Creators Take Control: How NFTs Revolutionize Art, Business and Entertainment

From the publisher:

A leading legal scholar offers a compelling new theory to explain the meteoric rise of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and their impact on art, business, entertainment and society and explains how they are revolutionizing our understanding of ownership.

If you buy an NFT, do you own anything? Critics say no. Then why are people spending so much money to own them—to the tune of $27 billion in 2021? And why are big businesses and venture capital firms investing hundreds of millions to develop NFTs for people’s use in the metaverse, a purely imaginary world?

In Creators Take Control, Edward Lee ’92 offers a compelling new theory he calls “Tokenism” that answers these perplexing questions. Using vivid examples, Lee lucidly explains how NFTs operate—and how they fundamentally change our understanding of ownership. Tokenism is an artistic, cultural and technological movement that creates value in a new kind of ownership of a new type of property—symbolized by a virtual token—through a process of technological abstraction and artificial scarcity effectuated by NFTs. Ownership becomes virtual. What Cubism did in radically changing the 20th-century perspective of creating and viewing art through cubes, Tokenism does today in altering our perspective of owning art and other things through tokens. Both movements radically reimagine what’s possible.

Creators and businesses have seized upon this profound transformation. In a short time, they have developed a new market for digital art, important new rights for creators, innovative business models based on decentralized collaboration and a new type of interactive ownership that enables identity, community and patronage through NFTs. These innovations are just the start of revolutionary changes to society. Lee shows how NFTs create a new form of decentralized intellectual property, or De-IP. Comparable to the movement to decentralized finance (DeFi), De-IP empowers creators to take control of their artistic productions and livelihood.

Lee’s intellectual tour de force is filled with practical insights—and hope—for fostering creativity and a Virtual Renaissance for the ages.