Settle in for one of the stupidest stories of the crypto generation: Oz from Buffy The Vampire Slayer's NFT of a monkey has been stolen, leaving people speculating whether he owns the rights to the monkey's image, which he was to use as a character in an upcoming TV show.
If that sentence didn't make sense to you, we applaud your ability to completely avoid the area of the Internet containing grown adults bragging about owning a token that proves they own a JPG of a monkey. Let's recap.
Earlier this month, Seth Green announced on Twitter that several of his Bored Ape NFTs had been stolen.
He saw that a Twitter user "DarkWing84" had bought the NFT, and asked if they could meet. The problem, he said, is that he thought he "was minting GutterCat clones," adding that the "phishing link looked clean". If that sentence doesn't make sense to you, I recommend you keep it that way, sparing yourself an NFT rabbit hole from which there is no return.
The important part, according to some speculators and news outlets, is that when the NFT was stolen, the intellectual property rights may have gone with it. Purchasers of the Bored Ape NFTs Green bought are given a broad agreement that grants them intellectual property rights, and the right to make derivative products of the art. This could be a problem for Seth Green's TV show, as it is based on one of the Bored Apes he had purchased.
“I bought that ape in July 2021, and have spent the last several months developing and exploiting the IP to make it into the star of this show,” Green said in an interview. “Then days before – his name is Fred by the way – days before he’s set to make his world debut, he’s literally kidnapped.”
If this is the case, it would follow that when the Ape's thief took it, they also took the property rights, sort of like how in Harry Potter winning a wand in combat gives you ownership of that wand. If they have the intellectual property rights, in theory, they could sue Green for intellectual property theft for the TV show. As absurd as this sounds, is it likely that they would win? In short, no.
"Nemo dat quod non habet," tech lawyer at law firm Anderson Kill, Preston Byrne wrote on Twitter. "The thief doesn't get good title to Seth Green's IP, nor does anyone who buys it from said thief with notice."
Seth Green's show based on a now-kidnapped picture of a monkey may be able to press ahead, for better or worse.