The Associated Press (AP) is launching a non-fungible token (NFT) market later this month for collectors to buy “the news agency‘s award-winning contemporary and historic photojournalism” — or at least a token of ownership of the work.
Let’s break it down.
Wait, what are NFTs again?
NFTs are, above all, a bit confusing. They are also very important right now.
Our friends at popular science have a very good article summarizing the basics, but the more relevant details are:
- NFTs are tokens that verify individual ownership of a Something using a blockchain (most often the Ethereum blockchain, although the AP uses the Polygon blockchain).
- A popular use of NFTs is to sell art. In this case, it will be works from the AP’s Historical and Contemporary Photojournalism Collection.
- Buying an NFT is not the same as buying the copyright in a work, and since these are digital images, it’s also not the same as purchasing a physical copy of the image. We’ll see what buying one of AP’s NFTs gets you in a few moments.
So what exactly does the PA do?
This isn’t the first time the AP has played with NFTs. Last year, he auctioned off 10 “artistic representations” of some of his most famous images through OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace, as “AP ARTiFACTS: The 175 Collection.”
This time around, the AP is actually building its own marketplace (in conjunction with a company called Xooa) to sell NFTs that “feature photographs of current and former AP photojournalists and a selection of digitally enhanced depictions of their work.”
It will use the Polygon blockchain which, due to some complicated details of how transactions are handled, is significantly more environmentally friendly than the Ethereum blockchain which, you know, is helping to set the planet on fire. You can also purchase NFTs with a credit card.
What does an AP NFT bring you?
In the press release, the AP indicates that each NFT will be accompanied “with a rich set of original metadata providing collectors with knowledge of the time, date, location, equipment and technical parameters used. for shooting”.
And, uh, yeah that’s it.
You get the token indicating that you own the NFT and additional metadata. There’s no mention of copyrights, image usage rights, etc., so it’s safe to assume the AP will retain them.
You will own the token which you can sell later, but you will not be able to profit from the original image in any way. That said, selling an NFT in the secondary market – supported by Xooa – can financially benefit both the owner of the NFT and the original creator/artist of the work (in this case, likely the AP -even, not the photographer).
Why is the PA doing this?
Excerpt from the press release:
“‘For 175 years, AP journalists have recorded the world’s greatest stories, especially through captivating and poignant images that continue to resonate today,’ said Dwayne Desaulniers, AP’s director of blockchain and licensing. “With Xooa’s technology, we are proud to offer these token coins to a rapidly growing global audience of NFT photography collectors.‘
To be honest, the two citation clauses seem a bit non-sequential to me.
Either way, the AP says the prices will vary so “collectors of all skill levels can seamlessly buy, sell, and trade official AP digital collectibles on the marketplace.” There will also be Pulitzer Prize-winning photo NFTs up for grabs, but expect these to potentially have higher prizes.
That said, the AP is a non-profit organization, so any proceeds will go towards funding the newsroom.
When does the marketplace go live?
The market, called AP Market, is due to go live on January 31. You can join a waiting list here.
The initial collection will be released in a series of drops over a few weeks. They will, apparently, “go from space, weather, war and other imagery to the spotlight on the work of specific AP photographers.” We would also like to see classic sports photography in it.