The site “The Ruin stirs, and the Five Realms rumble” was released on the web on the morning of October 25, US time (currently archived). .. The site says: “New York Times best-selling author and award-winning Marie Lu, Tahereh Mafi, Ransom Riggs, Adam Silvera, We invite you to the fantasy blockbuster “Realms of Ruin,” co-produced by David Yoon and Nicola Yoon. “
Prominent young adult writers, they share this announcement on social media, open Twitter, Instagram, and Discord servers for their fans, pushing the traditional publishing industry into a new era of Web3. Discussed about. Web3 is an evolution of the decentralized Internet that focuses on privacy, data ownership, and rewards for works (which may include fan creations).
In advancing this collaborative fantasy work, six writers first post 12 original stories about the fictional world in which they are copyrighted. Fans write derivative works (based on it), mint them as NFTs (non-fungible tokens) on the Solana blockchain, and submit them to the Realms of Ruin. If you find the derivative work you wrote interesting, declare it as part of the official story of the project.
A few hours later, fans developed concerns about the project on the Discord server. If a fan writes a derivative work about the world created by the writer, who owns the derivative work? What happens to the copyright of derivative works if they are mint as NFTs? Moreover, the concerns are exacerbated given that the readers targeted by writers are too young to buy crypto assets on platforms like Coinbase and Gemini.
Rebecca Tushnet, a professor at Harvard Law School and Frank Stanton’s First Amendment, accurately describes this situation as follows: “It’s like a turducken that people don’t understand (a dish of turkey stuffed with duck and chicken, an analogy of a stuffed situation).” So, in addition to the general NFT issues, it’s packed with copyright issues and historical issues that derivative writers have hesitated to monetize their work in a commercial environment. ..
A team of six young adult writers and nine developers worked for two months, day and night, to realize the Realms of Ruin, but a few hours after the announcement, it was a big hit. This project has been cancelled.
TechCrunch spoke anonymously with a source familiar with the Realms of Ruin project. The authors, who worked with the developer team on the project, decided that they would lose more than they would gain, and ended the project, according to people familiar with the matter.
I wish we could pretend this doesn’t exist but everyone subtweeting and asking if it’s true only adds to the hype, so–yes. It’s real. Multiple bestselling authors joined together to get involved with NFTs. pic.twitter.com/2NHEmzHZrV
— Amanda Woody 🎃 (@AmandaWoody_) October 20, 2021
The project eventually went bankrupt due to a combination of various factors. The target audience was concerned about the environmental impact of NFT mint, but they did not fully understand how NFT works. The various elements of the project were also not fully considered in advance. Fans were also concerned about the legal issues that arise from monetizing their derivative works.
Emerging technology dystopia
Many young adult readers are attracted to dystopian novels that reflect anxiety about real-life issues such as climate change, such as the work of Marie Lou and Tahereh Mafi who participated in “Realms of Ruin.” Marie Lou’s future novel foresaw the imminent catastrophe of climate change, and users who read it were concerned about the environmental costs of minting NFTs.
Blockchains such as Ethereum and Bitcoin perform “calculations” using an algorithm called “Proof of Work” (a mechanism that links crypto assets and blockchains) to verify the legitimacy of transactions. This calculation consumes a lot of energy and is inefficient.
As a result, on Twitter and others, posts that the frequency of natural disasters is increasing, and users who buy expensive JPGs in crypto trading that consumes as much energy as a week’s worth of electricity in the average U.S. household, The news is mixed, and cognitive dissonance is occurring. However, Realms of Ruin has downplayed these concerns by appealing that it uses the Solana blockchain.
The project’s website before it was archived said: “Realms of Ruin is built on Solana to enable low-cost transactions with minimal environmental impact.” “You’ve read this far, NFT from the story on the Solana blockchain. It consumes more calories than it needs to mint. “
Unlike NFTs that are currently mint on Ethereum, the transaction fee for mint NFTs on Solana is less than 1 cent. Austin Federa, Head of Communications at Solana Labs, the developer of the Solana blockchain, told TechCrunch that “the energy required to mint NFTs on Solana is 30 ml (30 ml). It’s less than the energy needed to boil water (at room temperature). ” This is because Solana partially uses an algorithm called “Proof of Stake”, which requires less energy to validate than PoW. But I don’t think teenage fans fully understand the difference between blockchain. Some tweets after the project was announced likened mint NFTs to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.
This lack of understanding symbolizes the major problem that encryption technology must solve: how to get the general user to understand it.
Federa said: “People hear NFT and think of it either being bought or sold at Christie’s (a long-established auction house) for $ 69 million or being highly encrypted.” “I I really expected Realms of Ruin because they were trying to fill that gap. “
Concerns due to lack of planning and lack of explanation
Another problem was the misunderstanding of NFTs about so-called “gas charges (fee)”.
