Bored Apes, Ryder Ripps, and 'Owning' an NFT

In the NFT era, there is a controversy about fair use and copyright.

Ryder Ripps, a millennial-focused artist known for his satire, stunts, and design work, has started minting a non-fungible token (NFT) set spoofing the influential Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).

Since Monday, Ripps has created about 550 tokens "by hand," he added. Each one includes a new siminan character from the imaginary planet of the Bored Apes. Ripps, in other words, is imitating the apes.

After receiving a Digital Millennium Copyright Act request, Foundation, an NFT platform, halted trading of some of the photos earlier this week. According to a letter published by Ripps, his work had infringed on the intellectual property of Yuga Labs, the parent company of the Bored Apes brand. Despite Ripps' intentions to fight the DMCA – as he has in the past to defend other artistic crimes of plagiarism - the photographs are once again causing controversy in the NFT business.

"I haven't (sic) slept," Ripps wrote in a private chat around 11:00 UTC yesterday.

“minting

"by hand

“hehe.”

This act is viewed as a work of "performance art" by buyers of the "RR/BAYC" tokens, which are an acronym of Ripps' name. By attaching a different non-fungible blockchain signature to Yuga Labs' copyrightable information, Ripps is putting it in a new context. He claims that while the pictures are similar, the meanings are not.

NFTs are a sort of blockchain-based technology that allows you to add a tradable item to another piece of digital data like a PDF, GIF, or MP3 file. Supporters believe they can be used to improve data provenance and give infinitely replicated files a distinct identity.

NFTs are increasingly being utilized for fundraising, sometimes in ways that appear to be in violation of existing securities rules. The sector, which is seen as a hub for innovation and artistic creativity, is also generating questions about copyright law and what it means to possess a digital asset.

In a move that may be described as decentralized brand building, the Bored Ape Yacht Club allows token holders to monetise their NFTs and related personalities. Ape owners have created theme restaurants, sold Ape products, and used fan art to enrich the club's lore.

See also: Neil Strauss's 'Tell-All' for the Bored Ape Yacht Club

It's unknown why or how Ripps' photographs were pulled down, a procedure that may have been automated, or re-posted on Foundation, which Ripps believes was a direct act by Yuga Labs.

"If they went out of their way to cancel that request, it sends a significant message," Ripps remarked over the phone. Yuga Labs' spokesperson did not respond to several requests for comment.

Ripps has largely been selling his phony apes for.1 ETH, which is currently worth roughly $200. After informing Ripps he appreciated the joke but couldn't afford the price, a Twitter user known as @VardCrypto was handed an RR/BAYC token.

"You don't see conceptual art in the NFT realm every day," Vard told CoinDesk. "I like how [Ripps] is proving that you can't replicate an NFT using the base URI [universal resource identifier, which is used to address online data]."

Ripps has made an artistic statement regarding NFTs before, as well as criticized successful "profile pic" efforts. These projects, often known as PFPs, refer to a non-traditional sector of largely cartoonish animal characters such as Lazy Lions, Pudgy Penguins, and MiLadies that consumers use as online avatars.

Ripps "punked the CryptoPunks," an early NFT art series of highly valuable collector's goods, by copying and pasting a punk file, minting his own token, and putting it as his profile picture on social media platforms such as Twitter, in July of last year. Except for the token tied to it, Ripps' version of Punk 3100 was identical to the CryptoPunk NFT initially produced by Larva Labs in 2017.

"They should be believers in the self-governing ideas of cryptocurrencies by engaging their so-called art with the Ethereum network." Ripps told CoinDesk at the time, "I question Larva Labs' intentions, comprehension of art, grasp of 'punk,' and understanding of cryptocurrency/NFT."

Ripps has also tried to bring attention to alleged racist stereotypes in the Bored Ape Yacht Club during the last year. He runs a website called Gordon Goner, named after one of Yuga Labs' once-pseudonymous creators, that details the series' "dog whistles" and "Nazi imagery."

"If you've ever been on 4chan," Ripps remarked, referring to some of the arcane references or "inner jokes" he claims to have discovered. "That's amazing how far they went with it."

Ripps' assertions have been refuted by Yuga Labs, and some of his claims have been labeled shallow, false, or coincidental by others.

"I got [a RR/BAYC] because I've been following his work for years, and his satire is my favorite and most poignant." "I would never consider any form of Yuga Labs purchase," krystall.eth, an NFT collector, told CoinDesk.

While others are boycotting, the bored brand is just getting stronger. Justin Beiber, Jimmy Fallon, and Snoop Dogg are among the celebrities who have joined the "yacht club." A recent sale of virtual land linked to the BAYC "metaverse" raised more than $285 million, contributing to an increase in Ethereum transaction fees (which climb in response to demand), with the network's fourth-highest trading week coinciding with the sale. Yuga Labs just completed a $450 million investment round led by Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm.

Yuga is being courted away from Ethereum by a film series, an APE token, and blockchain "business development teams."

After a disagreement with famous NFT influencer j1mmy.eth, Ripps' current BAYC project was born. Ripps created a replica of j1mmy's Bored Ape profile photo to refute allegations that owning a token grants you exclusive rights to an image.

"Well, it doesn't matter, it's not the same NFT!" an Ape would remark if you come at them for rocking their PFP. "To which you should respond, "exactly, you can't reproduce an NFT, hence it's an original work with fresh context/meaning," as the phunks did," Ripps added.

After a rejected copyright suit from Larva Labs, Ripps' early experiment with counterfeit CryptoPunks was permitted to continue trading on OpenSea, but some legal experts believe the merry prankster may be in legal trouble this time.

"The BAYC photos are a different story." "There's no doubt they're copyrightable, and RR's use of them is prima facie infringement," Brian Frye, a lawyer and conceptual artist known for his own anti-plagiarism pronouncements, told CoinDesk.

He explained, "The difficulty is that he's selling NFTs connected with the photos into the'same' market as [Yuga Labs]."

Brian Frye, an NFT artist, wants you to steal this article.

Ripps claims his actions fall within "fair use" of photographs, a legal copyright exception intended for educational purposes - such as a news organization putting a Bored Ape image in an article to demonstrate how they appear, according to Frye.

"However, utilizing a BAYC image to show an NFT for sale is the same thing the copyright owner is doing to commercialize the work," he stated.

In his body of work, Ripps has claimed that developing and selling NFTs is an act of art in and of itself, and that a broader notion of fair use would apply. Yuga was also unlikely to seek charges, according to Frye, because it would call attention to Ripps' race-related accusations or "make them look like tools."

Ripps' initiative has received mixed reviews on Twitter. "What's going on at [the] foundation?" inquired @DegenSpartan, an Egirl Capital partner. In response to the latest uproar, he labeled it a "free for all."

Although Ripps has a constitutional right to critique and remark on an influential project under the First Amendment, his effort could be seen as tarnishing the Bored Ape's brand and possibly causing confusion in the NFT markets, but this may not matter in the eyes of the law.

"Consumers are unimportant to Copyright. "The whole goal of copyright is to have customers pay more so that copyright owners benefit," Frye explained.

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