A16z Wants to Standardize NFTs by Giving You a License for Your Token

Andreessen Horowitz's crypto arm is releasing a free licensing system, aiming to help the NFT sector fulfill its "economic potential."

AccessTimeIconAug 31, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 6:50 p.m. UTC

Non-fungible tokens (NFT) have a licensing problem, and Andreessen Horowitz's (a16z) crypto arm thinks it has an answer.

The firm wants to establish some industry standards for how NFTs can be used by offering a lawyer-vetted array of free licensing options in an approach similar to Creative Commons. Confusion abounds around intellectual property rights in these tokens.

Some issuers have already turned to Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that set up free copyright licensing to help creators share their work, but other NFT efforts have left their status murky. As a wave of no-rights-reserved projects have emerged, a16z argues an urgent need for clarity on how owners can use NFTs and give others permission to use them.

“There is kind of a wildly broad spectrum of approaches that people are taking,” said Miles Jennings, general counsel at a16z. “Greater standardization around the industry will help unleash the economic potential of that sector of the industry.”

His firm – as explained in a Wednesday blog post from Jennings and Chris Dixon, an Andreessen Horowitz managing partner who founded its crypto arm – is releasing “a set of free, public ‘Can’t Be Evil’ licenses, designed specifically for NFTs and inspired by the work of Creative Commons.” The company hired lawyers to help outline several levels of licensing, and the language is provided on GitHub for those who want to adopt it.

While standardized licensing has been attempted in the past, including by Dapper Labs, creator of CryptoKitties, the sector hasn’t yet settled into any consistent approach. That’s an ongoing source of legal uncertainty that plagues users and investors, including firms such as a16z.


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Jesse Hamilton

Jesse Hamilton is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for global policy and regulation. He doesn't hold any crypto.

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