As much as we know about the NFT space, there is always more to learn. Marta Belcher is the Chair and President of Filecoin Foundation on a mission to preserve humanity’s most important information and create the internet of everyone. Marta makes extraordinarily complex concepts easy to understand in the world of blockchain. In this episode, she discusses how Filecoin offers a solution to incentivize people to join in creating a decentralized web and what role The InterPlanetary File System (IFPS) plays in all of this. She also shares incredible insights into copyright licensing in the NFT space and offers a better understanding of the different ways you can earn as a creator. Join your hosts, Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger, for this fascinating and information-packed episode, and don’t miss Martha’s valuable nuggets of wisdom.
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Marta Belcher Of Filecoin Foundation – Storing Humanity’s Most Important Information, Plus: P2E Hybrid Expo Asia, Lawsuit Delivered By NFT, And More…
This episode features Marta Belcher, President and Chair of Filecoin Foundation. Besides her role at Filecoin Foundation, Marta is the General Counsel and Head of Policy at Protocol Labs and also serves as Special Counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Marta is a pioneer in Cryptocurrency Law and has spoken on the topic around the world, including in the US Congress, European Parliament, New York Senate, the OECD, and at Davos during the World Economic Forum. Marta has drafted amicus briefs in the US Supreme Court and US appellate courts for high-profile public interest organizations, including EFF, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Public Knowledge, the Cato Institute, the National Consumers League, Project Gutenberg, and the Blockchain Association.
Marta has been recognized twice by the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards, was named to Law360’s list of Top Attorneys Under 40, and was number 18 on CryptoWeekly’s list of Most Influential Women in Crypto. Filecoin Foundation is an independent organization that facilitates the governance of the Filecoin network and supports the growth of the Filecoin ecosystem and the decentralized web. Marta, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here and talk all about NFTs.
What do you do with all your time?
I originally met Marta in church. I know she goes to church but it’s not the church you might think of. We will let her talk a little bit more about that. It’s great to have you on the show, Marta. What an honor. This pulls on our heartstrings because Jeff and I got into crypto with Filecoin. It made sense to us as the first no-brainer thing that we got involved in the entire space. We had done some decentralization in our food tech business. It was a logical thing that this should be available to every human being on Earth and company. It’s an honor to have you here.
It’s honestly such an honor to be here. It was funny to meet you in a church because I think of that as the ultimate centralized institution. We thought it was a great place to host what we called the Decentralized Web Gateway during Davos in May 2022 and The Sanctuary there.
The church is also, according to some, the first franchise operation.
That’s well put. That’s a good point. It was maybe more decentralized than I’m giving it credit for. It was cool to meet you there in Davos. We will be back there hosting the Decentralized Web Gateway again at The Sanctuary in Davos in January 2023. Hopefully, we will see you again, Josh.
It’s possible. The umbrellas were clutch. Thank you for those. I’m thinking there’s got to be some good hand warmers or something associated with the next one. A good reason for people to get over to the church. Let’s get to the story at hand, which is what Filecoin is up to and how you all played this world of magical, non-fungible projects. Starting with a little bit of the origin story, maybe you can kick it off there. Go back to 2017. What was going on?
When it comes to Filecoin, I had the same experience as you. It makes sense. The thing that is cool about Filecoin is that it’s not just about cryptocurrency. It’s about building the next generation of the web. To give the background on what Filecoin is and how it works, for me, the most important thing about cryptocurrency is that it creates the ability to program your money, being able to write computer code where you can automatically transfer value when a condition is met. It has always made sense to me as a former intellectual property lawyer.
In the IP world, to give you an example, you could say for every second of a song that I play automatically transfer 1.1 million of a cent to the singer and the songwriter. That can all happen instantly and automatically with no intermediary between us across the world, which isn’t tenable using the traditional payment systems.
With Filecoin, we use that same program with money technology to create a decentralized file storage network. The idea is if you have extra storage space on your computer hardware, you can rent it out to others who will pay you to store their files or rather pieces of their files. A computer program will regularly check those files that are still being stored on your computer. If so, we will automatically compensate you with cryptocurrency. We like to compare it to Airbnb for file storage. Storage providers are renting out their extra storage space to earn Filecoin, and users are spending Filecoin to store their files on other people’s computers.
It’s such a helpful explainer. The question that comes to mind is, which individual or group was hanging out and came up with this idea?The most important thing about cryptocurrency is that it creates this ability to program your money. Click To Tweet
This is all Juan. Initially, Juan, back in 2014, had developed IPFS, the InterPlanetary File System, which is the backbone of the decentralized web, this decentralized storage system. The issue with IPFS and all decentralized storage systems is how do you incentivize people to provide that decentralized storage. It’s one thing if you have the ability to do storage in a decentralized way but you need to provide incentives for people to provide that storage. The question is, “Who’s going to shoulder the cost of the infrastructure for this decentralized version, the web?” If you are trying to create a decentralized version of AWS but you don’t have Amazon to go work with their customers, how do you do that?”
That is what Filecoin was the answer to, was the ability to actually incentivize people to provide storage and make it available. That is the key that has unlocked this ability to have a decentralized version of the web. Filecoin sounds like a niche use case. It’s actually a foundational technology for this decentralized version of the web, where you can create alternatives to the three services that make up the vast majority of storage on the internet nowadays from Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, and not have the issues where you see one of these companies suffer blackouts and have vast SWAS of the web go down for hours and not have these single points of failure. That’s the idea behind Filecoin.
