NFT giant Yuga Labs admits in new court documents that it does not have ‘copyright registrations’ for the 10,000 images in the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) collection.
The new revelation came as part of the Yuga Labs-Ryder Ripps lawsuit. The court document stated “Counts 2 and 3 ask the Court to declare that Yuga Labs does not possess a copyright in the Bored Ape images. A copyright exists at the moment copyrightable material is fixed in any tangible medium of expression.”
In June 2022, Yuga Labs filed a lawsuit against Ryder Ripps for trademark infringement, false advertising, trademark infringement, etc for “seeking to devalue” authentic BAYC NFTs with a counterfeit collection dubbed RR/BAYC NFTs.
Ryder Ripps then filed a counterclaim against Yuga Labs, accusing Yuga of using neo-nazi imagery in the BAYC collection. The claim stated that the use of the BAYC trademarks for the RR/BAYC NFT comprises fair use.
Yuga stated that the registration of a copyright is not required to hold and own the copyright. A user only needs to register a copyright when they plan to take legal action against someone.
“The Court should not wade into whether Yuga Labs has a copyright in its Bored Ape images, because such an opinion would be merely advisory; Yuga Labs does not have a registered copyright, and there is therefore no imminent threat of a lawsuit for copyright infringement,” Yuga added.
Yuga Labs and its NFT collections initially boomed because it gave the IP rights of its NFTs to the owners. Even with the lack of copyright registrations, Yuga Labs is confident that it has copyright over BAYC NFTs.
“Lack of federal copyright registration does not mean an entity does not own copyright. When provenance is documented, like with BAYC NFTs, copyright protection is automatic,” a Yuga Labs spokesperson noted.
Further, Yuga said there is “no confusion” about its NFT holders’ rights.
Yuga Labs VP of Comms Delaney Simmons took to Twitter to clear the confusion, “The U.S. Copyright Office’s website says: Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form…”
Ryder Ripps filed a counterclaim asking the court to declare that Yuga Labs did not possess any copyrights. The counterclaim was subsequently moved to be dismissed by Yuga Labs.
“We brought an action for trademark infringement, not for copyright infringement, so it is not right for the court to reach out and determine whether or not we have copyright rights or not,’” Yuga explained.