the urgency of ensuring new uses

The emergence of new technologies constantly questions the legal environment of creation and its ecosystem. This has been the case in recent years, with non-fungible tokens (JNF), better known by their English acronym NFT (for non-fungible tokens),

It is true that, apart from the contemporary art market, these tokens are still far from having found a place in the world of everyday culture and even less in public cultural services.

However “the wait is […] more than ever a necessity in order not to make spaces appear and develop in which law no longer fulfills its function, thus leading to the destruction of economic and cultural values, often lasting and considerable “, underlines Maître Jean Martin, president of the mission on non-tokens. fungible, whose report, commissioned in November 2021 by the Superior Council for Literary and Artistic Heritage (CSPLA) was presented last July.

Non-fungible tokens and inalienability of public collections

Some applications are beginning to emerge in internationally renowned museums. In the mission letter addressed to Maître Jean Martin, Olivier Japot, president of the CSPLA he cites as an example “the Russian Hermitage Museum [qui] offered in the form of NFT the Madonna Litta by Leonardo da Vinci, the lilacs by Vincent Van Gogh, or the Corner of the Montgeron garden by Claude Monet.

The phenomenon of non-fungible tokens “raises important and new legal issues relating to both the intellectual property and the technology used, relating to the originality of the work thus” tokenized “, the ownership of rights and their management methods, the application of this technology to public collections that are characterized by their inalienability ”, emphasizes Olivier Japot in particular.

Ensure a balanced and safe framework for the use of NFTs

In his report, the mission on non-fungible tokens evokes the “significant opportunities for the development of cultural activities offered by these” unidentified legal objects “, for both public and private actors” (see box).

But he sees a prerequisite for the dissemination of these “digital rights certificates”: “a work common to all” to develop “guidelines of good practices that guarantee a balanced and safe framework for the various uses of the” NFT “, with a perspective their essential role in this new expanding economic and cultural space that are the “metavers”. “

At this stage, the rapporteurs do not provide concrete recommendations. On the other hand, they review the points that this “common work” will have to consider. This marking the ground leads them to examine the opportunities that non-fungible tokens present for culture, as well as their potential dangers, and to outline the many avenues of reflection.

Potentials affecting all cultural sectors

The cultural uses of non-fungible tokens are not limited to digital art. Far from it. These are cinema, music, publishing, photography, audiovisual, museums and, more generally, public cultural institutions, underline the authors of the report of the mission led by Maître Jean Martin. In all of these sectors, “JNFs are likely to enable better promotion of cultural products to new audiences, strengthen communities of use, and thereby offer the sector new sources of income, generating new potential for creation.”

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