CREATORS TAKE CONTROL: How NFTs Revolutionize Art, Business, and Entertainment By Edward Lee
If you buy an NFT, do you own anything? Critics say no. Then why are people paying millions of dollars 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 world that is purely imaginary? In Creators Take Control, Professor Edward Lee vividly explains how NFTs operate—and how they fundamentally change our understanding of ownership. Using easy-to-understand examples, he unpacks the complex arrangement of NFTs to show the power they offer to creators. Under this mind-bending arrangement, NFT buyers typically own virtual tokens (unique lines of code stored on blockchain), not the art or content associated with the NFT. So why would anyone pay so much money for just a token?
Lee offers a compelling new theory he calls “Tokenism” that answers this perplexing question. Tokenism is an artistic, cultural, and technological movement that creates value and a new kind of ownership in property symbolised by a virtual token through a process of technological abstraction and artificial scarcity effectuated by NFTs. As Cubism did in the twentieth century, Tokenism topples the traditional view of perspective but now with respect to ownership. Tokenism ushers in a radically new approach to ownership, fitting our increasingly immaterial world in which our presence and interactions are virtual.
Creators and businesses have seized upon this profound transformation to develop innovative business models and a new type of interactive ownership through NFTs which offer vast potential for engagement, community, patronage, and decentralised collaboration. Through NFTs, creators can take back control of their artistic productions—and forge a Virtual Renaissance for the ages. Lee has interviewed key individuals for the book, including the cofounder of Nike’s RTFKT Benoit Pagotto, the artist Krista Kim, the photographer Justin Aversano, Betty, the co-creator of the Deadfellaz project, and more. NFTs, cryptocurrencies, and the metaverse are here to stay but they are also infamously misunderstood, just as modern art initially was. Creators Take Control taps into the urgent need for mainstream awareness about this fast-growing, fascinating industry.
A leading legal expert on NFTs, Edward Lee is a professor of Law and co-director of Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Centre for Design, Law, and Technology, the first U.S. institution devoted to research of creativity, technology, design, and the law. He is also the founder of the nonprofit The Free Internet Project, which analyses developments related to Internet freedoms and preserving the free and open Internet. His popular website, Nou NFT (nouNFT.com), analyses the latest news, controversies, and developments in NFTs. He is a sought-after speaker on NFTs. He spoke about his theory of NFTs as decentralised intellectual property at NFT.NYC 2022, the largest conference on NFTs in the world. A former contributor to the Huffington Post, Lee’s writing on topic related to the Internet, copyright, and pop culture has also been featured in outlets such as The Washington Post and Billboard.
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