The viral YouTube video Charlie Bit Me sold on May 23 as a non-fungible token (NFT) for about $761,000, with the creators offering to remove the original clip from the video platform forever.
But the internet needs not fear.
Charlie Bit Me will remain on YouTube, says Howard Davies-Carr, the father of the now-famous children featured in the video. The video has racked up 884 million views since it was first uploaded in 2007.
“After the auction we connected with the buyer, who ended up deciding to keep the video on YouTube,” Davies-Carr told Quartz. “The buyer felt that the video is an important part of popular culture and shouldn’t be taken down. It will now live on YouTube for the masses to continue enjoying as well as memorialized as an NFT on the blockchain.”
Davies-Carr said it’s heartening to see the buyer and the broader public understand the value of the video and confirmed that it will remain on YouTube for all to enjoy. The buyer who won the NFT at auction goes by the name 3fmusic and appears to be a music studio in Dubai.
NFTs and intellectual property rights
NFTs—digital copies of artworks minted on the blockchain—have been all the rage in recent months, and many meme makers have, like the Davies-Carr family, decided to cash in on their internet fame in this new way. Among the memes to sell as NFTs, Nyan Cat sold for $600,000, Disaster Girl sold for $500,000, and Bad Luck Brian sold for $36,000.
Buying an NFT does not give the owner intellectual property rights to the meme, nor does it necessarily diminish the ability of others to view it online. It’s really a collector’s item—if you would even call it an item—for meme megafans.
More Harry and Charlie for everyone
Davies-Carr confirmed that his family offered to remove the video from YouTube in order to boost the the sale price, while also adapting the clip to a new era. Just as the family had been early to YouTube, they wanted to be early to NFTs.
“After 14 years on YouTube through its many iterations, we did feel that NFTs would breathe new life into this piece of internet history,” Davies-Carr said. “I’ve always told my boys that beyond this fame, they are more than just the video.”
Carbon offsets for cryptocurrency mining
The funds raised from the sale will mostly go toward the boys’ university fund, their father said, but part will be donated to “carbon offset charities to offset some of the costs in mining”—referring to the carbon-intensive process of adding cryptocurrency transactions to the public ledger.
“I have dabbled in mining but only when I have excess power being generated from my solar panels,” he said. “This is something Harry and Charlie feel very passionately about, and they will be the next custodians of the planet.”