Can you add new rights to an existing NFT?

Amberfi engaged the services of Lance Koonce of a leading Web3 intellectual law firm, Klaris, to answer questions from members of the community.   

Have a question about digital collectibles and the law? Let us know and your question may be answered in a future column. Ask the Attorney appears Wednesdays in Amberfi.


Q: Can someone who bought an NFT add a different set of licensing rights to an existing NFT that apply to the next buyer?


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A: That’s a really interesting theoretical question. I think you could probably do it right now if you if you chose to do so. I haven’t really seen that come up as something I’ve had to address in my law practice.


There’s not anything necessarily preventing it in most cases. From the creator’s point of view, if you create an NFT it consists of a token plus content plus a license. The token has metadata fields that often contain a link to a page on the Internet somewhere where the rights information and terms of the license may be located. Most NFT marketplaces don’t offer licenses that live on chain as part of the NFT proper. 


Keep in mind, on a lot of the open platforms, you have information that you can put into the sales page that may not really be found in the underlying token in the metadata. So you could potentially say on your sales page when you’re reselling an NFT that someone had originally said, “This content can be used for these 10 things.” Someone could say in the resale, “This content can only be used for these five things,” thus restricting the permissions allowed.


It probably wouldn’t work the other way because it would be hard to expand the use, because the person who got the first license doesn’t really own those rights. But they could try it. They can put language in there that says, I’m now giving you this content for use however and wherever you want, and I’m charging a lot more money for it. I don’t think that would fly – in my view, you can’t take an NFT with a noncommercial license and suddenly grant commercial rights. That would pose a conflict and a legal issue that someone would have to resolve.


Image at top: David Clode/Unsplash


Editor’s note: This is another in a series about NFTs and the law. Check out our blog for additional articles on the subject that will appear each week. Listen to our podcast episode with Lance Koonce on these topics here.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this Web page does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information and content on this page are for general informational purposes only. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter, and you should not act nor refrain from acting on the basis of information on this site without first seeking legal advice from an attorney in the relevant jurisdiction.

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