We think about all the stuff we store in our houses and how much space that takes up but we don’t think about the massive amount of storage that’s required for all these converging technologies.
You don’t think about it until there’s an outage. We’ve repeatedly seen AWS go down. Suddenly, people’s network Toaster’s stop working or whatever. News sites go down. You suddenly realize when you see these blackouts how much of our web infrastructure is dependent on a couple of companies. We believe that you can create a much better version of the web if you combine the storage capacity and computing power on all of our individual devices into a supercomputer network and store multiple copies of the data across those devices. On that decentralized version of the internet, websites are going to stay up, even if some nodes fail. The availability of information isn’t dependent on any one server or company. It’s a much more robust platform for what we say is humanity’s most important information.
Part of the reason why it spoke to us when we first heard about it has to do with collaborative consumption, the idea of access capacity, and working on that. Clearly, things like Kazaa, Napster, BitTorrent, and all those, even though some of them grew out of maybe dubious structures, ultimately it was collaborative consumption. People are storing this stuff on their computers, and you are getting bits and pieces of it from everywhere.
That’s what was happening in the early 2000s. It’s interesting how it evolved and how disruptive that was then with blockchain coming into its own. It was such an obvious use case for us, such a great fit, and amazing execution. There were a lot of companies that had conveyed similar visions across a number of different verticals in blockchain coming out of that time.
It was awesome to see Filecoin completely crush it and continue to. That’s great. Your background is in Copyright and IP Law. To a large degree, this is a relevant topic for us in the world of NFTs. Something you might be able to give us a little bit of background, the basics of Copyright and IP Law, as it relates to NFTs and ownership. We don’t get the opportunity to sit down with somebody that has a background such as yours and a willingness to speak. A lot of people aren’t willing to talk about it because maybe they don’t feel comfortable. Please, indulge us.
I was formerly an intellectual property litigator. I did a bunch of copyright cases. That was what led me into the world of cryptocurrency back in 2015 when I got interested in the space. Being an IP lawyer turns out to be useful in the cryptocurrency space, even though I think of myself now as more of a cryptocurrency lawyer than a copyright lawyer. Once upon a time, I was a copyright lawyer. The idea with copyright is that it’s a body of law that protects creative works. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that under US Law, you automatically get copyright in a work as soon as you create that work.
If you go and scribble down something on a piece of paper, you have a copyright on that thing that you scribbled. You can go and register that copyright, and that will get you some additional benefits but you don’t have to go and register a copyright to have protection for a particular artwork. All you have to do is create it. One of the things that are important in the NFT space is understanding what is the difference between transferring copyright and transferring an NFT.
You, as the creator of a particular creative work, can transfer copyright to someone else using a standard contract. You can transfer the copyright to someone else. You can say, “I don’t own it anymore. You own it now.” Something you can do is you can license the copyright. You can say, “I still own the copyright to this particular artistic work but you and other people can use it in any particular way that you decide to write a license to do that.” This is all governed by Contract Law.
This comes down to what you and others contractually agree that you can do with the particular work. There’s a lot to be said about how copyright licensing works in the real world but when you get into NFTs, it gets super confusing because people think that when you have an NFT and are buying an NFT, the conception is you are buying the underlying work or the rights to the underlying work. In actuality, and this is the headline, buying an NFT has nothing to do with buying the rights to use or have the underlying work.
Those are two totally separate things. When you buy an NFT, what you are buying is being associated on a blockchain ledger with a particular representation of a piece of work or a thing that points to a piece of work. You are not necessarily buying and not by default buying rights to use that work. You are not buying the copyright itself. You can, if you want, as the owner of a particular work, as part of selling an NFT, also license the rights to the buyer.
In a contract, you can say, “The buyer of this NFT can use this work in X, Y, and Z ways. They can’t use it commercially but they can use it personally.” Maybe they can display it in their home but they can’t display it on the street or you could transfer the entire copyright of the work to the NFT buyer but you don’t have to.
What this comes down to is Contract Law. It’s what you are putting in the terms and conditions when you are buying a particular NFT. That is something that a lot of people are confused about this idea of, “I’ve bought an NFT. What do I own?” The answer is, by default, nothing, but what you have to do is go look at the particular contracts that govern this transaction and see, “What did I buy when I bought the NFT? Do I now have the rights to display the work? Do I have the rights to use the work commercially? Do I own the copyright?” That’s something that is not well understood.
It’s easy to forget when you are in the world of Web3, NFTs, and blockchain, that there’s this rich history, legally speaking, in almost any category you can think of about how these businesses operate, this included. You get in this idea, “We are doing something disruptive here. It’s brand new and this and that,” but the reality is there is that precedent there, and you have to rely on it in a lot of ways.
I’m curious if you heard of the situation that Seth Green encountered, where he bought a Bored Ape, where, generally speaking, we have this as an example that a buyer can use the likeness of how they want. That’s how they’ve conveyed it. He said, and if we believe him, that his Ape was stolen. He was hacked. Somebody stole that Ape.
