Onchain CC0 IP as Hyper-Efficient Culture Legos

From Money to Culture Legos

Popular among those emersed in DeFi narrative-driven meme-making, the term “Money Legos” is used to easily visualize the first principle of composability. It maps a seemingly unapproachable subject for most noobs, decentralized apps (dApps) built on blockchain rails) onto something almost every 4-year-old understands (Legos). Onchain composability isn’t restricted to moneyness, some of the best examples of onchain composability are non-financial. It applies to anything built with the intention to be combined in a way that is independent but also can function seamlessly together.

I am, as you might have guessed based on the title of this piece, talking about public domain intellectual property and the user-generated content (UGC) that has been and will be created using it.

Just as financial protocols on the blockchain can be pieced together like Legos to create new, innovative financial products, CC0 IP assets can be combined, modified, and built upon to tell new stories, reach different audiences, build new worlds, and churn out the next generation of dank memes.

CC0 IP is the most future-proof and exponentially growing horse in the race.

How does this Lego structure map itself onto onchain CC0 IP?

  • The Base Layer (The Blockchain)

    • Where the sausage gets made. There is no onchain IP without the chain itself. The base layer is identical to that in the “money Lego” example.

      Having your IP on something as hardened as an immutable ledger gives that IP a certain “content permanence.” I know A wallet signed B transaction in C block, that’s the original. I also see that X wallet signed Y transaction in Z block at a later time, that’s the derivative.

  • CC0 IP Assets

    • The ERC-20 token standard maps pretty obviously onto his less fungible sibling token standards ERC-721 and ERC-1155 and their non-Ethereum equivalents. This is where the first instance of IP tends to take place, be it within a 10k PFP collection like mfers, or a 1 of 1 like Grant Riven Yun’s “Cow.”
  • Content Platforms and Derivative Works

    • Once the IP has been thought up, put onchain, and placed into the public domain - if the IP resonates with people, the IP will be reimagined in different styles and mediums at a rate a centralized entity could not keep up with. A process which not too long ago I dubbed “the mfer effect.”

Below is one (there are many) concrete example of the “mfer effect” and the culture Lego thesis playing out.

Vitalik Creates Ethereum → ERC-721 Token Standard is created → Sartoshi creates the 10k PFP collection “mfers” → Heresmy creates “mfer avatars” → mfers are playable characters in the newly launched UGC-focused game “Nifty Island” → another mfer builds an island that reached the top 50 in global popularity

Many such cases.

Luca is Mr. Beast. We all mfers.

“No! Look at Pudgy Penguins! You’re shilling your bag the only model for an NFT collection to be successful and reach a broader audience is to do what Pudgy Penguins is doing!”

Luca Netz who is in a league of his own and an absolute fucking monster, along with Pudgy Penguins are the exception, not the rule, and even he saw the value in tapping into the Nouns community (one of the most well-known CC0 NFT IPs) when he proposed a collab.

Below see the two short films produced by CC0 Studios. Here you can see the blending of multiple onchain CC0 IPs in one animated world. A living onchain reflection of the culture legos we mentioned to begin.

Here is another example of the “mfer effect” and the culture Lego thesis playing out in the second film above:

Vitalik Creates Ethereum → ERC-721 Token Standard is Created → Sartoshi Creates the 10k PFP collection “mfers” → Studio TBD makes an mfer inspired THC product “mini mellow mfers” → CC0 Studios produces crypto-native CC0 IP → Studio TBD and CC0 Studios hop on a call and drum up a positive sum idea where mini mellow mfers will be featured in the latest CC0 Studios short film and CC0 Studios will be given an affiliate link and take X% of sales generated through said link…

Here it is if you’re feeling spicy 👉 tbdshop.io?aff=9

Our first test render of Studio TBD's "mellow mini mfers"
Our first test render of Studio TBD's "mellow mini mfers"

Hyperefficiency of Onchain Public Domain IP

Why is onchain CC0 IP hyper-efficient?

CC0 IP is Hard to Kill

  • Even with a great key man comes key man risk. A concept, mleejr described well in a tweet one time…

    “mfers have no ceo, ruler, or king…no key man risk. mfers dont have centralized entity execution risk…meaning there isnt a company calling the shots about what to do and build with mfers.. mfers are the utility…its like a cryptopunk but you can build whatever you want with it.”

    Most well-known art in the public domain gets its IP designation from copyright expiration but if that story, painting, character, or meme, was initially placed in the public domain, the proliferation would get a giant head start.

    If initially placed in the public domain, the art itself is less connected to any potential negative actions from the artist. This is especially notable in the crypto space where people love to over-promise and under-deliver on highly speculative assets and in a world where cancel culture looms large.

  • If you are beholden to someone you can’t operate without the influence of that person. In crypto, this “person” is often a VC or angel investor. While they may be well-intentioned, their job is the make a return on their investment not proliferate dank memes (regrettably). While each party’s goals may be able to be accomplished simultaneously, the potential for conflicts of interest that stymie juicy and holistic memetic goodness are almost infinitely more likely to exist.

  • If you make no promises you can not break one. Promises in this context relate more to promises made to your “community” (a term in crypto so overused at this point I want to blow my brains out) than to a VC.

