Controversy swirls over CryptoPunks copyright licenses as floor price for CryptoPunks NFTs drops–and Bored Ape NFTs close in

  • Things in the NFT world are happening fast and furious. The CryptoPunks NFTs, produced by Larva Labs, are the highest grossing collection to date, and probably the most famous.
  • But, in the past few days, debate over the terms and lack of clarity in the copyright licenses that owners of CryptoPunks NFTs received–or did not receive–has intensified. The issue has been percolating for several years, but seems to have heightened in the past week. Yes, a controversy over copyright licenses, of all things! More on that below.
  • For example, the owner of CryptoPunk #4156 NFT wrote:
  • Meanwhile, the floor price for the lowest CryptoPunks NFT is dropping. Some think that the floor for CryptoPunks NFTs will soon drop below the competitor Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs–the so-called “flip.”
  • Hard to say for sure whether this drop in floor price is related to the social media debate over the CryptoPunks licenses. (Cryptocurrency saw a drop in price over the same days, so that could be a factor.)
  • So what’s all the hubbub about the CryptoPunks copyright licenses? Well, it’s a long story. So I’ve written an article about it, titled “The Cryptic Case of the CryptoPunks Licenses: The Mystery Over the Licenses for CryptoPunks NFTs.”
  • Abstract
    • The CryptoPunks NFT collection, produced by Larva Labs, is the highest-grossing NFT collection to date. Sales have surpassed $1.6 billion. That figure is all the more astounding given that Larva Labs gave away all 10,000 CryptoPunks NFTs for free in 2017. Christie’s has described the CryptoPunks as “the alpha and omega of the CyptoArt movement.” Adding to their mystique is a legal mystery: What content license governs the use of the CryptoPunks artwork and characters? Shockingly, Larva Labs distributed the 10,000 CryptoPunks NFTs without any written content license in 2017. Apparently, one of the Larva Labs co-founders John Watkinson later adopted the open-source NFT License in 2019 to apply to the CryptoPunks NFTs. But that adoption was in a chat on Discord, a social media platform. Mysteriously, Larva Labs has not officially adopted the NFT License in the Terms and Conditions for the CryptoPunks NFTs on its website. This Article dissects the cryptic case of the CryptoPunks licenses.