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DC and Marvel NFTs are a no for now

Matthew Fleischman

The top two major comic book publishers, DC and Marvel, told freelance artists not to auction NFTS of their IPs.  

As the popularity of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continues to rise more traditional artists hope to join the trend.  While the booming NFT market seems like a good opportunity for many, some see it as a threat.  The laws and rules regarding copyright and intellectual property when it comes to NFTs are still a little hazy.  While more companies are joining the NFT frey, the IP haziness has them a little worried as well.

A DC and Marvel Team-up we didn’t expect to see

Back in March, Warner Brothers, who own DC Comics, put out a statement to their freelance artists.  The comic book company told artists that they could not create NFTs of any IP and characters DC comics owned. In effect,  freelance artists could not make and sell any NFT art depicting anything in the DC universe. This was done after Jose Delgo, a comic book artist, minted a Wonder Woman NFT collection on Makersplace.

“Please note that the offering for sale of any digital images featuring DC’s intellectual property with or without NFTs, whether rendered for DC’s publications or rendered outside the scope of one’s contractual engagement with DC, is not permitted.”

Letter from DC’s legal team to artists

Ironically one artist minted the letter as an NFT titled “A Marvel to behold” and posted it on Opensea Marketplace.  The NFT sold for about $2000 in ETH.

It looks like DC is not alone in this decision, though.  

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In a report released in mid-September, it seems that Marvel comics are taking a similar approach as well. The world’s largest comic book publisher said they did not want artists using Marvel products and IP for their NFT sales. Or,at least not on their own.

The Adventures of Marvel’s NFT

Though Marvel is telling their artists not to use Marvel property for NFTs, Marvel is not completely staying away from NFTs. 

Earlier this year Marvel began a partnership with Orbis Blockchain Technologies Limited and the Veve Digital Collectibles app.  Veve is a mobile-first digital collection platform that users can buy, sell, and trade digital products.  For instance, these digital products including NFTs.

Starting in August, the companies held “Marvel Month” on the VeVe app.  During this month they premiered a series of Spider-Man NFTs, the first Marvel NFT collection.  Later that month they went on to drop Captain American NFTs for the company’s 81st anniversary.  

It seems Marvel hopes to use the VeVe NFT drops as a way to allow their artists to explore NFTs.  They hope to give their creators more opportunities while keeping an amount of control over the use of their IP.

“[Marvel Comics] plans to introduce new opportunities for Marvel creators on Veve’s platform,”

Marvel said in a statement.

Not always this way

It does not seem though that Marvel’s approach to creators and NFTs are loved by everyone. Speaking with members of the industry, Bloomberg editorial spoke to Jason Schachter on the topic.  Schachter is a comic book dealer based in New Jersey.  Schachter lamented that for decades artists were able to sell the originals, without being hassled.  

“Creators have always had the power to sell their originals directly,”

Jason Schachter

It seems that the new NFT technology and its popularity and reach see the companies changing their tune. 

READ  Utah Jazz sells NFTs in just 90 minutes, with it's first ever virtual locker room

Whether the Comic Book titan’s decision is to protect their IP or to lock out their artist for NFTs is unknown.  As both major publishers take their own steps into the world of NFTs, holding back their artists does not seem fair.  At the same time, with the rules around NFT being a sort of wild wild west, they should also have the right to protect themselves.

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