Creators Take Control: How NFTs Revolutionize Art, Business, and Entertainment (Hardcover)
A leading legal scholar offers a compelling new theory to explain the meteoric rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and their impact on art, business, entertainment, and society, and explains how they are revolutionizing our understanding of ownership.
If you buy an NFT, do you own anything? Critics say no. Then why are people spending so much money to own them—to the tune of $27 billion in 2021? And why are big businesses and venture capital firms investing hundreds of millions to develop NFTs for people’s use in the metaverse, a purely imaginary world?
In Creators Take Control, Edward Lee offers a compelling new theory he calls “Tokenism” that answers these perplexing questions. Using vivid examples, Lee lucidly explains how NFTs operate—and how they fundamentally change our understanding of ownership. Tokenism is an artistic, cultural, and technological movement that creates value in a new kind of ownership of a new type of property—symbolized by a virtual token—through a process of technological abstraction and artificial scarcity effectuated by NFTs. Ownership becomes virtual. What Cubism did in radically changing the twentieth-century perspective of creating and viewing art through cubes, Tokenism does today in altering our perspective of owning art and other things through tokens. Both movements radically reimagine what’s possible.
Creators and businesses have seized upon this profound transformation. In a short time, they have developed a new market for digital art, important new rights for creators, innovative business models based on decentralized collaboration, and a new type of interactive ownership that enables identity, community, and patronage through NFTs. These innovations are just the start of revolutionary changes to society. Lee shows how NFTs create a new form of decentralized intellectual property, or De-IP. Comparable to the movement to decentralized finance (DeFi), De-IP empowers creators to take control of their artistic productions and livelihood.
Lee’s intellectual tour de force is filled with practical insights—and hope—for fostering creativity and a Virtual Renaissance for the ages.
About the Author
Edward Lee is a leading legal expert on NFTs and intellectual property. He is a professor of law and codirector of Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Center for Design, Law, and Technology, the first U.S. institution devoted to research of creativity, technology, design, and the law. His website, nouNFT.com, analyzes the latest developments in NFTs. He founded The Free Internet Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to protect Internet freedoms. He is a former contributor to the Huffington Post, and his work has been featured in outlets such as the Washington Post and Billboard. He worked on public-interest litigation as an attorney for Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society. An accomplished photographer, he has shown his works in group exhibitions and art fairs in New York City, Chicago, Miami, Amsterdam, and Dubai. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.
"Forget the hype and hysteria—Web3 and NFTs will provide enormous benefits to artists and commerce. And this book, by on of the Internet's most careful and experienced scholars, shows just how. In a powerful analysis that makes understandable the link between the law of IP and the code of Web3, Lee points to a genuinely productive future that will empower digital creativity far more effectively than IP law alone ever has. This is essential reading for our creative future." — Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School
"This book will forever change the way you think about the creator economy. An eye-opening account of the relationships between artists, businesses, platforms, and consumers, this is the foundational book explaining the sweeping transformations just over the horizon. Ed Lee has written both a warning and a blueprint for a better future." — Amy Webb, author of The Big Nine and The Genesis Machine
"Engagingly written, this is not just a serious argument for the value of NFTs to creators but also a remarkable story about the growth of a whole new type of property. Highly recommended." — Mark A. Lemley, professor, Stanford Law School
"Creators Take Control sends the reader on an exhilarating journey through the dynamic world of artistic and business innovation around digital assets. With a deft blend of vivid examples, technical explanation, and legal analysis, Lee shows that the significance of nun-fungible tokens (NFTs) is not their eye-popping prices; it's the new forms of ownership, organization, and creative activity they enable." — Kevin Werbach, First Pacific Company Professor and Chair, Department of Legal Studies Business Ethics, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
“Creators Take Control taps into the urgent need for mainstream awareness about this fast-growing, fascinating industry.” — Art Plugged
"If you read one book about the NFT space, read this one." — Magnus Resch, Leading Art Market Economist