme-worthy purpose. Authors should never mint a work containing copyrightable elements of another’s work unless they are authorized by the copyright owner or a valid fair use defense applies.
Authors Must Determine at Their Own Risk Whether Their Works Qualify as “Fair Use”
Authors are solely (or with the help of their attorney) responsible for ensuring that the content they mint does not infringe the rights of others. Indeed, our Terms of Service and minting procedure require the Author to represent that their works are in fact original creations. Whether or not an Author believes that his or her work qualifies as “fair use,” they may still be held liable for infringement if an aggrieved copyright or trademark owner decides to institute legal action. BookCoin holds no responsibility to indemnify or defend Authors who are the subject of legal action by an intellectual property rights holder, whether the Author believes the Work qualifies for a fair use defense or not.
BookCoin Does Not Make “Fair Use” Judgements for Authors
We want and expect all of our Author’s to post non-infringing and original content, but we recognize that Authors need to borrow and build upon other works from time to time to fulfill their message and style. However, BookCoin will not make value judgments about the merit of particular pieces or the credibility of a “fair use” argument if a work is allegedly infringing, as it is almost certainly impossible for BookCoin to do.
BookCoin cannot and will not decide whether any Author's creation qualifies for a "fair use" exception. BookCoin is not capable of providing legal advice and does not operate with the authority of a court of law. BookCoin is primarily concerned with fostering the well-established community of Authors and Collectors, combatting copyright infringement, and fulfilling its duties under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as discussed further below. If your minting conduct is in violation of the Terms of Service, these Copyright Guidelines, our Community Guidelines, or is receiving complaints of infringement, BookCoin will take any action available to it at its sole discretion whether or not a "fair use" exception may apply.
Authors Agree Not to Mint Multiple NFTs for the Same Underlying Work
NFTs have created an entirely new asset class for digital art and collectibles, but much of the value derived from digital art depends on the proven rarity of the NFT. BookCoin items are intended to be unique, meaning that there should only ever be one digital asset for a given work of art. Blockchain makes it possible to verifiably prove the provenance and authenticity of digital art like never before, but there are currently no deployed technological mechanisms or standards to prevent Authors from minting identical NFTs and selling them without the original Collector’s knowledge. In order to ensure the rarity of each BookCoin item, our Terms of Service provide that minting a work on the Platform constitutes an express representation, warranty, and covenant that the Author has not, will not, and will not cause another to mint, tokenize, sell, or offer for sale another digital collectible, asset, or product for the same underlying work. Authors may, however, Mint multiple tokens for an individual Asset. A physical world example would be an Asset being equivalent to a novel and five tokens being equivalent to five rare printings of that single novel. So while an Author may mint multiple tokens for a single Asset on the BookCoin platform, the Author may not re-mint the same Asset whether on or off the BookCoin platform and agrees to such restriction in the Terms of Service.
The Role of Reputation
Reputation plays an important role in the art world. A solid reputation can turn a simple pixel into valuable work of art, but a poor reputation can create uncertainty and concern as to the value or credibility of a particular Author’s works. Reputation acts as a signal to collectors, but also as an enforcement mechanism to discourage infringement and duplicative minting of BookCoin items. If you mint duplicative works beyond the number of editions promised, the market will notice. If you consistently mint unoriginal content with a tenuous or non-existent “fair use” defense, the market will notice. Indeed, blockchain technology has enabled the market to notice these things better than ever before. In short, add value to your creative portfolio and to the BookCoin community by protecting your reputation through compliance with these Guidelines and Policies.
Copyright Infringement Complaints Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
BookCoin respects the intellectual property rights of others. It is our policy to respond promptly to any claim that content posted on our site infringes on the copyright or other intellectual property rights of any person. BookCoin Labs will use reasonable efforts to investigate notices of alleged infringement and will take appropriate action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and these Terms, including removing or disabling access to content claimed to be infringing and/or terminating accounts and access to the site. Collectors purchase BookCoin items assuming the risk that they may be subsequently taken down pursuant to a valid DMCA Notice. For more information on the DMCA and filing or responding to a DMCA “Take Down” Notice, please review our Terms of Service.
Penalties for Violating These Guidelines
Failure to abide by these Community Guidelines and Policies may result in, without limitation, suspension of minting privileges, deletion of your account, revocation of your right to access the BookCoin platform, delisting of your art works, or other penalties deemed suitable by the BookCoin team. BookCoin has the unilateral authority and discretion to remove, suspend, or revoke Authors’ access to the BookCoin platform for posting unoriginal content, whether or not a credible “fair use” defense exists.