A16z: why should NFT creators choose cc0?

Original title:《Why NFT Creators Are Going cc0

Author: flashrekt & Scott Duke Kominers,a16z 

Compiled by: Paramount

Thousands of innovative products are automatically imported into the public domain on January 1 every year, which also means that on "public domain day", copyright holders or creators give up their ownership of works of art, including reproduction, adaptation or publication, for free use by all. Film, poetry, music, books, and even source code are fully applicable to this criterion. The creative protection of works in the public domain usually lasts until 70 years after the author's death.

Public domain copyright publicity opens the door to a new world for non creative works. In the first half of the year, about 400000 recordings before 1923 and the first edition of Winnie the Pooh comic strip, which has not yet become a well-known Disney employee in red short sleeves, were put into the public domain and the copyright was made public. The author A.A.MILNE could never have imagined that Winnie and her friends, who were born in 1926, were given the color and expression of 2022 by the community's creators. Even in the works of some creators, the bear holding a honey jar has become the protagonist of the horror film Winnie the Pooh: blood, tears and honey, and Winnie and piggy pygmy have co starred as villains.

Compared with many classic IPS that continue the original creative style, experimental reconfiguration may add more value to scientific and technological IP, and allow the public to make second innovations on the basis of existing technology, which is also the core driving force of the open source movement. Android, Linux and other successful open source software projects are so competitive, in large part because they have the courage to embrace "unlicensed innovation". The success of encryption systems, especially the NFT community, in attracting public development is also due to its universal recognition of open source and "remix culture".

Grasp the memory point of the product

Strategies for building brands, communities, and content through IP vary widely among different NFT projects. Some projects maintain a standard intellectual property protection system more or less; Other projects only give NFT owners the right to innovate on relevant IP; Other projects choose to take off directly and completely cancel the protection of copyright and other IP.

By publishing digital works with the permission of "Creative Commons zero", i.e. "cc0", the creator can choose not to retain the ownership separately without retaining the right to know. This authority allows everyone to safely and boldly make peripheral products without bearing the legal consequences of "second innovation". [special note: there are no complete regulations on NFT copyright, so the so-called copyright here has nothing to do with law, finance, tax or investment. This article focuses on cc0, NFT's copyright loopholes, and the creator's behavior of safeguarding the owner's rights]

The wide application of cc0 in the field of NFT began with the nouns project in the summer of 2021. Projects such as a common place, anonymous, blitmap, chain runners, cryptoadz, cryptoteddies, goblintown, gradis, lot, mfers, mirakai, shields, and terrain club have been followed up quickly, and more and more high-quality new derivatives have been produced on the basis of them.

At the same time, famous encryption artist x_ Copy placed its iconic 1-of-1 NFT artwork "right click and save as guy" under the cc0 license in January. Just one month after the sale, a large number of derivatives appeared.

"Right click Save as guy" by xcopy (left) / xcopy original derivatives (right)

Monday, X_ Copy directly worked for the big ticket, announcing its intention to "all in" and apply cc0 to all works of art. The artist added, "we haven't really seen a summer of cc0 yet, but I believe it is coming..." - perhaps suggesting a potential growth period of cc0, similar to the "summer of defi" in 2020, which attracted countless decentralized followers.

Why are so many NFT creators on the path of "no copyright"?

One reason can be simply summed up as "everything is for culture", that is, to promote the development of original projects to bring a more dynamic and participatory community. This is particularly meaningful in the context of encryption. Open sharing, finding and building communities are part of the core philosophy of many encryption enthusiasts.

The survival of creative works depends on whether they have cultural relevance. Although NFT naturally has the ability to prove the ownership of all digital projects, so that the author does not need to consider licensing issues, cc0 extends the "memory curve" of the original by giving everyone unimpeded rights to re creation - when new derivatives continue to appear and spread, people's attention will naturally flow to the original, enhancing its attention in the entire encrypted world, thereby stimulating more re creation, Generate flywheel effect - every derivative can increase the value of the original, similar to the platform network effect, that is, the addition of users makes the platform more valuable to users.

In other words, cc0 makes it easier for creators to "grasp the memory of products".

However, the application of cc0 in the whole digital field has just begun - real world physical products are also producing derivatives of cc0nft assets. The iconic square glasses ("one per day, forever") on the nounsdao NFT have been made into truly wearable luxury sunglasses by the nouns vision project. Blitmap's pixel art has been completely free to appear on shoes, clothes and hats from different production companies. This is clearly in sharp contrast to the strong voice of a single owner over creation, licensing and production under the traditional intellectual property model.

Hats with blitmap logo actually have multiple cc0 levels: the underlying cc0 entity "blitcap" is actually a derivative with the characteristics of the second cc0 chain runner series, and it is also a product with the first cc0 blitcap logo "original". This sign is actually biltmap's token 84 work, and it is also one of several "originals" that are often used as inspiration driven creations in the series (other works are "DOM rose", token #1, etc.). The "tribute classic" that the two creators came one after another also reflected blitmap's great influence in the whole encryption world as a leader of cc0 and one of the first major NFT projects to announce its entry into the public domain.