Proving that that is what happened may be tricky but in that case, somebody else has that Ape in their wallet and was transferred from one wallet to another. Seth claims that it was stolen from him, which we have no reason not to believe him but it’s hard to prove. A) I’m curious if that person popped up or if somebody started using that IP on their own, what do you think about that? B) Since he doesn’t own that Ape anymore, he has a TV series that’s built around that particular Ape. He’s using the likeness in that series. It’s a central character of this hybrid, almost Roger Rabbit-type series. I’m curious as to your thoughts on this interesting case.
What I would say about that and the things that bring up for me is a couple of different interesting things to say. One interesting thing about that is who is the original owner of the copyright. Originally, the copyright was owned by the person who created the work, the company that created Bored Ape, and the actual artist. When someone buys the NFT, there’s a question there as to, “What did the buyer of the NFT buy?” One thing they bought is the fact that this blockchain ledger will reflect that they are the owner of this NFT.
They definitely bought that. Now suddenly, this blockchain ledger no longer reflects that. It reflects whoever stole this Bored Ape NFT. You would have to go look at the particular terms, conditions, and the license to say, “What did the buyer buy?” Typically, with Bored Apes, they have done a pretty good job of doing relatively open licensing around the actual images to enable people to use those. Let’s imagine it wasn’t a Bored Ape. Let’s imagine that it was a CryptoKitty. With CryptoKitties, it was interesting when you bought a CryptoKitty, you would get a license to use the image of that CryptoKitty but only in non-commercial or commercial ways up to $100,000.
If you were the person who owned the CryptoKitty, you could post that CryptoKitty picture on social media. You could even use it in a small commercial thing and only make up to $100,000 because that’s what the contract said you could do. There’s an interesting question, depending on how you write the contract, “If that gets passed along to the next person, do you still retain those rights?” The answer to that literally comes down to Contract Law. You can look at what the contract says and figure out, “If then you pass that along to the next person, do you still get to use it with up to $100,000 per year?”
That comes down to what’s in the contracts. What you are seeing now is a bunch of interesting ways in which NFT creators are creating different kinds of standardized licenses, where we can start putting rules and standards and norms around how you do these transactions in a way that makes it a little clearer what’s going on. One of the things that happen when we talk about, “What happens with copyright in a particular NFT case,” the answer is, “What does the contract say?” It requires a lot more lawyering than I think would be ideal in a Web3 environment.
This is to come. This is why we think the space is exciting because there’s going to be a lot of evolution. If you can make the smart contract say some of the things, then they can be automated. You don’t have to worry about lawyers and people enforcing it or whatever. All the details, it takes a lot to enforce them depending on the actual details of the contract. That brings me to my question. I’m a creator. I spent a lot of time with creative people who make things. They love to make things. That’s all they want to do. They didn’t want to work out all the details of it that are licensed for 1 or 2 years, up to $100,000 or all this stuff.
The idea of an NFT is that it’s a way for an artist to monetize what they are doing or at least a new avenue for monetization that potentially cuts out the middlemen. It’s a complicated question. I want to know what some of the implications are there for IP buyers, sellers, and NFT artists. I love it if you speak a little bit about how much this does or doesn’t solve the problem of the artist, who, in the end, they are going to have to maybe think about this Contract Law, anyway. Maybe there’s going to be a middleman who is a lawyer, who has to write the contract that wants their own percentage. Maybe they set up that contract. I don’t know. What are your thoughts on how this all plays out?
There are a couple of interesting points that go along with what you are saying here. One is NFTs are fantastic for creators because one of the things that allow you to do is to continue to receive payments and royalties as transfers happen downstream in a way that isn’t possible outside of this digital context. Typically, if I’ve sold a painting to you, a physical painting, and I’m the artist, I’ve made whatever I’ve made out of that transaction.
When you turn around and sell it for 10X a couple of years later because now, I’m super famous, too bad for me, I made what I made in the first instance. One of the things to me that is cool about NFTs is that it gives you the ability to program in. Every time there’s an additional transaction, the original artist is going to get a percentage of that NFT revenue.
That is one of the things to me that’s so exciting about NFTs for creators and one of the reasons that this technology is important. Another thing I would say about that is, fundamentally, this comes down to you are typically selling an NFT using some store of the platform. What this all comes down to is what are the platforms developing in terms of what are their standard licenses? How are they developing the terms and conditions such that when you go on that platform, you can easily figure out what you are conveying to the buyer? It doesn’t necessarily require you, as a creator of an NFT, to go and talk to a lawyer.Filecoin was the answer to actually incentivize people to provide storage and make it available. That really is the key that has unlocked this ability to have a decentralized version of the web. Click To Tweet
Ideally, we live in a world where we have these platforms that have thought about this. Super ideally, we would live in a world where platforms have collaborated and created standard licenses that make it clear and apparent what rights are being conveyed in an English legible way. I have a lot to say about that and am happy to dive into that at some point. I’m always encouraging platforms to use the Creative Commons license for that reason. That’s the other thing I would say. We have a licensed structure where it’s apparent to you as the creator what you are conveying. All of these efforts are important to make it standardized.
That makes a lot of sense. Having a great platform that helps with those details, not just what’s the revenue share on future trades but what contract are you putting in place, what are the details, and what might you not have thought of and check these boxes, choose these options. It does seem like that’s a great next step to develop those things.
