Programmable IP License (PIL๐Ÿ’Š)

Story Protocol Programmable IP License

We designed Story Protocol's licensing module to power the expansion of emerging forms of creativity, such as authorized remixes and co-creation. Our protocol can support any media format or project, reflecting activity ranging from user-generated social videos and images, to Hollywood-grade collaborative storytelling.

Intellectual property owners can permit other parties to use, or build on, their work by granting rights in a license, which can be for profit or the common good. In the media world, these licenses are generally highly tailored contracts, which vary by media formats and the unique needs of licensors - often requiring unique expertise and significant resources to create.

We searched for a form of a "universal license" that could support these emerging activities at scale. Hat tip to Creative Commons, Arweave, A16Z / Canโ€™t Be Evil, The Token-Bound NFT License and music rights organizations, among others. But we simply couldn't find one framework or agreement robust enough - so with our expert legal counsel (with special thanks to Ghaith Mahmood and Heather Liu) we created one ourselves! Introducing the Story Protocol Programmable IP License.

The protocol and the license work closely together. The parameters outlined in our license are enforced on-chain via Story Protocol, bridging code and law. By doing so, we unlock the benefit of transparent, autonomous, and permissionless smart contracts for the world of intellectual property.

Some of our unique facets include:

  • Universal: To use one of the existing open source licenses, the parties must agree on using one particular version. For Creative Commons, the agreement for commercial use is distinct from the non-commercial contract. Separate versions permitting derivatives, or relicensing, are needed to address different requirements. This results in many different licenses to represent each selection of multiple options. Why canโ€™t there be a single flexible agreement to rule them all?
  • Permissionless: A goal of Web3 is permissionless licensing. Creating derivatives without requesting permission (or forgiveness!) is the default in our agreement. For certain IPAs, particularly those from established brands or media properties, approvals might be required before derivatives are created. Thatโ€™s OK - thereโ€™s a tag for that.
  • Commercial Use: To effectively support commercial use, we need more than a simple binary selection between commercial and non-commercial, A media company or creator might want to limit the parties that can commercialize a work (perhaps certain NFT holders), have a clear and transparent definition of commercial use, or may have constraints on activity in certain media formats (perhaps from pre-existing license arrangements).
  • Progressive Complexity: Under each parameter, the IPA can select tags appropriate to its project. Absent a selection, we have provided defaults. For example, if you agree that your license is limited to a particular country you might select "United States." To keep it simple, our default is global. This allows an experienced media company to apply the same business logic in current usage, while the hobbyist could apply a reasonable and industry-standard default.
  • Adaptable: Not everyone may want to use our form. We can separately publish our parameters as a license library, which would allow others to easily map their existing agreements to our smart contracts.
  • Content Standards: A healthy ratings system is crucial for mass market media. The original licensor can select from certain standards that content creators must stick to.

In future versions, we might consider adding:

  • Rules for when a remix becomes a new work
  • Co-creation / co-ownership terms
  • Features for music licenses
  • Sublicensing capabilities
  • Fractionalization permissions and rights
  • New royalty pool structures

We are excited to collect feedback and collaborate with IP owners to unlock the potential of their works - please let us know what you think! We can be reached at legal @ storyprotocol [dot] xyz.


Easy mode: we have preset PIL policies

Check the PIL Flavors here


Deep dive on PIL configuration

Read this page to learn more about PIL in practical terms.


PIL Legal Text

It's very human readable (for a legal text)!


PIL Legal Text with explanation

PIL with comments and explanation