Such derivatives are win-win for both the originator and the derivative manufacturer, especially for the derivative manufacturer. Derivatives borrowed some brand awareness from the original project. When derivatives are presented to the public as independent products, people will have new interest in the original project. For example, when people see someone wearing nouns glasses on the street or in the advertising booth, it is an angle to buy their own glasses, and they may also be interested in buying the original nounsdao NFT or other related derivatives. [in fact, the second author of this article first found blitmap through chain runners. Although blits far exceeded his purchasing power, he finally bought several derivatives of "flipmap".]

Physical Blitmap Logo Hat (1), Chain Runners #780 ft. Blitmap Hat trait (2) and the Blitmap Original 「Logo #87」 (3)

Open source embraces co creation

Based on smart contract technology, the power of NFT partly comes from the inherent composability of technology. Many smart contracts are positioned as "building blocks", that is, through combination and stacking, to achieve richer applications.

Just as "money LEGO" is used to describe the combination of decentralized financial ("defi") smart contracts, they are interconnected to form new financial use cases. (for example, the stable currency $dai of yield aggregator year and makerdao and the exchange liquidity provider curve can interact only by calling the public functions on their smart contracts.) from the same perspective of composability, NFT and its underlying smart contracts can be used as the basic conditions for the reorganization and splicing of culture and creativity.

Cc0 is the guarantee that the above behaviors can be smoothly realized with the permission of the original author, so that NFT fans can obtain a clear authorization from the community, so that they can establish a new value layer anytime, anywhere.

The game concept from hyperlot is a derivative of the lot project, showing multiple cc0 projects as controllable characters in fictional games

For the more far-reaching "open source", cc0 can even stand on the same level with the rise of Linux. In that year when Web2.0 was a new concept, Microsoft controlled most of the operating system market with its closed source operating system windows. However, Linux (and its creator Linus Torvalds) advocates the spirit of community first, open source code for everyone to use and modify, and there are no restrictions on dissemination. The open source of Linux directly brings "developers all over the world together" to create everything for Linux, including web servers, databases, and connection systems. The value proposition of Linux has been enhanced by the worldwide open source software in the system, which has finally brought explosive growth and further innovation to the entire industry. According to the data of market analysis agency truelist, Linux accounts for more than 96.3% of the top 1million network servers and 85% of smartphones today.

As cc0 licensing begins to empower NFT community builders in a similar way, people can imagine a long-term innovation trajectory. According to the "logic LEGO" idea of punk4156, the co-founder of nounsdao, which combines cc0 with NFT to "turn confrontational games into cooperative games". This idea has several key points: first, since the decentralized system from open source to encryption is about trust and coordination between strangers, promoting cooperation opportunities is the key to success; Secondly, in the world of NFT, this kind of cooperation strengthens people's ownership of digital assets, gives them the motivation to continue to create while holding assets, and thus improves the artistic value of original digital assets, forming a virtuous circle.

"License" of creativity

If the cc0 project is similar to a single open source "application" or "platform", NFT artwork, metadata and smart contracts provide a "user interface", while the underlying blockchain (such as Ethereum) is an "operating system". However, in order to make these applications reach the potential similar to Linux, it is necessary to create more supporting infrastructure services that can be invoked at any time, so that people can maximize the "reverberation" opportunities created by cc0.

These services have begun to take shape. For example, the "superstructure" Zora agreement and opensea's open source seaport agreement are the technical foundation for establishing an open and unlicensed market for NFT transactions. Recently, a pixel painting rendering engine was publicly released on the Ethereum blockchain and has been integrated into projects such as okpc and ice64. Every successful application will add fire to the blockchain's ability to meet the "open bag ready to eat" standard, and more and more new applications are born in the growing blocks.

Although the growth of Web3 developers is at an all-time high and expanding rapidly, the total amount still accounts for only a small part of the global active software developers. Fortunately, as more and more developers enter this field, the ambitious NFT project may find more creative "LEGO" to provide the technical cornerstone for cc0 project and other projects.

Composability is the key to growth. Since these digital assets are based on public standards based on Interoperability infrastructure, it is easy for users to put assets into various platforms. The lot project is an example of this scalability in practice. It is one of the first pioneering projects to show the decentralized co creation and world construction in NFTs. We share this example because it is obviously "flawed" or even "incomplete" in terms of aesthetics, but it also leaves more space for the imagination of all encryption enthusiasts and the community to create together.

Here is a little background knowledge about lot: lot starts with a series of lot NFTs, and each NFT only includes a simple list of eight "adventure items" with white words on a black background (such as "katana, divine robot, great helm, wool sash, divine slides, chain graves, amulet, golden ring" in trophy bag 5726). These booty bags were released free of charge by the original creator DOM Hofmann and are a starting point for community construction.

Several projects have indeed begun to develop all contents from world outlook construction to world modeling (game development) in a short time. Creators from all sides have contributed many derivatives to "rootverse". They have made games (realms & the crypt); Roles (Genesis project, hyperlot, and lot Explorers); Banners and openquill; There is even the rift.

