On January 21, 2022, TamarindArt LLC, a collector and dealer of Indian art, sued the administrators of artist Maqbool Fida Husain’s estate for a declaration that Tamarind’s Non-Fungible Token (NFT) project of Hussain’s artwork did not hold any assets. has not been violated. Rights. According to the complaint, in 2002, Tamarind purchased a 60-foot-tall mural by the artist titled Lightning (1975) for $400,000 (according to the complaint, the work was often called the Guernica of India). Recently, Tamarind started a campaign to sell NFTs based on the artwork. In response, the property sent a cease-and-desist letter to Tamarind stating that plans to sell NFTs based on Tamarind’s artwork would infringe the property’s copyright interests in the work.
Tamarind seeks a judicial decision that her employed NFTs will not infringe any right to property. (ImliDart, LLC v. Hussein et al., Index No. 1:22-CV0595-AT (SDNY)) Per Tamarind, as part of the purchase, the artist signed a bill of sale, giving the work the title of Tamarind and an “exclusive, royalty-free, worldwide license … including all intellectual property in relation thereto.” Tamarind also alleged that it and the artist signed another agreement in 2003, in which the artist agreed “that all artworks previously purchased or created for Tamarind/affiliates shall be deemed the copyright protected property of Tamarind or its affiliates.” which, according to Tamarind, may have residual rights to the property in any artwork and made Tamarind the copyright owner of the work. The estate has not yet filed a reply to the complaint on its behalf.
This case calls into question the rights to mold NFTs based on artwork. Generally, under US law, an artist retains the copyright in a work after its sale (which includes the exclusive right to reproduce and distribute images of the work), a license or assignment of copyright to the buyer. Absent the agreement providing. Here, the case will require the court to interpret and enforce the agreements the parties have signed to determine whether Tamarind has the necessary rights to mint. Given the flurry of recent developments in the NFT sector and the market congestion, we can expect to see more controversies arising over the sale and marketing of NFTs based on creative assets.