Mintable CEO Zach Burks has raised concerns over the United Kingdom’s approach to regulating nonfungible tokens (NFTs, emphasizing that the government may not fully grasp the evolving nature of this technology.
Burks expressed his belief that a report from a U.K. parliamentary committee exaggerated the role of NFTs in copyright infringement while overlooking their multifaceted potential. He stressed that NFTs are currently transitioning beyond the speculative phase of profile picture (PFP) collections, evolving into tools that brands use across a wide range of applications.
The Culture, Media, and Sport Committee’s report, released on October 11, called on the government to protect artists and content creators from NFT-related copyright infringement. Burks acknowledged the importance of copyright protections and intellectual property rights but pointed out that these are issues prevalent throughout the internet, not exclusive to NFTs.
He drew a parallel to major platforms like WordPress, YouTube, and Spotify, emphasizing that copyright concerns are a broader internet challenge, not one confined to NFTs. Burks noted the efforts of tech giants like Google to combat copyrighted material on YouTube and highlighted that the issue is not unique to the emergence of NFTs.
Burks, who regularly engages with U.K. government officials on NFT matters, believes that while NFT platforms should prioritize artist protection, regulators should adopt a more nuanced perspective of NFTs as a versatile technology.
He emphasized the myriad applications of NFTs, such as managing car records, property records, banking documents, supply chain systems, or even biofuels companies. NFTs, according to Burks, transcend the perception of being mere artwork or financial instruments and can function as comprehensive websites serving various purposes.
To illustrate his point, Burks used the analogy that if a website is used to sell books, it should be governed by the laws applicable to book sales. Similarly, if a website is used for illicit activities, existing laws can address the issue.
In his view, NFTs constitute a broad technology capable of diverse functions, and classifying them solely as digital art could hinder the true potential of the technology. He expressed reservations about the committee’s suggestion to implement the EU 17 copyright directive on NFTs, as this directive is overly broad.
Burks argued that the approach should involve evaluating NFTs based on their specific use cases, similar to how regulators in Singapore handle the technology. In Singapore, NFTs are examined for their actual applications, whether as securities or tools facilitating illegal activities, rather than subjecting all NFTs to a single regulatory framework.
Ultimately, Burks urged the U.K. government to recognize NFTs for what they truly are, acknowledging their diverse capabilities and potential contributions beyond the scope of digital art.