“With the rise in popularity of NFTs, it is expected that we will see a number of trademark, design and copyright infringements and passing off claims, as well as the spending of significant sums of money on potentially worthless purchases. In this case, Spice DAO purchased an original copy of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s notes, concepts and artworks for Dune for $3 million in the mistaken belief that it also gave them the copyright to such materials.
Spice DAO were hoping to produce an original animated series based on the book, as well as making the book public. Had they done their research, as well as speaking to an IP lawyer, they would have realised that not only is the book publicly available in any case, the copyright does not belong to them. Copyright is an automatic right that arises once a work, in this case the book, notes, artwork etc, is created and subsists in the author of that work (there are some exceptions – i.e., if it is created by an employee during the course of employment).
For Spice DAO to own the copyright, they would need a signed copyright assignment explicitly transferring the right from the author (or copyright owner if this has been transferred previously) to them. Simply purchasing the NFT does not entitle them to the copyright. For those looking to purchase an NFT in the future for similar reasons, serious consideration should be given to what exactly is being purchased.”