In an auction held in November 2021, a collective of cryptocurrency enthusiasts, called SpiceDAO, pooled together US$3 million and purchased a rare copy of the story bible for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s legendary movie adaptation of the Dune novel, written by Frank Herbert, that was never made.
It is a staggering amount, especially when the book was expected to go for less than US$30,000. However, SpiceDAO seems to have confused ownership of the book with obtaining the rights to the intellectual property (IP).
On Twitter, the collective stated its desire to make the book public, produce an original animated series and sell it to a streaming service, and support projects derived from the book. Unfortunately, just the ownership of the book doesn’t give the collective the rights to do any of that. On the SpiceDAO forums, a user even outlined a plan to convert the individual pages of the book into JPGs, and make them into a NFT collection. The next step in the plan involves burning the physical copy of the book so that only the JPGs will remain.
This plan is already moot though, because many pages in the book are already publicly available on Google Photos.
The confusing and at times inscrutable nature of cryptocurrencies and NFTs makes it hard to know what one can and cannot do with them. But, one thing is for certain. Ownership of a book doesn’t come with the copyright or IP rights, not even if the individual pages are attached to NFTs. For those who’d like to learn more about NFTs, we have a primer on NFTs that will catch you up to speed.