One of the most common uses of NFTs these days is in the world of gaming. NFTs have fast become in-game collectables, and tradable characters and many of the top gaming companies now invest in NFTs.
But regardless of how new NFTs are to the gaming space, launching projects with them still requires due diligence. One gaming company, MetaGravity Studio, learned this the hard way when they released gaming NFTs in April 2022 that they did not yet have the rights to.
This all started in April 2022 when MetaGravity Studio released a project called Retro Arcade Gaming. This project was comprised of playable NFTs of iconic games. While this is not an unusual practice in the industry, MetaGravity Studio did not get the rights to all the games they were selling.
More specifically, games like Blizzard’s Blackthorne and Remedy’s Death Rally still had their rights in the hands of the original developers who had not given their permission for an NFT sale.
But why did MetaGravity Studio think they could sell such games as NFTs before approval? Well, in one of the announcements, the games being auctioned off were described as freeware or abandonware.
Freeware or abandonware refers to games that were either released for free by their developers into the public domain or have been abandoned by the developers with no updates for a long time. This is somewhat tricky as there are sites that sell these games or offer them to the public as a way of ‘preserving’ them.
The problem with this is that some of these games still have copyright attached to them, regardless of if the developers have not done anything with them for years. There are certainly issues with a company like MetaGravity Studio selling them as NFTs without express consent from their developers.
Shortly after the collection was released on OpenSea, many of them had to be taken down. MetaGravity Studio then announced to Waypoint that it has “removed all the games and changed the NFTs now to mint passes for our upcoming NFT-native retro game.”
Moving forward, the company will focus more on its original gaming content that they have the explicit copyrights to. The saga, however, did become a trending topic in both NFT and gaming circles.
The Case For Copyright
One of the biggest issues facing creators in the NFT space these days is work being minted and sold as NFTs without the consent of their owners. This has happened especially to artists, with even a recent Chinese court ruling having to address the matter.
But as the industry is maturing, these incidents are becoming easier to spot and address immediately. In the case of MetaGravity Studio, this brings to light how important copyright is when minting NFTs, even if the content in question appears to be a free-for-all or abandoned. Hopefully, this leads to fewer instances of copyright infringements in the name of NFTs.