Creators Take Control

How NFTs Revolutionize Art, Business, and Entertainment

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 paying millions of dollars 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 world that is purely imaginary? In Creators Take Control, Edward Lee vividly explains how NFTs operate—and how they fundamentally change our understanding of ownership. Using easy-to-understand examples, he unpacks the complex arrangement of NFTs to show the power they offer to creators. Under this mind-bending arrangement, NFT buyers typically own virtual tokens (unique lines of code stored on blockchain), not the art or content associated with the NFT. So why would anyone pay so much money for just a token?

Lee offers a compelling new theory he calls “Tokenism” that answers this perplexing question. Tokenism is an artistic, cultural, and technological movement that creates value and a new kind of ownership in property—symbolized by a virtual token—through a process of technological abstraction and artificial scarcity effectuated by NFTs. As Cubism did in the twentieth century, Tokenism topples the traditional view of perspective—but now with respect to ownership. Tokenism ushers in a radically new approach to ownership, fitting our increasingly immaterial world in which our presence and interactions are virtual. Creators and businesses have seized upon this profound transformation to develop innovative business models and a new type of interactive ownership through NFTs—which offer vast potential for engagement, community, patronage, and decentralized collaboration. Through NFTs, creators can take back control of their artistic productions—and forge a Virtual Renaissance for the ages.

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