With their indifferent, detached expressions, the 10,000 members of the Bored Ape Yacht Club look, well, bored. But there is great excitement in the billion-dollar market for these digital images, which were launched in April 2021 and count singers Justin Bieber and Madonna among their celebrity owners.
When actor Seth Green paid $200,000 to purchase Bored Ape NFT #8398 – a.k.a., Fred Simian –the deal included licensing rights, and Green created a television show to feature Fred. Then just weeks ago, Fred went missing.
In the past week, Green revealed that Fred Simian is home, yet the strange, twisted tale of a Bored Ape has many more turns left, involving copyright law, cryptocurrency, and blockchain code.
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“The purported license of usage rights was conveyed by means of a blockchain smart contract, and the terms and conditions say that your ownership of this ape and these rights that we are extending to you is entirely mediated by a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain,” Sweeting explains.
“Well, a smart contract isn’t really a contract – a smart contract is simply a bit of self-executing code. It’s not the equivalent of a contract of sale or a license contract that is written down by lawyers and signed by both parties and notarized,” he says. “So when you purchase a Bored Ape, and it purports to convey you these rights, it’s not at all clear that a smart contract can do that in a legal sense that the courts would recognize.”