Bored Apes & Monkey Selfies: Copyright & PFP NFTs

14 Pages Posted: 31 May 2022

Date Written: May 21, 2022


Profile picture projects ("PFPs") are the reigning format for NFTs, both aesthetically and economically. Aesthetically, the format allows for experiments in variation within a standard template on a high-volume scale that Andy Warhol would have envied. Economically, it allows creators to supply a critical mass of semi-fungible intangible assets capable of sustaining an ecosystem of collecting, trading, market-making, and speculation. It also offers projects a new way to raise capital from a large number of patrons. So it is no accident that the most successful NFT projects are PFPs.

Regardless of the merits of PFPs to date, they undoubtedly constitute a new and important artistic medium, with emerging aesthetics, economics, conventions, and cultures attributable to their form. Aside from acknowledging this cultural fact, I won’t try to convince anyone of its truth here. Instead, I’ll provide a working definition for PFPs and discuss some of their strange copyright implications.

Keywords: NFT, NFTs, Copyright, Trademark, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Bored Apes, Profile Picture, PFP, PFPs

JEL Classification: Z11, K11, K12, K39

Suggested Citation

Steiner, Alfred/Dave, Bored Apes & Monkey Selfies: Copyright & PFP NFTs (May 21, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Alfred/Dave Steiner (Contact Author)

Meister & Steiner ( email )

United States

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