Manatt entertainment transactions and finance Leader Jordan Bromley, fintech Leader Brian Korn and entertainment Partner Sophia Yen spoke with The American Lawyer on how the entertainment industry is utilizing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the associated intellectual property (IP) implications. The publication noted that Manatt’s presence in Los Angeles lends itself to an NFT client base beyond artists, musicians and athletes to include platforms as well as IP rights-holders. Bromley shared that since the first time he heard the term NFT in 2019, artist clients, including music and visual artists, have begun engaging with them. The publication highlighted intellectual property issues surrounding NFT transfers, particularly because smart contracts—executed via blockchain and self-executing—aren’t easily reversed. “There are traditional courts for traditional contracts, but no conventional court is able to handle a smart contract, which does what it’s asked to do but doesn’t have the ability to ask if I can do that,” Korn said.
The American Lawyer added that despite NFTs’ precariousness, legal observers cite they have staying power. Yen explained she believes “gold rush” is an apt description for the current fervor, noting that wealthy clients who’ve made money elsewhere and previously invested in films are now asking her about these assets. “Like a gold rush, there’s a lot of people who will hit big, and a lot of others who will walk away empty-handed,” she said.
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