De-Collab is The Big Hairy Idea Behind Bored Apes

Matt Swayne
two primates on log
Apes — and even chimps — might be bored, but the business model is an exciting twist on traditional models. (Image: Unsplash/Sepp Rutz)

The apes might be bored, but the model they use may be a revolution in online business, according to a law expert. The key for Bored Apes — a non-fungible token, or NFT, project from Yuga Labs — is the decentralized collaboration, or De-Collab, model, according to Edward Lee, Professor of Law, Illinois Tech Chicago-Kent College of Law.

In a paper on SSRN, Lee writes that the De-Collab model is a shift from the more typical centralized collaboration model. The centralized collaboration model looks more like a hub-and-spoke arrangement, according to the researcher.

“The IP owner is the hub, and licensees are the spokes,” explains Le.. “With centralized control, this model promotes a more consistent product—typically subject to approval by the hub—as well as accuracy in the implementation of a business plan through centralized coordination.”

Disney is a master at the Cent-Collab model. Mickey Mouse has not just been used in Disney products and to promote the company’s theme parks and entertainment offerings. But, they have also licensed Mickey to other brands, such as Lacoste, Levi’s, Rag & Bone, Forever 21, Marc Jacobs, LEGO and Oreo.

De-Collab flips this, or, at least fun-house mirror distorts it. In this model, the  IP owner not only permits consumers to make derivative works, but lets them monetize the IP.

“The IP owner sells NFTs stored on blockchain that comes with a license allowing buyers to make derivative works and commercial uses of the IP associated with the NFTs,” Lee writes. “As a result, the IP owner relinquishes creative control over the development of derivative works of its IP to the buyers of its NFTs. Such secondary uses and derivative works do not require any approval by the IP owner. It is all decentralized.”

Lee is not entirely sure whether the de-collab model will be a success, but adds that the initial success of Bored Apes is a sign that suggests it’s sustainable.

Lee writes: “Although it is too early to tell how successful this approach will be, recent deals of Bored Ape NFT owners with Universal Music and music producer Timbaland to create bands for the metaverse show the great potential De-Collab offers. As the Bored Ape ecosystem develops, further study should be made to evaluate the successes and failures of the De-Collab model as a source of innovation and creativity.”

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