    If Bored Apes don’t build a metaverse, or build one that’s lackluster, or build one that just doesn’t meet the expectations of one particularly loud “community member,” you could be fucked.

    If DeGods bridge to a chain at the wrong time, or DeGods don’t bridge back at the right time, or DeGods don’t bridge to the chain of choice of one particularly loud “community member,” you could be fucked.

    If Moonbirds restrict IP rights, or if Moonbirds make their IP CC0, or if one particularly loud “community member” wants to make everyone else’s IP CC0, but restrict their own so they can start an obscure on-demand merch printing store…you could be fucked.

Onchain CC0 IP is Even Harder to Kill

  • Blockchain is hard to kill so its native IP will be too. A blockchain’s inherent resilience and decentralized nature make it exceptionally difficult to alter or erase. This means that once IP is recorded onchain, it gains a level of permanence and protection against tampering that traditional forms of IP storage cannot match. That is if the IP is onchain and not just uploaded to IPFS.

  • More/New proliferation incentives exist onchain than offchain. As highlighted by Qiao in Alliance’s Crypto Startup Ideas piece, tokens can serve as a continuous prediction market for real-world events.

    Most people want continuous, unlimited upside. They don’t want to be limited by discrete, binary outcomes, which is the case in traditional prediction markets. We believe truly crypto-native prediction markets are actually meme coins in the form of plain-vanilla fungible tokens, like $BIDEN and $TRUMP.

    In this case, the market at hand relates to politics, and the coins are fungible but, these memecoins can just as easily relate to art and be non-fungible.

    You have a monetary incentive to proliferate and create. And if there are no IP restrictions on how you can proliferate or create you are more likely to do just that.

CC0 IP is Easy to Proliferate

  • If you don’t define what you’ve made, or how to use it, people will make what they want. Perhaps best understood through the prevalence of the mantra better to ask for forgiveness than permission within Silicon Valley circles and other communities on the frontier of innovation, if you eliminate all barriers in the innovation or creation process you are more likely to innovate and create.

  • Steal like an artist. I guess this section is just citing popular phrases to make my argument for me, but popular phrases are popular for a reason. No one says, to restrict IP like a businessman when trying to make cool shit, Zuck aside perhaps. If artists are going to steal anyway, why not just embrace it?

  • “All fiction is fan-fiction” was a phrase used often by Francesca Coppa, a professor of mine, that really hammers home the silliness of IP restrictions in a world where people do what they want anyway. Harry Potter is just some fan-fiction of Lord of the Rings and James Bond with some magic. And given the accelerating pace at which we all consume and create content, our ideas are more meshed together today than ever. So, unless you are specifically taking the Luca Netz approach (good luck champ)…why not just make your work CC0 🤷‍♂️

  • CC0 IP is more likely to represent the everyman. If you can represent everyone the path to becoming a Veblen good might not be fast, but your path to becoming a household name may be. Case in point there are countless crypto founders and Influencers who refer to their communities as mfers in addition to the project they founded or use as their identity.

    This is not a slight by the way, rather I think it shows just how engaged these folks are with their target audience. The fact that mfer had a meaning before the NFT collection isn’t lost on me either, but it’s hard to ignore how seamlessly this everyman character makes it into every community’s vernacular. It would seem mfers live rent free in the collective mind of brypto bird app for some reason.

Onchain CC0 IP is Even Easier to Proliferate

  • Show me the incentive, and I’ll show you the proliferation. While the late Charlie Munger may not approve of his quotes being adapted to speak highly of onchain activity, the quote is highly relevant. The proliferation of onchain CC0 IP is accelerated by the existence of a speculative token. “SpeCUlaTioN bAD!” No, in the case of CC0 IP and onchain IP more broadly, the existence of a token that can be speculated on crates a realizable upside if the community builds something people find value in.

    In recent years, technology has progressed to a point that it has abstracted away tedious or even dangerous parts of life that had previously been considered normal. Just 100 years ago air conditioning was rare in the west, today it is business as usual. As society becomes more and more conditioned to these advancements given to us by technology and the risk-takers who made them, we have begun to operate under the illusion that comfort is freedom, and engaging in industries or technology with an upside or downside is in some way taboo. Yet, gambling is increasingly pushed on us. We can’t watch TV for more than 5 minutes without having Kevin Hart push a risky parlay down our throats. That’s predatory and fucked up. It’s as if we are being told to strictly take risks to have fun instead of taking risks to improve the world. If we want to try to build something of use, or creative that has a speculative aspect to it, this illusion of “comfort as freedom” steps in and paralyzes us from building cool/useful shit.

    Comfort is not freedom. Freedom is freedom. Don’t be paralyzed, speculation is a feature, not a bug.

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once - When something is onchain, transparent, composable, and immutable, its permanence safeguards the work against censorship or alteration and establishes a perpetual, open-source artillery of creative assets that can continuously inspire new creations. In other words, they are hyper-efficient culture Legos.

    CC0 IP is the most future-proof and exponentially growing horse in the race.

End of blog. Thanks for your time motherfucker.

P.S. Thank you to Anaroth, and David Hoffman for their feedback on drafts of this piece and to Bold Leonidas for illustrating the cover image.

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