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Spice DAO Group buys an adapted version of Dune for 2.6 million euros and “discovers” afterwards it has not acquired its copyrights

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Duna | Dune

At the end of 2021, Christie’s closes the auction of the original physical version of a rare film adaptation of the book Dune, written by filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsk.

Shortly after the sale, the artistic community is surprised by a post on Twitter made by a DAO (Decentralized autonomous organization) called Spice DAO and which indicated that:

1. Spent 2.66 million Euros on the purchase of a Book;

2. Would make the book “public”; and;

3. Based on this purchase, production of an animated series of the Duna work would begin, as well as derivative works.

It so happens that according to the rules in the area of ​​intellectual property, the purchase of a physical or digital work is not automatically linked to its respective copyright. These are separate issues and should be considered in accordance with the terms of the offer, including whether the seller is in fact the holder of said rights.

In fact, the copyright and trademarks for the Dune work are owned by “The Herbert Limited Partnership” and are expected to remain out of the public domain until approximately 2060. In other words, what Spice DAO Group had actually acquired was only a physical copy of a book (which its market value is far less than the millions of euros spent). In fact the book only contained a script / screenplay for an eventual film and concept arts. Analysis of other sales of similar copies put the book at a value of around USD 40,000.00.

The Dune case clearly demonstrates an unfortunately common issue in the world of copyright. 2.6 Million Euros were put for the acquisition of a version of a work, when the original intention of the Spice DAO group was to acquire its related copyrights. Unfortunately, this purchase was not linked to copyright or a parallel contract and this ended up costing a lot for the Group.

HERBERT, Frank (1920-1986) and Alejandro JODOROWSKY (born in 1926). Dune. Suresnes: printed by the reproduction workshops Aviaplans, [circa 1975].

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