Lee on Licenses for CryptoPunks NFTs

Edward Lee (Chicago-Kent College of Law) has posted “The Cryptic Case of the CryptoPunks Licenses: The Mystery Over the Licenses for CryptoPunks NFTs” on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The CryptoPunks NFT collection, produced by Larva Labs, is the highest-grossing NFT collection to date. Sales have surpassed $1.6 billion. That figure is all the more astounding given that Larva Labs gave away all 10,000 CryptoPunks NFTs for free in 2017. Christie’s has described the CryptoPunks as “the alpha and omega of the CyptoArt movement.” Adding to their mystique is a legal mystery: What content license governs the use of the CryptoPunks artwork and characters? Shockingly, Larva Labs distributed the 10,000 CryptoPunks NFTs without any written content license in 2017. Apparently, one of the Larva Labs co-founders John Watkinson later adopted the open-source NFT License in 2019 to apply to the CryptoPunks NFTs. But that adoption was in a chat on Discord, a social media platform. Mysteriously, Larva Labs has not officially adopted the NFT License in the Terms and Conditions for the CryptoPunks NFTs on its website. This Article dissects the cryptic case of the CryptoPunks licenses.