To add to that, it also needs to be interoperable with other platforms’ licenses like if I sell to you on this platform but then you sell to someone else on this platform, fundamentally when you are trying to figure out, “Who has the rights to what,” you have to be able to follow the license. If the terms of the second one and the standardized terms of a second platform are totally irreconcilable with the terms of the first one, you are going to create a lot of confusion. It will become unclear what has been conveyed. There’s also this important thing about NFT platforms getting together and standardizing. Again, I will dive into this at some point but one of the things you can do there is use Creative Commons license, which is already a universal standard.
You touched on this but for artists and creators reading, how can they sell their work without selling IP rights and use licenses for others to use their art for different purposes?
This is one of the things that I find super cool about NFTs. Typically, if you are a digital creator, you might end up making money from retaining IP to work and licensing it out or selling the IP to a particular work. One of the things that are cool about NFTs is selling the NFT has nothing to do with selling the copyright to the underlying work.
For me, coming from a world where I see the value of things being put in the public domain, one of the things that are awesome about NFTs is you can dedicate your underlying work to the public domain. You can give up your copyright in it and, at the same time, still sell the NFT and make money from it, which is incredibly cool.
Something that I have been encouraging people to explore is figuring out how you can sell your NFT and then, at the same time, commit the underlying work that you’ve created either to the public domain or openly license it in some way. Make it available to the public to use, remix, and do cool things with, and at the same time, make money by selling the NFT. That’s one of the things that’s cool about NFTs. It has been under-explored because this concept of the NFT sale being separate from conveying the IP rights is not well understood.
Let me unpack that a little bit because my first instinct was, “That sounds like it sucks. I created something. I’m going to let anybody use it for free, whatever they want. Play it on the radio a million times. All I have is this NFT. Somebody could be making a ton of money out of it and put this thing on T-shirts. I’m not getting anything out of it.” The direction you are going in there is that people will value the underlying NFT for a work that goes viral and makes a lot of money for plenty of people. That’s the idea because otherwise, that doesn’t work. Otherwise, you’ve given away the farm, and you’ve got maybe an NFT that somebody decides they want to throw away. Am I interpreting the details there?
Yes, exactly. It’s what makes an NFT valuable. Sometimes, maybe what makes the NFT valuable is the license to the IP rights that you get. Often, that’s not what makes the NFT valuable. Buying an NFT is more about the value of collectibles or being the person whose name is associated with a particular piece of art. Let’s say you own the painting Starry Night. You don’t own the copyright in that. In fact, it’s out of copyright. It’s in the public domain but nonetheless, it is a valuable thing to own that painting. The thing that’s cool is rather than waiting 100 years for the copyright to go into the public domain, you can either put it in the public domain now or openly license it.
For example, you could license it under a Creative Commons License where people have to still give you credit but they can use it however they want. You can openly license this thing and then still make money from the sale of the NFT, which is awesome. I would encourage people in the NFT space to think about how you can do that and to think about openly licensing their works, maybe under Creative Commons or putting it into the public domain.
That’s the Creative Commons license that we were talking about. What are great resources for people? Obviously, there’s a ton of information out there around IP, Copyright Law, and whatnot but that is not what we are talking about here. You are speaking about it eloquently. Do you have a resource or some tasks that you’ve done or anything you’ve made available to folks to help them navigate this particular area that could be so beneficial to creators?
Speaking about Creative Commons, which I’ve mentioned a few times now, in the copyright world, this problem that NFT owners and creators are having is not a new one. There is this idea of, “I have this work. I want to license it in a particular way. How do I do that without needing to enter into individual contracts with every single person who wants to use my artwork? What are the ways that I can allow people to use my works in the ways that I want them to use it but not the ways I don’t want them to use it?” This is a problem that has been facing people long before NFTs came around.
What Creative Commons has done is basically created a suite of standardized human readable licenses that allow you to easily label a particular work and say, “This particular work is licensed under CC BY,” is one example. You might literally put a little stamp on it that says, “CC BY,” and then everyone knows, having seen that CC BY stamp in the metadata or on the work itself, that it’s licensed under those particular terms.
You can go to the Creative Commons website and see the human-readable version of what that means. In the example of CC BY, that particular license means that people can use the work however they want, as long as they give you attribution. They know, “I have to give the creator attribution.” There are a bunch of other licenses. There are different Creative Commons licenses for, “Do you want to use something commercially? Can people use it commercially or non-commercially?” There’s also the ability to, via Creative Commons license, say that something is in the public domain effectively.
Having that standard suite of licenses is something that has been extremely underutilized by the NFT community. A couple of important pieces there. One is that as platforms are developing ways in which they are doing these licenses and creating these new licenses for NFTs, they should heavily lean on Creative Commons licenses rather than trying to recreate the wheel. I also think that creators should be leaning on Creative Commons licenses to look at how they can enable the public to use their works, even as they sell the NFT. I’m a big fan of Creative Commons. You can check out the Creative Commons website as a resource for that.
