Setting aside the atmospheric dumpster fire that is NFT minting and trading: This is interesting because, like… could WOTC stop this? What if the reference in NFT was just the inventory number of the card in question with no explicit reference to trademarked or copyrighted WOTC content, but everyone participating understood the one-to-one mapping between the NFT and the corresponding card?
Hell, as everyone in this forum surely recalls, linking is not copyright abuse, so even if the NFT payload were a URL for an official WOTC page for a MTG card, would this really violate any of WOTC’s property rights?
[Disclaimer: I still think this is a stupid idea, just questioning the legal merits of WOTC’s complaints. I think it’s a different flavor of thing than the Dune NFT debacle, where the purchasers obviously had no concept of IP law.]
[Further disclaimer: IANAL.]
Throwing spells like there’s no tomorrow.
I’m not sure. Linking itself isn’t copyright infringement but presumably the NFT creators at least think that an NFT is more than a link. Their goal is to create and sell a valuable, tradeable commodity that is based on someone else’s copyrighted work. And clearly the URL is not the whole thing: the intent is that you won’t be able to use just any NFT with the right link, but only the specific NFTs issued by the organization will be allowed for use in conforming tournaments.
So I’m not sure how copyright law would come down on this, but I don’t think “linking isn’t copyright infringement” by itself is enough.
Implicit in the entire purpose of mtgDAO is that the the resulting tokens can be traded and sold. So it’s certainly not just “for personal use”. I can see their argument that it only tracks “the right to use a given card in our tournament” but once you make that a long-lasting valuable and tradeable commodity I don’t think it’s a super compelling argument.
NFTs in general is a scam, just don’t
Really depends on the implementation.
Wizards of the Coast can’t prevent people from playing a tournament that requires you to bring your purchase receipt for each card you play, and depending on how it’s done, I don’t think they can use copyright to prevent NFTs from serving the same purpose. But copyright law is settled in courts, not on social media, so who knows. Wizards of the coast could try to use trademark law though. Again, settled in courts. So, dunno.
" I don’t know shit about copyright law"
-NFT bros everywhere.
Gee, maybe you shouldn’t be even trying to build these kinds of things (without consulting a lawyer) if you know you have no understanding, hmmm? (Are you just hoping to scam some money before the lawyers nuke you from orbit? How’s that working out for you?)
I mean, they already failed on that point. And theoretically, I don’t see how they make a project like this without some explicit reference to the trademarked game. (Plus, the things the NFTs are linking to would have to contain information about the cards, which presumably would not be a link to an official WOTC bit of information.)
I deal with music all the time that has some variation of “you are not allowed to make copies of this” stamped on the front. Which is complete bollocks, and most normal people flat out ignore it while music librarians, who are tasked with knowing and complying with the law, have to negotiate trying to comply while actually getting musicians what they need (a copy to take home to practice, or to manage a page turn, which are legal uses).
Has there been any actual court case or opinion from the copyright office? I’m not aware of any, though I haven’t paid that much attention either. I’d think some douchebro with more money than sense might be willing to pay the law-talking guy to challenge it, but I wouldn’t lay odds on success there.
The only way that an NFT of a Magic card would be meaningful is if it was minted from a wallet owned by Wizards of the Coast. So even inside their own ‘code is law’ framework this makes no sense.
I was originally excited about the potential of NFTs in the way it could track provenance and benefit artists. But the more I learn, the more clear it is that it is 100% incapable of that in any meaningful way.
Oh yeah, no question about that. But in principle, if they had avoided directly suggesting an affiliation to WOTC property, even if it was obvious to everyone – would WOTC be able to do anything about it?
I don’t know shit about copyright law, so I’m trying not to discuss it much, but I’ll tell you that mtgDAO NFTs being IP infringement is not intuitive to me.
One of the core troubles of technologists doing law is they think they can cogitate their way into an understanding of the system. Works on software, so obviously everything behaves this way! But that’s not how law works.
This bunch of thieving and ignorant Libertarian crypto “tycoons” probably also planned to revive Mt.GOX to evoke the early glory days of their incompetence and scamming.
Another huge misconception these morons have is that since it is a DAO controlling it and not one single person, no one is liable for copyright infringement or even illegality. What they fail to understand is that civil forfeiture law allows the government to go after the money itself. And that would be one of the few cases where that would be appropriate.
This isn’t just a copyright issue, but a trademark issue - which is what really bites them in the ass, I’d say. As soon as they started talking about what this was for, they were talking about MtG and ran afoul of trademark issues. I think, if they continued, they necessarily would also have run into copyright issues as well, making them doubly screwed.
I’m not sure it’s ultimately possible. They could set up their system such that it’s generically about “collectible card games” (wink wink) and never say the names of any specific products, but I suspect, if that worked, once users started talking about MtG, the trademark issue would crop up. Plus, I don’t see how you do the NFTs of specific cards without linking to some sort of representation of that actual card. Those representations would either be something WOTC is hosting (unlikely), or some third party (now you’ve got copyright issues). If you managed to never mention the name, prevent users from mentioning the name, and link only to official WOTC resources to represent each card… I think you still have trademark issues, because by linking to WOTC files, you’ve made it explicitly clear your service can’t exist without being built directly on top of copyrighted and trademarked IP.
So yeah, I don’t see a way around it, unless you could somehow make everything so completely generic that at no point does anything reference or link to any WOTC IP, that even the card representations that the NFTs link to are abstracted such that there’s no reference to the real cards (not sure how you do that). But in that case, they wouldn’t get the interest/funding that they’re obviously getting by explicitly referencing MtG…
I sure hope it never makes it to the courts. Win or lose, somehow NFTs are further legitimized (or at least publicized).
mtgGAO wins: “Yeah NFTs are awesome!”
mtgGAO loses: “See, NFTs really are bound to the original work, by law!”
I mean, either it’s a copy or it isn’t. Clearly the NFT folk think it is, which is the point, following their logic, they’re asking people to make a copy of their cards, then also bring their cards to events. Their own logic should make it clear that’s a no-no. The only way this works is if it isn’t a copy, in which case - NFTs aren’t what they say they are, anyway.
Love many of the replies to the original twitter posts, but this one is gold: