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CC0 NFTs - Genius or Stupidity?

"What is CC0, and what does this have to do with NFTs?" This seems to be the number one conversation in the NFT community ever since Moonbirds was released into the public domain by its creator, Kevin Rose.

NFTs are known for granting holders exclusive ownership rights to digital assets. It's one of the main features that has sustained successful collections like Moonbirds until now.

As CC0 NFTs, Moonbird holders give up these rights, allowing anyone to use their PFPs for commercial or personal purposes. How can this be right?

In this article, we'll explore the connection between CC0 and NFTs to see if it made sense for Moonbirds (or any other collection) to enter the public domain.


Table of Content

#1 - WTF is CC0 NFT?

#2 - CC0 and NFT - Two Sides of a Coin?

#3 - CC0 NFTs Might Just Be What the WEB3 Doctor Ordered

#4 - Putting Moonbirds into Perspective - Is CC0 The Right Choice?

#5 - Final Thoughts



We'll start with the CC0 NFT meaning. CC0 means Creative Commons - no rights reserved. The CC0 license allows creators to release works into the public domain without any conditions. This means that anyone can use your work, whichever way they choose, without attributing you as the creator or holder.

Moonbirds isn't the first NFT collection to adopt a CC0 license. Successful collections like CryptoToadz, NounsDAO, and the most recent GoblinTown are notable CC0 NFT projects.


CC0 and NFT - Two Sides of a Coin?

Bringing CC0 and NFTs together creates a counterintuitive situation. For one, NFT IP rights bring scarcity and profitability to the table. Two good examples are the Cryptoskulls and Bored Apes commercial rights, granting holders exclusive licensing rights to their specific NFT.

The BAYC commercial rights allow holders to partner with commercial entities that want to use their specific PFP for commercial ventures. This has brought about many lucrative ventures like the Bored Wine Co. that turns your Bored Ape into a unique label on a vintage wine.

However, CC0 NFTs have the opposite effect. With CC0, there is no exclusivity granted to holders. Putting a huge project like Moonbirds in the public domain means that all of the original art in the collection could be used freely by anyone. However, it also means that Moonbird owners lose control over how their PFPs are used.

It might seem like a contradiction at first glance, but there's actually a reason why CC0 NFTs exist. They're designed to solve problems faced by traditional copyright licenses.


CC0 NFTs Might Just Be What the Web3 Doctor Ordered

Using a CC0 license for your NFT project has many advantages, like boosting brand recognition. If your NFTs are public and not protected by copyright, they can help get the word out about your project and increase its worth.

Another positive side of CC0 NFTs is that it relieves you of the legal and practical burdens associated with IP theft, as there is literally nothing to steal. NotAnother NFT believes the Moonbird team is most likely trying to capitalize on these two angles.

Plus, many projects that have embraced a CCO license have done well in terms of recognition and revenue. Take GoblinTown, one of 2022’s most inspiringly cheeky collections. The project's CC0 license led to a boom of similar efforts.

Astonishingly, on June 2, 2022, GoblinTown copycat projects accounted for 43.7% of OpenSea's entire trading volume, having only been listed a few days prior. The project itself made over $24m in sales despite being a free mint. One of the greatest strategies to succeed in the NFT ecosystem is to gain cultural importance, and a CC0 license is a great way to achieve just that.

Another example is NounsDAO, one of the first CC0 NFT collections. Nouns DAO members voted on suggestions for community usage of NFTs. They approved initiatives including a partnership with Budweiser, a documentary release, a coffee brand's launch, and financial help for refugees in Ukraine.

What is the end result? As of 22 August 2022, the Nouns DAO Treasury held 21,876 ETH, almost $38 million at the time of writing. The huge success of the project makes a strong case for the benefits of CC0 licensing.


Putting Moonbirds into Perspective - Is CC0 The Right Choice?

Kevin Rose's announcement was met with mixed reactions from community members and the general NFT space. Some were excited about the news, while others felt that CC0 NFTs were a bad choice, especially since there was no prior consultation with holders.

Speaking on the impact of CC0 NFTs, popular NFT thought leader and collector Pranksy mentioned that owning a collection under a CC0 license wasn't different from right-clicking and saving it to his computer.

Pranksy's point is that projects that started in the public domain differed from exclusive collections that later switched. The reason is that collectors may have been drawn to Moonbirds due to this exclusivity, and taking that away from them without prior consultation with the community would be unfair. The exclusive club no longer feels so exclusive.

The move also adversely affected the Moonbirds community as the floor price dropped nearly 9% after the announcement. Moonbird holder and web3 founder Lakoz.eth mentioned that he also lost a 6 figure licensing deal due to the CC0 move.


Final Thoughts

I personally believe Moonbirds is making a good decision by choosing a CC0 license for their NFTs. The Moonbird team is doing what they feel is best for the project and the community.

The only part that didn't sit well with me was the lack of prior consultation with the community. However, I do understand why the Moonbird team made this decision. Given the recent market conditions, a CC0 license may help Moonbirds increase its value and popularity, leading to renewed mass adoption.

We can only wait for the coming months to see how things play out.


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