Digital Property Rights with Bitmark NFTs — Evolving The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement

On March 19th, at 10AM PST, Bitmark is proud to launch Feral File with the software art exhibition Social Codes curated by renowned artist and Processing programming language co-creator Casey Reas. The following is adapted from Close-Ups on Feral File.

Social Codes curated by Casey Reas, featuring artists Andrew Benson, LIA, Dmitri Cherniak, Raven Kwok, Anna Carreras, Manolo Gamboa Naon, Maya Man, Frederik Vanhoutte, Saskia Freeke, Dave Whyte. (Image courtesy of Dmitri Cherniak.)

At Bitmark, we believe that agreements around digital property (data, artwork, collectibles) cannot be resolved purely through traditional legal contracts or technology-based smart contracts. Legal contracts can’t handle the fidelity of digital assets (such as defining and enforcing the boundaries of digital property) at scale, technology-based smart contracts can’t handle the incomplete nature of contracts. No contract, and thus no software code, no matter how well constructed, can account for every possible contingency. The DAO highlighted this issue on the Ethereum blockchain several years ago.

This is why Bitmark NFTs combine the best of software code (technology) and property law to create robust agreements for all stakeholders. For example, Feral File, the Bitmark-secured NFT art marketplace, builds upon the classic 1971 legal agreement “The Artist’s Reserved Rights Transfer and Sale Agreement.” Feral File’s “Artist + Collector Rights” evolves that agreement for the digital age. It uses the blockchain to record each edition and transfer of ownership.

Here’s how Bitmark’s code and law work together:

  • A blockchain record (Bitmark NFT) defines and connects rights to an asset. This is similar to a “bundle of rights” from traditional property law.
  • Each edition from Feral File contains a unique agreement, digitally signed by the collector and the artist. This agreement is hashed along with the artwork itself to form a unique identifier that is recorded in the Bitmark Blockchain.
  • Secondary sales are also standardized in the agreement. This allows artists to take part in the value created when their work appreciates.

Our hypothesis is that by cryptographically linking artworks with their legal agreements, we can establish a more sustainable and transparent market for digital artworks. The Bitmark blockchain was purpose-built to process the rights around digital assets at scale. It is more energy efficient, less expensive, and faster at these transactions than other solutions while remaining decentralized, secure, and censorship resistant. Learn more about how ERC-721 compares to Bitmark here.

Feral File’s first exhibition opens on March 19, 2021 at 10AM PST with new work created by:

We hope to see you there.



Our end-to-end Internet protocol secures the provenance of data. This makes it possible to have verifiable information, digital property rights, and safe sharing of personal data — without the need for trusted third parties.

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