Internet Memes: the next best NFT?

With the sale of Non-Fungible Tokens becoming popularised by the mainstream media, their appearances and features are also becoming more popular in day-to-day life. NFTs commodify digital creations, like artwork, images or music, and are single files that can be sold and purchased, like bitcoin. They provide the owner of the NFT with a certificate of ownership of the file, and, as the files are one-of-one, their coding means that they cannot be copied or traded, only increasing their value.

Internet memes are images or videos that become exceptionally popular on the internet that contain a humorous and parody element. They are the latest file type to begin appearing in NFT sales. 

A familiar meme features 5-year-old Zoë Roth, now 21, with a devilish grin in the foreground of a controlled house fire, and has been superimposed onto thousands, if not millions, of other people’s social media pages, in an attempt to make humour of a disastrous or unfortunate situation. Titled ‘Disaster Girl’, the original meme was sold on April 29th this year as an NFT for 180 Ethereum (a form of cryptocurrency), equating to £341,000, to an NFT collector known as @3FMusic.

Another meme that gained fame in 2020, features four men dressed up in front of an ‘All Bar One’ bar in Birmingham before a night out in 2019. Distinguishably known as ‘Four Lads in Jeans’, the image has been acknowledged by celebrities including Piers Morgan, Liam Gallagher and Conor McGregor, who all shared the image on their social media pages. The individuals in the photo; Jamie Philips, Connor Humpage, Kevin Rooney and Alex Lacey, subsequently experienced harassment and online bullying, with Alex receiving death threats to his work phone after his phone number was leaked to the public. After experiencing the negatives of the internet, the four men have decided to sell their image as an NFT and are working with cyber-bullying charity, CyberSmile, to raise awareness of online trolling. If their sale is successful, they are planning to make a donation to the charity to increase their funding to prevent cyber bullying.

Their NFT has a reserve price set at £1 million on the NFT auction site Rarible. The auction began on Thursday 6th May, and is open until Thursday 13th of May, however, their highest bid is currently sat at $4.91. Masha Vyazemskaya, head of communications at Rarible, has said that the sale of the ‘Four Lads in Jeans’ meme is an opportunity for a member of the public to own a piece of internet history, and that memes, as a phenomenon, are native to the concept of NFTs.

Reactions to this sale have been mixed, with some public claiming that an NFT’s purposes is for providing small artists with the opportunity to benefit greatly and has not been used here for that purpose. While other members of the public are supporting the modernised auction, as it raises awareness of internet trolling and bullying. 

Selling online memes as NFTs provides the original content creators with the opportunity to turn a possibly negative experience into something positive and beneficial. With NFTs becoming the modern route to memorabilia, and with the internet being a fundamental element to today’s living, internet memes’ selling points are expected to increase in value and desirability.

If you have any questions regarding NFTs, or a query concerning another form of Intellectual Property, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the team at Lawdit today.

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