Remember when a DAO attempted to purchase a copy of the United States Constitution? Although that was a failure, brace yourselves for version two. Another DAO is attempting to purchase the media rights to the popular creepypasta turned internet icon — Slender Man.

Going by the name SlenderDAO, they're aiming to decentralize the monster's intellectual property (IP). Freeing it from the shackles of a defunct production company.

The origin story of Slender Man

We all know the classic pale, lanky figure by now. The Slender Man spawned in 2009, as part of a forum competition that asked participants to create a terrifying modern myth. A user called Victor Surge replied with a chilling entry accompanied by a photograph…

"One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as "The Slender Man". Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.

1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986."

The forum thread was taken over by people demanding more. And, Surge supplied. One user commented, "Oh jebus, this one is giving me the willies. Usually subtle works best but sometimes the blatant ones scare me more. I really want to read a slender man horror novel now. With pictures."

An internet sensation

The monster escaped the forum and spread across social media.

4chan got hold of it first, populating the site with new fan-made photos.

YouTubers created their own horror films around the character. Most notably Marble Hornets, which released an 87-part lore web series for the Slender Man.

After that, the cult classic game was released. Anyone online at the time remembers how much this took over the internet. Everyone, everywhere, was asking how close you'd got to completing it (for the record: I was one point away from winning).

This was the peak of the meme's fame. It started to fade into obscurity — becoming a vintage meme. That was until 2018 when Sony Pictures released their motion picture called SLENDER MAN.

SlenderDAO enters the chat

And this is where the mission of SlenderDAO begins.

You see to create the film, a production company called Mythology Entertainment bought the media rights from the creator Victor Surge. A year after the release of the movie, the company split up. Unfortunately, that left Slender Man's media rights in a questionable position.

SlenderDAO aims to create enough of a media storm as well as raise money through the sale of NFTs that they will be able to buy the media rights from the production company.

It is important to note that this project is in its infancy. At the time of writing, they haven't contacted any previous employees of Mythology Entertainment nor do they have a ballpark figure on how much the IP will cost. Tracking down who owns the media rights is the biggest challenge this DAO will face.

This is a sub-DAO of a project called Hidden Ones. They released a feature film, last year, accompanied by 10,000 NFT profile pictures — of course! During this process, they got excited by the idea of decentralizing the IP of their movie through their NFTs, allowing holders to create their own films using the same characters, settings, etc.

So now they're trying it with Slender Man.

What is decentralized IP?

Decentralized IP is where a group of people owns an IP rather than an individual or organization.

There are multiple ways this can be structured. An obvious example is when owning a Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT, you are given licensing rights of the NFT you bought — the picture and character. However, you cannot use the BAYC brand.

Alternatively, you could make your project creative commons (CC0), meaning anyone can use your IP. However, this means there is no barrier to entry, no way to direct people using the brand, and no way to earn money. Every Tom, Dick, and Harry can create using your precious IP.

What SlenderDAO is aiming to do is unique.

If you stake your NFT, you will be able to create films, tv shows, books, YouTube videos, and more using the Slender Man IP. To prevent people from buying, staking then selling, you will be required to stake for the entirety of the creation of your project. You will also earn a portion of the profits the new Slender Man media is bringing in.

Another benefit of owning the NFT is that it gives you voting rights in the SlenderDAO. Here, you will be able to vote on what projects are funded. To be clear, if you are staking an NFT you can create your project without permission. Additionally, you can also apply for funding from the community, this will require a vote.

If this is done correctly. Slender Man will revert back to its golden days. No longer will it be starved by a dead production company but nurtured by a loving DAO community.

It's quite poetic really. A monster created on web2, that died in the clutches of traditional media, is being brought back to life with the evolution of web3.

Is this the future of IP?

Will we see decentralized IP become a norm in film and possibly other sectors?

Imagine a future where you could buy into a film franchise to create a spin-off series, or create a book adaptation. Finally, I can create my screen adaptation of my favorite Star Wars fanfiction!

How about an inventor who has created an amazing new piece of technology but doesn't have the funding or tools to create it, what if he decentralized the IP? That way, manufacturers could buy it and then share the profits that way.

The possibilities are endless. Decentralized IP is an interesting development in this rapidly evolving web3 space. It is exciting to see how this project evolves. If they can track down the IP and buy it, it might be the start of something very special.

Check out writer Ryan S. Gladwin's website, follow him on Twitter, and of course, subscribe to the weekly Hedgehog newsletter!