NFTs: Non-fungible Tokens and their legal consequences


By Meghmala

Since it can be challenging to find and identify the original owner of work on virtual platforms, NFTs are mostly used to confirm ownership. This is because easy reproduction of work might result in a decrease in its value. NFTs are therefore an attempt to enforce value storage, ownership monitoring, and decentralization. It grants “digital bragging rights” by means of authenticated ownership documentation.
The legitimacy of these digital assets is still a big question, though. Concerns have been raised about the legitimacy and legal status of these tokens, particularly in India. As a result, proponents of the NFT in that country have voiced worries about the long-term sustainability of the initiative because there are no clear regulations that forbid or restrict Indians from engaging in NFT transactions.
NFTs are digital tokens that may be used to represent ownership of any kind of digital property, including virtual real estate, music, art, and other forms of digital information. NFTs are unique among cryptocurrencies in that they are not tradable, unlike conventional ones like Bitcoin. Unlike typical cryptocurrencies, each NFT is unique and cannot be traded one-to-one. Their distinctiveness stems from the blockchain’s capacity to confirm the legitimacy and possession of a particular digital object.
The most important legal discussion surrounding NFTs is the one pertaining to intellectual property rights and copyright. There are issues about ownership of digital assets when producers, singers, or artists tokenize their creations as NFTs. Is the NFT only a document that proves ownership, or does it also grant copyright ownership? This has grown to be a significant matter, particularly in light of the resale of NFTs and the rights of the artists involved in those sales.
NFT-related legal conflicts are beginning to surface, shedding light on the difficulties associated with digital ownership. Lawsuits pertaining to copyright violations, unapproved tokenization, and stolen artwork marketed as NFTs have brought up important concerns about how legal systems throughout the world will resolve these kinds of conflicts. These examples highlight the need for legal clarification regarding NFTs, especially with regard to safeguarding the rights of buyers and producers.
The provenance aspect, which is crucial, is provided by the blockchain technology that powers NFTs. This indicates that the ownership and transfer history of a particular digital item is unchangeable and visible. Because it enables individuals to demonstrate the legitimacy and ownership of their creations, this may be extremely advantageous to artists and other producers.
The copyright of the underlying work of art is currently not transferred to the owner with the purchase of the NFT. A signed sale contract that expressly assigns copyright must exist in order to transfer copyright and be recognized as the owner, as per Section 19 of the Copyright Act of 1957.
The only right to “reproduce and distribute copies of it” belongs to the owner of a work, according to Section 14 of the Copyright Act. Thus, such conduct may not be granted protection unless the buyer and seller specifically prohibit resale or copying of the NFT.
Therefore, unless the owner expressly transfers their rights, the buyer cannot prove ownership of the item. The Copyright Act will, however, shield the buyer’s digital object from unauthorized duplication or distribution.
The acceptance of blockchain-based provenance as proof in copyright cases and court cases has legal ramifications. In addition to digital art and collectibles, NFTs are finding their way into luxury products and real estate. Particular legal issues pertaining to property rights, taxes, and regulatory compliance are brought up by this growth.





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