Generally, it costs gas to mint NFT. The cost of mint (gas cost) is high on the Ethereum blockchain and it is still a significant barrier to entry, but the Solana blockchain costs only a few yen (Federa charges a long-term fee for the entire Solana network. Add that it is designed to keep it low). When submitting a creation to the world of Realms of Ruin, there is a gas bill transaction to mint the NFT, but among fans, “you have to pay the author to write a derivative work. (Actually, there is a fee as part of mint on the blockchain, which is correct).
These misconceptions are annoying now that a lively fan community with little intervention by the original authors is available online for free.
Megan Manzano, an agent dealing with young adult works, said on Twitter.Concerns about Realms of RuinHas stated. “I think I could have considered more, or maybe there was a section somewhere explaining what was right … I felt like there were a lot of questions I could have explained in advance.”
Giving up your copyright for this community means the creators can then do whatever they want with your story and give no credit, no money, and does not need to involve you in any decision making for whatever deal may arise.
— Megan is Closed to Queries! (@Megan_Manzano) October 20, 2021
The Realms of Ruin’s plan to sell character NFTs as collectibles was also confusing. In project marketing, it was also unclear how these digital collections would relate to the element of story co-writing.
According to people familiar with the matter, the sale of character NFTs is intended for those who are already accustomed to encryption technology, and the profits will be used for “Community Treasury” to subsidize gas bills. It will be used for all community-defined benefits, such as providing cryptographic incentives for interesting stories. However, some fans believe that if they don’t have a character’s NFT, they won’t be able to write the hero’s creations, and the project’s developers are on the Realms of Ruin website to make sure it’s wrong. Did not explain to.
The source also admits that the content of the Community Treasury was inadequately explained.
One developer commented on Discord: “In the near future, we will decide when and how to use Treasury in the community. We would like to create a mechanism for making such a decision.”
The fans asked the following questions. “This community is now virtually entirely based on this Discord, but if we all decide to donate all of our treasury revenues to UNICEF, would we do that?”
“Yes, that’s right (although it’s a bit more complicated),” the developer answered. “I found that I wasn’t ready to answer all the questions you wanted to know. I’m trying to answer them. I will. “
Fans pointed out that it is irresponsible not to have these answers at the time of the announcement, but according to the sources concerned, this project is scheduled to be rolled out from November 8, and this announcement is He said he was aiming for a teaser (not a launch) (an ad that intentionally hides the elements of the product you want to promote and attracts attention).
Derivative work and ownership, NFT
Derivative works are a fertile market with some troublesome issues such as copyright and ownership.
If you’re a top derivative author, you can turn your online success into a real-life publication. With tens of thousands of readers online, it’s no wonder you can be on the New York Times bestseller list with original characters and original stories.
A recent example is Tamsyn Muir’s “Gide on the Ninth,” published in 2019, and the New York Times made a “catastrophic debut with all the over-promotion.” “Saku”. Muir does not hide that he was writing derivative works. Also, the clear supporter of derivative works is NK, the MacArthur Foundation’s “Genius Grant” winner and the only author to win the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Novel for the third consecutive year. It’s Jemisin (NK Jemisin). In terms of revenue, EL James in the Fifty Shades of Gray series may be the best example of a writer who built his career by posting derivative works online. No. Before the series became a worldwide hit, she wrote a derivative work for “Twilight.”
But monetizing derivative works through online platforms is a more difficult problem. For example, when Tumblr announced that it would roll out a paid subscription product, Post +, the company cited derivative writers as an example of content creators who could benefit from this product. , There were concerns that charging for derivative works could cause legal problems.
“What I was most worried about was that (the writers of the Realms of Ruin project) had their fans write a lot of work and choose the one that suits their world. It’s annoying that they have already built and copyrighted this world, “Manzano said. He says it’s unclear what derivative writers can do with their work, or whether they will be recognized or rewarded.
TechCrunch sources close to this project seem to have different opinions. Although the six founding authors own the copyright of the Realms of Ruin, the derivative authors (at least according to the website archives) do not own the franchise and are large. You can get paid by participating in a publishing project. For example, more than 850 Star Trek novels have been published, but the writers do not have the rights to “Star Trek.”
Professor Rebecca Tushnet (a member of the legal team of “Organization for Transformative Works”, which operates the major derivative site “Archive of Our Own”), answered these questions. ) Depends on what kind of contract is actually made between Realms of Ruin and the writer.
Professor Tushnet told TechCrunch, “If the project recognizes the rights, it’s not a copyright infringement issue, but an ownership issue. This is determined by the terms of the contract, but generally. The expectation is that secondary creators have limited rights. ” The details of the deal are unknown as the Realms of Ruin project was closed before it was officially launched.
“The right to derivative work is probably the least interesting story,” continues Professor Tushnet. “It’s not uncommon for writers to’play with the world I’ve created. I’ll pay a portion of my revenue.’Kindle Worlds tried this, but in the end it wasn’t profitable. It seems that Amazon has closed Kindle Worlds. “
Many derivative writers are skeptical that projects like Kindle Worlds are “a transparent way for businesses to benefit from the community.” These suspicions go back to the time of the founding of the Archive of Our Own.