Your forthcoming book on Creative Commons. We do a whole episode series on Creative Commons. This is super helpful stuff, though. It’s important. We always say this, and there are many fundamentals to operating a business. This is one of those categories you got to understand if you are going to create a sustainable business for the long-term. Everybody that’s starting businesses for the first time in the world of blockchain, crypto, and Web3, don’t forget about the fundamentals. This is one of those key pillars. Thank you for sharing that.
We know that book, when you put it out, we will use some type of Creative Commons license.
To be clear, it well and does. I have written many papers that I have put a Creative Commons license onto. If you go to, for example, the Protocol Labs website, everything is licensed under Creative Commons. We do heavily lean on Creative Commons to openly license things in the copyright world. We also openly licensed things in the patent world but that’s another story. I am also an avid Creative Commons user. I’ve told this story before as a side note. My boyfriend in law school took a picture of a gavel, and he put it up on the internet under a Creative Commons Attribution license, so anyone can use this picture of a gavel.
It will be available to them to use as long as they give him attribution. He puts this on the internet. It turns out that journalists use Creative Commons all the time because they will need a picture of something and need to be able to use it and have a clear license to it. They are constantly looking on Flickr and searching Flickr for, “What are the things that are Creative Commons licensed.” It turns out that a picture of a gavel is extremely relevant for many articles about anything involving the law, any kind of criminal case or civil case. He licensed it under CC BY. They have to always give him attribution. I set up a Google News Alert for him at one point, what’s going to come up.
It turns out that it’s a stream of multiple times a day, a new hit on some article about some grisly murder or other crime because this gavel picture is used all the time by journalists on blogs and newspaper articles because he Creative Commons licensed it and it’s a pretty good picture of a gavel. I had to turn that off because I got sick of the grisly murder articles that his gavel picture was used for.
It goes to show why you, as an artist or creator, might want a Creative Commons license or openly license something because then it can get used when it’s clear to people that how you, as the creator, want it to be used and they can automatically do that, it will get used. That’s a sidebar of my personal experiences.
I sat next to a woman on the plane. This was early on in the show. What we were doing there, we were talking about NFTs. Her boyfriend happened to be this artist. He made an image explicitly as an art project like this. It’s him with his face in his hands or something like that. He put it as the Wikipedia article image of something but it was openly licensed.
The whole project was around following exactly what happens to that image and all the different scenarios it gets used and stuff. I can’t remember his name. I was trying to find it but maybe someone will bring it up. I want to know how NFT storage works on Filecoin specifically. Also, what drives the value of the Filecoin token around that?
I mentioned earlier that IPFS, which was created before Filecoin, and Filecoin, is basically built on top of IPFS. IPFS stands for the InterPlanetary File System. The vast majority of NFTs are stored on IPFS. In fact, there’s this saying that people say, “If it’s not an IPFS, it’s not your NFT.” The idea is, imagine you are hosting your NFT, and someone has created an NFT and stored it using some centralized service like AWS, and then where they’ve stored it on the centralized server stops working one day or someone stopped paying that centralized server to host that image file. That means that NFT’s associated image is no longer going to be available.
That is a problem, especially if you imagine some startup that you’ve bought this NFT from and it goes under, and suddenly, the file associated with your NFT is no longer being stored. Conceptually, the blockchain is pointing to a broken link. That’s the problem with storing NFTs using centralized servers. You paid a lot of money for something. You don’t want it to be dependent on some start-ups staying in business so it can pay its AWS bill.
The idea here is that decentralized storage on IPFS solves this problem because the availability of data on IPFS doesn’t rely on any one server or company. To give you an idea of how IPFS works, on the internet, if I go to a particular webpage, that information is being retrieved from a particular server somewhere in the world. I’m looking for that particular web page in a particular place, and I’m hoping that it’s still there.Buying an NFT has nothing to do with buying the rights to use or have the underlying work. Those are two totally separate things. Click To Tweet
I like to analogize this to imagine that you read a great book in physical hard copy and recommend it to a friend by saying, “It’s the book that’s at the New York Public Library on the 2nd floor, 3rd shelf from the left, five books over.” That’s how our internet works. To get to this book, you have to fly to New York, go to the public library, and find that specific place on the specific shelf where the book or in this case, this specific server where this image from this NFT is supposed to be. What if it’s not there? What if someone moved it or someone tore out a page? What if when you get there, you realize that it was in your backpack the whole time or your neighbor had it?
That is the internet nowadays. It makes a lot more sense to tell your friend the name of the great book that you read and let your friend find that book by its name rather than its location. That is what IPFS does rather than retrieving content by where it is, and you can retrieve content by what it is. IPFS uses content addressing. Content on the web is addressed using cryptographic hashes like a fingerprint of a particular piece of content instead of by reference to a file located on a specific server. You need to know the hash of that content, and it will go grab that from wherever is closest, from your computer if it’s there or elsewhere. If you already have it or someone near you has it, you can retrieve it from there. That is why the vast majority of NFTs, when going down to the storage layer, are stored on IPFS.
I’m curious if you know this offhand. What’s the minimum number of seconds you can play a piece of music without having to pay for the copyright? We are not going to hear a small clip of Beastie Boys, Intergalactic.
It’s not an unreasonable amount of time. I watch a lot of like music-based YouTube stuff, and it’s fifteen seconds and then they cut it because they get in trouble a lot.
