A music NFT project called Opulous featured Lil Yachty as “collaborating” on their NFT drops.
But he says he never agreed to be part of the project.
So, Yachty is suing Opulous, its music distribution partner, and that partner’s founder individually.
He’s asserting claims in California federal court for trademark infringement, false endorsement, and violations of his publicity rights.
According to the lawsuit, Yachty had intro conversations with the Opulous team who pitched their “music copyright-backed NFTs,” which allow people to buy fractional licenses to various music recordings and earn streaming royalties.
Ultimately, Yachty passed on the invitation.
But Opulous issued a press release and advertising campaign stating it was “kicking things off” with drops “led by world-famous artists including Lil Yachty.”
Opulous also used Yachty’s image in tweets and LinkedIn posts promoting the project.
This is not the first NFT project that I have read about where a musician’s likeness has been used allegedly without the artist’s permission or involvement.
While the context is new—NFTs as we currently know them are still in their relative infancy—the issues presented here are not.
It’s a mistake to think that the NFT or metaverse spaces are “unregulated,” which is something I hear repeated frequently.
IP rights, including publicity rights, exist everywhere.
And Yachty’s allegations present classic, straightforward claims for trademark and publicity rights violations.
While there are many novel legal issues that come with new technologies, it’s important to understand where the risks lie, old and new.