So, how does cc0 and composability apply here? Users control the basic lot bags, which is a meaningful "initial bag" in many different games and world views. Users can use these core assets anywhere after connecting their wallets. This feature also enables them to participate in many derivative projects, including Genesis adventure. Its special role is quite unique in other projects, and basically realizes decentralized franchise that does not belong to any entity.

When will the summer of cc0 come?

As mentioned above, NFT projects can adopt many strategies when developing and establishing their IP. When it comes to cc0, the important word is "reality". License is not Aladdin's magic lamp. It can't easily turn any project into a sensation - it's impossible to expect the public domain to suddenly make something unprecedented successful. Just like open source software, cc0 works best for those potential stocks NFT that can empower the ecosystem.

So far, many of the most successful cc0 projects have been successful by introducing intellectual property that can be used flexibly in a series of different contexts. Nouns brand is as intuitive for beer advertising as physical glasses; Lot bags is the initial prop of the great adventure; Goblintown's artistic style looks as good on dwarves, zombies and irascible owls as it does on Val Kilmer.

People have reason to believe that the ideal cc0 NFT project creates value-added opportunities for builders, including vertically, directly stacking new content and functions on the original cc0 assets (such as games established on the lot ecosystem), and horizontally, helping to spread the brand of the original cc0 project (such as various goblintown derivatives) by introducing different but related intellectual property rights.

Because cc0 NFT projects usually obtain continuous royalties from secondary sales, third-party expansion and derivatives can become a source of revenue by promoting the increase in demand for original cc0 assets, so that the business model surrounding cc0 NFT projects can directly benefit from these activities.

In addition, cc0 can reduce commercial disputes. Clinging to copyright may lead some "rebellious" brands to force derivatives without authorization, and even to "bypass" the original. As Robbie Broome, the head of cc0 project a common place, explained, "by giving cc0 the intellectual property rights instead of &\x27; protecting &\x27; it can avoid the bad repetition of the next step. For example, if urbanoutfitters wants to put my design on a T-shirt and hire someone in their team to design something that looks like it, they can directly use the actual work." Sometimes, using cc0 can effectively turn competition into cooperation.

In addition, cc0 project can greatly benefit from the community's recognition of the value and contribution of core assets. Community cohesion and participation are crucial here. Based on the example mentioned above. Although developers can create adventure games around any theme and item concept they want in principle, many people choose to develop around lot bag, which reflects the community cohesion in lot verse. At the same time, blitmap derivative project flipmap shared part of their income with the original blitmap artists to recognize the core position of the project in the community, which can promote the health culture in the ecosystem of cc0 project. As the cc0 project commentator niftypins pointed out, "this is a wise move to pay tribute to the people who built the foundation of their universe. It also provides an environment for many og blitmap artists to speak freely.".

However, cc0 is not a solution that the entire encryption world is fascinated by - for example, NFT, which is built around established brands, may prefer to choose more restrictive licenses to protect its existing knowledge products and enhance exclusivity. In addition, although cc0 has similarities with those owners' strategies to commercialize NFT related IP (such as à La bored ape Yacht Club), the key difference is that cc0 holders have no right to prevent others from using the same IP. Therefore, it is more difficult for the holder to establish a business brand on cc0 assets or grant specific rights to partners. However, the introduced rights are still in the hands of the holder, who can still choose the IP (such as background story or derivatives) that is completely under control.

Decentralization and open development are the core elements of blockchain technology and the broader cryptocurrency spirit. This makes the cryptocurrency project very natural to build around the cc0 content model - which is based on creative consensus and several groundbreaking open source pioneers - and may represent one of the purest manifestations of the "open source philosophy" so far.

Like the sponsors of open source software projects, NFT creators who choose cc0 must decide their role in building the surrounding ecosystem. Some cc0 project leaders, such as the founder of chain runners, continue to build on the initial cc0 assets and actively establish an environment so that derivative projects can be based on it. In contrast, DOM Hofmann retired from the lot and left it to the community. (it is said that DOM is developing other cc0 NFT projects as part of supporting the development of companies such as blitmap). Other creators completely chose to quit. For example, recently, a person with a pseudonym of sartoshi announced that he had quit his cc0 project mfers and completely quit NFT space. He released a final version, appropriately named "the end of sartoshi", and then deleted his twitter account. The smart contract of the mfers project is now controlled by the multi signature wallets of seven MFER community members.

Regardless of the continuous involvement of the original author, cc0 authorization can enable a strong community to create together in a way that provides value to all members. With the continuous development and maturity of NFT space, it is hoped that more organized infrastructure and design patterns can support the efforts of these creatives. The framework around value acquisition may also be innovative, just like open source software. (for example, we might imagine a version of the "Sleepycat license", which requires proprietary software products to pay license fees when embedding certain open source components). As creators continue to advance this space, they develop and experiment with new rights and licensing models that are gradually emerging in the encrypted world, and these ideas far exceed today's application scale. But in any case, cc0 provides NFT creators with a way to start projects - that is, to let these projects explore the infinite possibilities of existence by themselves.