Some crypto enthusiasts apparently thought owning a book was owning the rights to it

As in a physical printed copy of a book? Dang, that is naive.


This would be akin to Pharma Bro thinking he could print and sell 1,000,000 copies of the Wu-Tang album he bought that was clearly not reproducible like that.


I’m still not sure how much of this is good-faith naivety on his part, and how much is a scam. (It’s unclear to me if the money raised might just have been enough to pay him back and the rest is sitting there, unable to be used for its stated purposes…) There are a lot of scammers here, but based on interviews, he might not be one of them.

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Past observation of humanity suggests, from my limited well of experience, that the simplest answer to any question involving humans is ‘stupidity’ and Occam’s Razor points there today.

There is a twitter threaded linked in the post that examines stupid vs scam.




Best reaction to this story I saw so far:

"Anyone who’s interested in investing in NFTs, I offer you this time-saving option:

1). Withdraw your life savings from your bank accounts in cash, and provide me with your home address

2). I’ll take the cash and kick you in the nuts

The end result for you is the same as if you invested in NFTs - but I get cash, and you can recognize your mistake immediately!"


Yep, they bought a copy of a rare book. One of apparently twenty or so copies in existence, but they spent ten a hundred times more than it was worth, which suggests they thought they were buying more than just a physical book.


that’s slightly less bad – though still terrible – than i originally thought. my first impression was that they had bought an nft of the book :sob:


Given how Disney is treating the original authors (who retain copyright) of the expanded Star Wars universe, it wouldn’t surprise me if they honestly thought they could get away with this. (If you’re unaware, Disney decided that since they own the Star Wars franchise, they owned the copyrights on all the expanded universe novels, and stopped paying the authors. The lawsuit is ongoing, and probably will be until the last author dies of old age – a win for Disney.)


Sometimes this works. The 19th century San Francisco eccentric “Emperor” Norton made his own money which was sometimes accepted at various SF establishments. And now, of course, surviving examples are worth far more than their stated amounts.


I’ve been wading through the twitter threads and various articles and it sounds like at least some people associated with this project do understand that they don’t own the copyright and can’t just go putting it up on the internet or making animated series. I don’t think most of the community that put money (or crypto or whatever) in to this understand that, but someone does. But I think they have wildly underestimated the copyright morass that exists here. Just off the top of my head, I would expect (at least) the following groups to have a possible copyright interest in this pitchbook: Frank Herbert’s estate, HR Giger’s estate, a book publishing house (or multiple book publishing houses), Warner Bros (who likely has some sort of exclusive license to use Dune IP) and a smattering of other artists or contributors or their estates.

Based on the publicity this has received and the fact that some of the project leaders have been interviewed under their real names, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve already started receiving letters from Warner Bros’ lawyers bluntly reminding them of how copyright law works. Warner Bros didn’t just spend $165M making a Dune movie so that some crypto bros could ride their coattails.


If any of you right click these freely available pictures of the book and make NFTs of the images I will be sad.


My question is who else was bidding to get it up that high and did they have similar aspirations?

So, who does this copyright of this work belong to? My understanding is, this was a very very small, basically custom made run put together by people involved in the pre-production of the film. So is it the film company who owns it? The rights holder of Dune? Is it both?

If only one entity owns the rights, it probably would be doable to get the rights released for an authorized reprinting of the book. Would that make money? I dunno. As others pointed out all or most of the book has been photographed (albeit not well) and posted online. But given the big name artists involved, there would be interest in a printed book to hold and turn the pages, IMO. Owning the book just gives one the reference material to make scans etc. But it certainly doesn’t guarantee the rights holders would go along.

If there is more than one entity that owns the rights - projects like that rarely get done.

ETA - hell, the art could be copyright by the artists as well, which would make this project nigh impossible or very very expensive.


I’m guessing it’s more than one. I don’t work in entertainment law (and I definitely didn’t work in entertainment law almost 5 decades ago) so I don’t know what the industry norm is for these things. But this was meant as a pitchbook. A very limited number of copies were made, for a specific purpose, with a limited audience, at a time when making and distributing copies of things was hard. It was not meant to be a commercial product on its own that would be widely distributed. So it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the copyright issues were not carefully thought through or at least not carefully documented or even if they were, they would only have been concerned with obtaining the rights needed to accomplish the limited goal of producing something for a few studio execs to read privately. I would be shocked if all the rights needed to produce a commercial work based on this pitchbook were all packaged up neat and tidy.


“Making the book public”. . . .

Oh man, you mean the copy I read at the local library is a bootleg?

All the words were the same but somehow I feel cheated.


I keep thinking there must be more to NFTs, but I just don’t see it. I certainly like Keanu Reeve’s reaction to Matrix Resurrection NFTs.


A million years ago I worked at Kinko’s and am pretty sure a very high percentage of the population thinks once they’ve bought a physical copy of some media they think they own the copyright. Explaining it got exhausting.


I believe there is a scanned version of it online as well.

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You mean your Kinko’s actually stopped people from photocopying textbooks? If so, yours was the only one that did – that was pretty much the business model they had in the 1980s and 1990s. I hear the kids these days find PDFs online instead.


The concept of “value” has come a long way since barter.

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