It would be fun to have theme songs. I do cryotherapy occasionally. They let you pick your song to freeze your butt off to. I went with the Rocky song last time. Marta, you have been building for a few years. You guys keep building pioneers in this space. What’s next on the roadmap?
It’s funny that you use Intergalactic as the theme song for this episode. In terms of IPFS, I’ve explained how IPFS works. It’s called the InterPlanetary File System. That sounds silly like, “It’s the InterPlanetary File System.” It was envisioned by Juan as this thing that can enable interplanetary or long-distance communications in a way that the centralized internet doesn’t work.
I get why IPFS works for NFTs but this architecture also is great for networking in space. The reason for that is to imagine that you are far away from Earth. Maybe you are on the Moon or Mars. From the moon, there’s a multi-second delay for data to go back and forth. From Mars, there’s a multi-minute delay for data to go back and forth.
What happens is if you have to reference data by a particular location and get it from a particular location, and let’s say that location is Earth, every single time you get that data, you have to take that delay. Even if you got that data a day ago or if the person next to you just got that data, you have to every time go back to a particular server on Earth, get that data, and take that to life. That doesn’t work in space with this delay. IPFS fixes that. With IPFS, instead of doing that, you can look for a particular content ID, and then what will happen is it will get that data from whoever’s closest.
Let’s say there’s a satellite flying by that already has that data. It will get it from there. If another device near you already has the data, it will get it from there. One particular device needs to take the delay once, let’s say, getting it from Earth, and then everyone around them has access to that particular piece of data. This is intended to be something that enables interplanetary communications and networking.
One of the big things that we announced in Davos, Josh, where I met you, is we announced that the Filecoin Foundation has a partnership with Lockheed Martin, where we are working on using IPFS in space. That was my exciting announcement. That’s something that we are actively working on. It’s exciting stuff to finally see the vision of IPFS being interplanetary coming to fruition.
I’m sure that’s a multi-year process to pull that up.
We are in the exploratory phase, where we are identifying what makes sense for the demonstration mission. We are being pretty opportunistic there and looking at, “What are the different missions, where we could get a payload on, and what are the things that we are going to need to do to make sure that IPFS is working with the hardware that it needs to be working with.” It’s going to depend on what missions we can tag along with. Lockheed is helping us identify that. Our first phase is going to wrap up at the end of August 2022. It’s an exciting stuff.
We know Kyle, who has done a lot of space NFT type of work. He’s based in LA. I’m happy to connect you with Kyle and all the amazing stuff he’s doing. That was a blast in the past for me because, in my former life, I was a student in government consulting. I was working on general aviation pilot service improvement with Lockheed Martin. Flying things around in the most efficient and impactful way that’s some of their bread and butter and a great partner for such an ambitious project. It’s good stuff.
Our buddy, Mike Mongo, is going to be up there pretty soon, doing some fun stuff. Maybe he can throw something in his backpack.
Jeff, I’m thinking of some ideas for NFT LA 2023 here. There’s something fun. It’s underneath the surface here. We just have to figure it out.
We will see. Last question for you, Marta, before we head over to Edge Quick Hitters. What else is inspiring you in the Web3 space? There are many cool projects and different people doing so many different things. What gets you jazzed?
The things that get me jazzed are the things that are working on building using this technology to build a decentralized version of the internet. I always say, for me, when it comes to cryptocurrency, the price is the least interesting thing about cryptocurrency. What’s interesting is the technology, all the cool things you can do with the technology, and the projects that are building alternatives to big tech and creating the next generation of the internet. Those are the things that I find inspiring and the reasons that I’m working on the Filecoin project.
It seems like you are in a great spot to explore those passions and interests. Amazing stuff. Thanks so much for sharing all of that with us. We do want to shift gears a little bit and head over to Edge Quick Hitters, as I mentioned. These are ten questions we ask every guest of the show. It’s a fun and quick way to get to know you a little bit better. We are looking for a short, single-word or a few-word responses but we may dive a little deeper here and there. Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
In my first high school job, I worked for a local newspaper. I got my first paycheck and bought this purse that had a full-size clock on it, which I thought was forward-thinking at the time but that fashion never caught on. That’s what I remember as my first purchase.
Obviously, there’s the storage component to that first purchase. I don’t know if that was intentional or subconscious but I had to bring that to the surface.
There’s also a Beastie Boys reference there, a clock on a chain or something.
I love all of that. I’m using this again. I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone about that clock purse.
Was that a hip-hop-type statement of the purse or it’s just a clock on a purse?
I thought it was cool. It was a full-size clock. The entire purse face was a working, operable full-size clock. It seemed ahead of its time. Maybe it was, and its time has not yet come. It certainly was memorable. That was not intentional. That was what I first remember purchasing with my first paycheck from the local newspaper.
We can get these clock purses on Etsy for $140.
I will make you one for $140. I will buy a purse and a clock from Walgreens for $12.One of the things that's really awesome about NFTs is, you can actually dedicate your underlying work to the public domain. You can give up your copyright in it and at the same time still sell the NFT and make money from it. Click To Tweet
Question number two. What is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
Further to the newspaper theme, I sold newspaper ads for my school newspaper. That is the first thing I can remember selling.
What is the most recent thing you purchased?
