The source code for the World Wide Web has sold as an NFT for $5.4 million (£3.92 million), making it one of the most expensive NFTs in history. Sold by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the Web, the NFT included a package with the source code, an animated video of the code being written, a poster created by Berners-Lee himself, and a letter, alongside a certificate to verify ownership.
As with all NFTs, however, while the buyer does have exclusive ownership to the "digital original" of whatever they are buying, they do not own copyright and distribution rights to the content.
The sale was a surprise move to many, as Berners-Lee has never sought to profit off the browser, which was launched in 1991 and discontinued in 1994. Famously, no patent was filed for the source code, which entered the public domain in 1993.
Berners-Lee states that the funds raised by the auction, which was done through the online auction house Sothebys, will go towards initiatives that he and his wife, Rosemary Leith, support.
An NFT, or non-fungible token, is a digital certificate of ownership that lives within a blockchain, similar to cryptocurrency. As the world becomes ever more orientated towards online goods, NFTs have become immensely popular for often anonymous investors to pour high prices into. Experts have criticized NFTs, calling them terrible for the environment (owing to the mining of digital tokens that is involved), while others believe they are simply get-rich-quick schemes.
Regardless, many clearly still believe in their worth, with the most expensive NFT to date selling for an exorbitant $69 million (£50 million). With prices so high and people willing to pay, it is perhaps understandable that Berners-Lee wished to sell the original sourcecode to donate to worthy causes.