Last year, a collective of cryptocurrency fans pooled millions of dollars to buy a copy of the story bible of the legendary never-before-made adaptation of director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s novel. Dunes. After winning an auction in November, the band voted last week on a direction for the project and were quickly roasted online for not understanding what they had purchased. Their plans included an animated series inspired by Jodorowsky Dunes, and as any good collector probably knows, buying a commemorative copy of a screenplay or storyboard doesn’t give you the right to shoot your own version.
The real situation seems more ambiguous than some critics suggest. the Dunes the owners of the story bible, known as the Spice DAO (short for “Decentralized Autonomous Organization”), seem acutely aware that they do not own Dunes himself. Instead, they engage in an original series “inspired by” the book. The whole scheme might help illustrate why art can’t be reduced to a neat series of copyright licenses — rather than just showing that “the crypto brothers don’t know how rights work.”
That said, many of them probably aren’t.
We won the auction for 2.66 million euros. Now our mission is to:
1. Make the book public (to the extent permitted by law)
2. Produce an original animated limited series inspired by the book and sell it to a streaming service
3. Support spin-off projects from the community pic.twitter.com/g4QnF6YZBp
— Spice DAO ( , ) (@TheSpiceDAO) January 15, 2022
Spice DAO outlined its future plans in an inaugural governance proposal that was approved by 95% of token-holding voters. In addition to electing a four-person leadership team, it commits the DAO to a set of four goals between January and March 2022: “obtain physical custody of Jodorowsky’s Dune Book by arranging shipping and storage”, digitize every page of the book. , hire a social media agency, and “submit a cinematic treatment and budget by Roble Ridge Productions for the book-inspired original animated limited series for a community vote.” (The series was previously announced in December.) On Twitter, DAO spice rated that he planned to “sell it to a streaming service” in the long run.
Gizmodo, The next web, and some Twitter reviews interpreted this as Spice DAO thinking they had acquired the rights to “make their own Dunes.” But as Gizmodo notes, the group has acknowledged that it does not own the intellectual property behind Dunes, and the term “original” usually refers to something that is not officially part of an existing IP franchise. In other words, it looks like the script team wants to follow in the footsteps of Jodorowsky, who reworked many of his additions to Frank Herbert’s film. Dunes novel into an original comic book series titled The Incal. As Spice DAO put it, “While we don’t own the intellectual property of Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, we are in a unique position with the ability to create our own addition to the genre as a tribute to the giants who set us up.” preceded.”
Spice DAO obviously wouldn’t need to own a copy of the Dunes bible to make a Dunes-as a series that was not explicitly derived from Jodorowsky’s work. But I haven’t seen any public statements that the central parties involved think otherwise. From the outside, buying at auction likely looks like a publicity and fundraising strategy, not a botched attempt to buy a copyright. After all, anyone can write a screenplay indirectly inspired by Jodorowsky’s. Dune— if you want yours to get noticed, meeting a group of fans to buy a rare collector’s item is not a bad bet.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell how many Spice DAO supporters are on the same page about what they’re funding. by Ryan Broderick garbage day newsletter, for example, describes significant confusion around voting, copyright, and what “adapting” the script should mean.
And the DAO itself is quite reluctant to clarify what it does. I reached out via Twitter to ask if the governance proposal referenced a series explicitly based on Dunes or one indirectly inspired by it – and if it was the latter, if it would still be heralded as “inspired by the work of Jodorowsky dune.” (This would almost certainly upset the various parties that own the Dunes franchise, even if the underlying series did not infringe their copyrights.)
“Why would we share with you before sharing with the community? “, replied the Twitter account. A follow-up message was not responded to, so it’s unclear if the account was simply declining to comment, or if Spice DAO community members weren’t notified definitively if they received a follow-up. Dunes series or simply a Dune-flavored series.
There is a lot of real confusion about crypto and copyright, and many projects are legitimately bad at explaining what “ownership” of crypto gets you. You should also probably keep your expectations in check for a Spice DAO series. Making an animated miniseries is a slightly more difficult deliverable than shipping a book, and the DAO arguably glosses over many real-world legal challenges it would face even with an original script. A lot of intellectual property law is about power, not right – so if a bigger studio wants to shut down something that looks and sounds too much like Dunes, even a careful and competent team could face a long legal battle.
But many creative projects start with artists relying on a favorite book or movie, whether or not they use systems like a DAO. Let’s not encourage the all-too-common assumption that people can only do this if they buy permission – even if the people we’re talking about are crypto bros.