I purchased some hyper-realistic fake plants, which are the best of all worlds. They do look like real plants but I’d never have to water them. That was my exciting purchase.
Question number four. What is the most recent thing you sold?
My time, fundamentally.
Question number five. What is your most prized possession?
It’s not the clock purse. I no longer have the clock purse. Obviously, it’s my time for sure. Technically, under the law, a cat counts as a possession. It’s property. I’m going to go with my cat.
Technically, under the law, the cat owns you. That’s inscribed in stone.
Do you have cats, Eathan?
Question number six. If you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
One of the things I like the best about myself is I can explain things that are complex relatively simply, which is what I try to do in my policy work when I’m working with members of Congress. The ability to explain things that are complex in a simple way with no jargon is one of my favorite personality traits.
Can you teach me how to then paraphrase and explain what you explained to us to others? I’m like, “I got it. At the moment, that makes sense. Now, how do I convey this to others?” That’s the next level.
That’s the meta-aspect of it. If you can’t explain it to a five-year-old, you don’t understand it. That is my fundamental feeling about that.
Question seven, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would it be?
It fundamentally comes down to what are your bad personality traits. I met this girl once wearing Slytherin robes. She was maybe ten. I was like, “That’s interesting that you are a Slytherin and wearing a Slytherin robe.” She goes, “Slytherins aren’t evil. They are ambitious.” I was like, “That’s interesting.” I’m a Slytherin. Whatever the suite of Slytherin traits is, maybe the hyper-ambitiousness would be the answer to that question for me.
Question number eight. If you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical service, and experience that’s for sale, what would it be?
I don’t think experience is the person. I’m not a big stuff person. It would be an experience, vacation related. Perhaps a tropical vacation variety, I would say. The vacation experience is the thing that I would like the most now.
I got a feeling it’s busy over there now. When was the last big vacay you took? Let’s call it a week.
Over the holidays. I took actually a ton of time off for the holidays. There will be vacations in the near future. I look forward to those.
It sounds like you’ve earned it. Question number nine. What did you do before joining us on the show?
I was in back-to-back calls. I stack them. It’s the most optimized because back-to-back, knock them all out and then try to have time when you can sit down and think. This is a back-to-back call day.
Optimization of time. Sticking, getting back to the theme here. Not necessarily mental and physical wellbeing but optimization of time. Last one question ten. What are you going to do next after the show?
When it gets to the late end, I do like to do a high-tech treasure hunting game that’s called Geocaching. I may do some of that. That may be the end of my back-to-back call day. I may go out and do some Geocaching.
We may have something in a scavenger hunt or treasure hunt realm for NFT LA 2023. Keep an eye out for that.NFTs are fantastic for creators because one of the things it allows you to do is to continue to receive payments and royalties as transfers happen downstream in a way that isn't possible outside of this digital context. Click To Tweet
Maybe we need your collaborative input.
That’s one of my hobbies, for sure. That’s relevant to my interests.
That’s Edge Quick Hitters. Thanks so much for sharing with us. We got a few hot topics to crush here. What do you say?
Let’s crush some topics. The first sponsored hot topic, Asia’s Largest Play-2-Earn Crypto Expo is to Kick Off in Bangkok, August 10th to the 13th, 2022. “Play-2-Earn Hybrid Expo Asia, the world’s first event focused specifically on the Play-2-Earn industry for businesses only, is to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, from August 10th to the 13th at the W Hotel Bangkok. Also, in the metaverse, there should be up to 250 physical C-Suites and up to 2,000 virtual attendees expected from all around the world. The expo is to bring together the entire ecosystem of the P2E industry from guilds, venture capitalists, game developers, exchanges launch pads, and key opinion leaders.” It’s interesting that focus on the business side of things. It goes to show how much the economy of gaming is growing and becoming one of the pillars potentially for the future economy.
We were talking about how gaming, in general, is interesting for the space. The level of engagement that we get from gaming episodes and topics, whether it’s here or newsletter links, and things like that, it’s through the roof. As we look at our stats and everything, it’s something interesting that we have been noticing. We have been having conversations about that. There’s a need out there around content information, specifically related to this space, gaming in the blockchain. Even though it’s still relatively nascent compared to gaming outside of the blockchain, there’s something there. There’s something we need to explore further.
At the end of the day, people have pretty intense lives these days. Gaming is a diversion, and something that’s engaging and fun is a part of our society. There has been this underlying question about, “What is it that’s going to make blockchain gaming adopted by the masses.” We had an interesting episode with Boss Fighters, as well as some cool AR gaming stuff. We talked about it there. It’s coming. Storing all this data would be important. What do you think, Marta?
When it comes to Web3 and gaming, when people started talking seriously talking about the metaverse, the thing that stood out to me is you know who get the metaverse are gamers, who are already spending much of their lives in the metaverse. It’s interesting when you think about the metaverse how much that already exists in the gaming world.
I also think when you start thinking about, “What does the future of the metaverse look like?” It’s important to think about wanting that to be part of an open and decentralized universe, as opposed to something that’s owned by Facebook or some other central intermediary, which is what we think about when we are thinking about the future of the metaverse.