In 2006, a platform called “FanLib” raised $ 3 million (about 340 million yen) in venture capital investment, and copyright holders (such as ViacomCBS, which owns “Star Trek”) held a derivative contest. Launched a platform where you can interact with fans. However, derivative writers at the time said, “FanLib requires all applicants, including those who did not win the contest, to waive their rights to the work and allow it to be used for commercial purposes by FanLib. I have criticized this. It’s not surprising that these derivative writers don’t own the copyright for “Star Trek,” but for these writers, they own the actual words they put on the page, and ViacomCBS owns their work. It was important to be able to decide whether or not to allow it if you wanted to commercialize it.
Naomi Novik, a mystery novelist who has announced that he is also a derivative writer, posted a groundbreaking blog post under his pseudonym on the Internet in 2007, later on the “Archive of”. We proposed a project that would be “Our Own”. The Archive of Our Own is an ad-free, donation-based, derivative-operated derivative platform for derivative authors, bringing the legality of derivative works to the forefront. FanLib was sold to Disney by 2008 and was immediately closed.
The Archive of Our Own is currently working to protect writers from potential copyright issues from monetization by banning links to sites like Patreon and Ko-Fi to solicit tips.
“Attempts to monetize derivative works often cause a lot of controversy,” Tushnet points out. “From our experience, we know that one of the best solutions to revitalize the fan community is to leave it to the community and actually limit interaction. That’s fandom (enthusiastic fans). And their culture, the world), and for the author who created the work that created the fandom, it seems that we can create the healthiest situation. “
A source familiar with the Realms of Ruin project said, “It was blockchain technology that decided to build Realms of Ruin on the blockchain, ensuring that the derivative writer was his own work. So, we can realize a new way to legally get paid for the work. “
On the blockchain, it is possible to easily trace how the stories influenced each other systematically, and it is possible to confirm that the writers inspired each other’s works. In other words, if someone writes a story that corresponds to someone’s story and the NFT associated with that story is sold at a high price, the inspirational writer will also be paid. Also, the appeal of NFTs to the original author is that, unlike traditional sales in creative culture, each time an NFT is sold, it is returned to the original author. In traditional creative culture, if the original author sells the picture for 10,000 yen and then the buyer resells it for 100,000 yen (there is no contract that states the right to receive the original author for a percentage of the sales amount). As long as) there is no royalty to the original author.
However, Professor Tushnet argues that the use of blockchain alone is not enough to solve the legal problems faced by derivative works.
The professor says: “People who are absorbed in NFTs think they have solved some new problems, but they are not. Even if there are interesting legal issues, their connection to NFTs is just. No more than a coincidence, copyright issues are determined by real-world law. “” There’s nothing new about this. Ship your manuscript and what country’s law applies to it. The fact that we have to look up hasn’t changed since ancient times. “
Update: hearing that all of the authors involved took down their announcement posts on Instagram 🙃
And in the discord, this was posted: https://t.co/7jTx1bHlQA pic.twitter.com/iFyeAGcET2
— Shelly Romero (@_smromero) October 20, 2021
After all, Realms of Ruin was a project that had been published and archived for only a few hours. However, the Realms of Ruin case shows the challenges faced in trying to convince a (naturally) skeptical community of how the spirits of the existing Internet community are protected when spreading Web3 to the world. There is.
Interestingly, Web3’s values aren’t much different from a mecca for derivative works like the Archive of Our Own. Both are going beyond the current popular model: advertising Internet services that offer free access in exchange for monetizing user interest.
“This technology is still incredibly early,” Federa said. He believes that much of the opposition to Realms of Ruin was due to users misunderstanding blockchain-based projects, not factual ones. “However, each project should better explain what encryption technology is and why we decided to build it on top of it.”
Sources familiar with the Realms of Ruin say it would be premature to bring Web3 into the world of publishing. Many users are skeptical of this ecosystem, even though the pioneers of cryptography are sensible to the world of the ad-free Internet where authors can get a legitimate reward for their content. is. It’s a fraudulent, male-centric community of cryptography, and in the current situation where external access seems difficult, users can’t be blamed.
Manzano says: “I think it’s too early to introduce.” “We need to think about copyright, expectations of writers, rights, commercialization, etc. If certain rules and expectations are not shown, which one? I’m worried that it’s going to be sloppy. It’s too new for the publishing industry to understand this area and properly integrate it into the issues of trading, commercialization, and fan exposure. It’s too much. “
Sources have fully considered what happens when the developers and writers working on the project are around that, for example, if a fan sells the Realms of Ruin story as an original novel. I admit that I wasn’t. The opacity of the Realms of Ruin deployment may have been more fatal to the project than the integration with encryption technology.
“If I was a teenager, I might have jumped at seeing my favorite author making something that I could participate in,” Manzano said. “I think there is a more elaborate way to get the fans together and liven up.”
Image Credit: Grandfailure / Getty Images
[To the original text]
(Sentence: Amanda Silberling, Translation: Dragonfly)