Tim Berners-Lee defends auctioning NFT of web's original source code as bids reach $2.2...


Posts: 7,060   +62
Staff member
Recap: World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has defended his decision to auction off the web's original source code as a non-fungible token (NFT) after critics argued it goes against the values of his invention. The auction, which only began yesterday, has already reached $2.2 million from 41 bids.

Berners-Lee last week revealed that the "This Changed Everything" NFT would go on sale at Sotheby's with a starting price of $1,000. It includes the original time-stamped files containing the source code, an animated visualization of it being written, a letter produced by Berners-Lee reflecting on the creation process, and a digital "poster" of the entire code created by him from the original files using Python.

Berners-Lee's letter, part of Sotheby's auction

Some have claimed that selling an NFT of the source code contradicts the free and open nature of the world wide web, but Berners-Lee disagrees. "…the web is just as free and just as open as it always was. The core codes and protocols on the web are royalty free, just as they always have been. I'm not selling the web – you won't have to start paying money to follow links," he told The Guardian.

"I'm not even selling the source code. I'm selling a picture that I made, with a Python programme that I wrote myself, of what the source code would look like if it was stuck on the wall and signed by me."

"If they felt that me selling an NFT of a poster is inappropriate, then what about me selling a book? I do things like that, which involve money, but the free and open web is still free and open. And we do still, every now and again, have to fight to keep it free and open, fight for net neutrality and so on."

Sotheby's said proceeds from the sale of the NFT will go toward initiatives supported by Berners-Lee and his wife, Rosemary Leith.

"I've always been interested in the digital world of whether we can use NFTs to get funding back to creative people like musicians and artists," he said. "From the point of view of selling an artwork, artists need […] it's useful in the digital world to have the equivalent of making an item."

With six days of This Changed Everything's auction still left to run, the NFT is expected to become one of the most expensive in history, though it has a long way to go before breaking the record; auction house Christie's and artist Mike Winkelmann made $69 million with "EVERYDAYS: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS," shown above.

Image credit: drserg

Permalink to story.



Posts: 969   +1,416
This story strikes at the interesting power of NFTs here with regards to being a new model of copyright, and how flexible it is. Unlike traditional copyright, which is inexorably bound to be one-size-fits all for the medium, NFTs can be tailored to the needs and requirements of the artist as well as the patron; so, for example, the 'Charlie bit my finger' video set up the terms of the NFT to allegedly delist the original video, while Sir Tim here explicitly made the NFT only give rights to the derivative image of the code, not the code itself. The potential application of NFTs with regards to redefining the rights between artist and patron is what interests me most about them.


Posts: 1,902   +1,105
Let's all just be grateful the web wasn't created in America, where if it had been, it would have been copyrighted to death by money grabbing CEO's, looking for a quick pay day.

Instead, this visionary, set it free.
......you should double check your history there. Look up ARPAnet.


Posts: 1,382   +2,445
The guy's code has changed the world probably more than any other creation since the Wright Brothers got busy. Arguably more so. I think he's within his rights to sell something that hurts literally nobody else so he can retire and live comfortably.


Posts: 602   +373
Technically and legally, Tim owns that source code. Even though it is open source, his ownership rights are not negated. He is fully within his rights to sell it if he wishes.


Posts: 892   +793
Let's all just be grateful the web wasn't created in America, where if it had been, it would have been copyrighted to death by money grabbing CEO's, looking for a quick pay day.

Instead, this visionary, set it free.
Reminds me how Volvo made airbags open for all car manufacturers to use because not doing that would be morally wrong.


Posts: 1,902   +1,105
..and you need to learn the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web.
Oh, I know the difference.

The point was the argument 'if the US made it, no one would have access to it' is demonstrably false. Tim Berners-Lee could not have made the world-wide-wed if the US had closed access to him to the Internet.