I want to only be in the metaverse if Facebook owns it. Nobody is saying that. People go along with the Facebook ride but nobody is saying, “I want my metaverse to be at Facebook metaverse.” This event, some other cool stuff about it. There’s going to be a pitch competition with a final winner. There must be some other factors at play but the final winner could win up to $3 million of a pitch competition that they are going to be running. That’s pretty awesome.
It looks like they got all kinds of sponsors and a bunch of BCs in the mix there. We will see what it’s comprised of but I’m guessing it’s some form of investment and/or in-kind stuff but either way, big number for them to promote related to it. There’s not that much happening that’s focused on gamers. There’s a need for it. This is what they are doing in Southeast Asia. They have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to collaborative gaming, community gaming, and gaming as an eSport. I’m not surprised to see that they are leading the way on this front as well.
It looks like we have some ticket giveaway that they’re collaborating with us on. Jeff, do you know any details on that?
The organizers are going to kick out ten virtual tickets to the virtual experience for this event. Keep an eye out on our socials. We will give details on how to score these tickets. It sounds like a pretty sweet event. You don’t want to miss it.
On to the next topic. A UK court allows lawsuits to be delivered via NFT. They will drop that into your Metamask wallets. “According to a Tuesday notice from UK law firm Giambrone & Partners, a case brought by Fabrizio D’Aloia against Binance Holdings, Poloniex, Gate.io, OKX, and Bitkub over allegation someone was operating a fraudulent clone online brokerage has resulted in a legal precedent, offering a digital solution to serving someone. On June 24th, the judge in the case allowed parties to be served by airdropping NFTs into wallets, originally held by D’Aloia but stolen by an unnamed individual.”
That’s crazy. I dropped this one as I was in the next episode, grabbing some questions for our Edge Quick Hitters. I saw this one in there. Our preproduction folks had put it in. I was like, “We got to drop this one in this episode. We’ve got to know Marta’s take on this.” This is interesting. We were talking earlier briefly about Seth Green’s Ape getting stolen one night in a wallet somewhere. The equivalent to what you described, E, is like someone dropping a subpoena in that person’s wallet. They know they have the Ape and drop it into the wallet. What is going on? This is interesting stuff. Marta, what do you think about this?
As a former litigator, serving legal documents like actual service and process is one of those things that is outdated and difficult to do. This is where you end up with having to send literal physical process servers to people whose job it is to hand people documents, which is wild. It’s one of these wildly outdated things. It’s cool that a court has allegedly allowed it. I haven’t looked at the documents themselves but it sounds like it reportedly has allowed service of process by serving someone via NFT. You certainly don’t have to worry about being able to prove that they at least received it. I don’t know if they read it but they clearly received it, which is pretty cool.
That’s a tough one. What if I lost my seed phrase or something? You then can’t prove that I have seen that, as you said.
It’s interesting. It raises a lot of questions. I haven’t looked at the documents themselves but I do think that service of process is a shockingly outdated thing. To give you an idea, sometimes you can give people formal legal notice of something via publishing something in a newspaper, which is also outdated and wild. This whole area of law has a bunch of things that are not necessarily aligned with how things work in reality. It’s pretty cool that a court is thinking about, “If we are going to do things that are a little bonkers, might as well do them in a way that’s up to date with how people are experiencing the world.”
There are all kinds of different things you can program into an NFT. I imagine you should be able to figure out if somebody’s viewed it at some point in some form or fashion within a particular wallet. There’s got to be a way to program that.
It’s interesting. One of the things that’s weird about this area of law is it isn’t necessarily like if you can prove that someone read something, then you properly serve them. You have to have checked the boxes, and done the right thing. Sometimes you can serve someone via a FedEx box, a commercial mail receiving agency. I remember I did that once. I served someone via the commercial mail receiving agency. It was this crazy bonkers process where the thing had to sit under California Law.
The physical papers have to sit in the CMRA for a certain number of hours, and then they have to be forwarded by the CMRA, whatever, the FedEx worker to the last known address but you then have to get the declaration. It’s wild, the things that you have to do to check the box that you’ve properly served someone. The fact that you could make that in any way more aligned with reality is amazing.
We will keep an eye out for interesting ways to serve people here. Marta, that’s the hot topic. That is bringing our time together for our close as enjoyable as it was. We want to make sure that readers know where to follow you and all the fun things that you are working on as well as Filecoin, Filecoin Foundation. Where should we direct people?
We have the Filecoin Foundation. We also have our 501(c)(3) nonprofit that focuses on the decentralized web in general, which is called Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web, FFDW. You can follow Filecoin Foundation, FFDW, and me on Twitter or you can check out Fil.org, which is the Filecoin Foundation’s website or FFDWeb.org, which is the FFDW website. I’m @MartaBelcher on Twitter.
Check it out, you all. We’ve reached the outer limit on the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on the starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey also much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes now, or rate us and say something awesome. Go to EdgeofNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for greater NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
Thank you so much for having me. It’s fun.
- Filecoin Foundation
- Protocol Labs
- Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Creative Commons
- Lockheed Martin
- Asia’s Largest Play-2-Earn Crypto Expo is to Kick Off in Bangkok, August 10th to the 13th, 2022 – Article
- Boss Fighters – Past Episode
- UK court allows lawsuits to be delivered via NFT – Article
- @MartaBelcher – Twitter
- Spotify – Edge of NFT
- iTunes – Edge of NFT