In November 2022, we launched the Operator Filter: a tool designed to give creators more control by restricting the sale of their collections to web3 marketplaces that enforce creator fees in secondary sales. It was meant to empower creators with greater control over their web3 business models, but it required the buy-in of everyone in the web3 ecosystem, and unfortunately that has not happened. So we’re making a few changes to our approach to creator fees.
Starting on Thursday, August 31, 2023 we’re moving to optional creator fees on OpenSea in an effort to better reflect the principles of choice and ownership that drive this decentralized ecosystem. At a high level, this means four main things:
- We’re sunsetting the OpenSea Operator Filter on August 31. This means that starting on that date, the Operator Filter will no longer block any marketplaces.
- For collections that enabled the OpenSea Operator Filter prior to August 31, and for existing collections on all non-Ethereum blockchains, OpenSea will enforce the creator's preferred fees on all secondary sales from August 31, 2023 through February 29, 2024.
- We’re making it easier for buyers to identify secondary listings with the creator’s preferred fees included, starting on August 31.
- We’re making it easier for sellers to choose the creator’s preferred fee or customize their creator fees payment, starting on August 31.
To be clear, creator fees aren’t going away – simply the ineffective, unilateral enforcement of them.
Why it Didn’t Work
Since launching the OpenSea Operator Filter, we’ve reflected on a few big observations:
#1 The Operator Filter depended on support from everyone in the ecosystem to be successful and that just didn’t happen
The majority of volume continues to move to zero creator fees, a trend we’ve seen build steadily throughout this year. Since its introduction, we’ve seen several web3 marketplaces and aggregators (including Blur, Dew, and LooksRare) circumvent the Operator Filter to avoid enforcing creator fees on their platforms. The Operator Filter works by blocking certain smart contract addresses; so if marketplaces that do not enforce creator fees use the Seaport contract, then it’s technically impossible for the Operator Filter to block them without also blocking marketplaces that do enforce creator fees. This means that the solution requires uniform enforcement by everyone in the ecosystem, and is only effective as its weakest link. Unfortunately, the ecosystem did not adopt the Operator Filter.
#2 Choice on creator fees is important for both collectors and creators
When a collector buys an NFT, they’re receiving a provably unique digital item, with an assumption of full ownership and control over that item: just like physical items, owners can choose to hold it, sell it, or destroy it. We have heard from some creators that the Operator Filter limits their sense of control over where their collections are sold, and at the same time may collide with a collector’s expectation of full ownership. The Operator Filter’s restrictions come at the expense of decentralized ownership – so with these changes, we are giving collectors more flexibility and choice on creator fees.
#3 Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Creator Fees are just one of many revenue streams available to creators in web3, and our role in this ecosystem is to empower innovation beyond a single use case or business model
The potential applications and utility of NFT technology are too diverse for creators to depend solely on a single business model that only monetizes resale. We’ve dedicated a large part of our roadmap to power new use cases – starting with digital and physical redeemables – and to merchandise those use cases more effectively across primary and secondary experiences.
What the Changes Look Like in Practice
The changes will go into effect on Thursday, August 31, and come with updates for buyers, sellers, and creators:
For creators: We’ve updated our experience to make the creator’s preferred fee clearer to collectors (buyers and sellers).
- Existing collections currently using the OpenSea Operator Filter (up to August 31): we will enforce your designated creator fees on OpenSea through February 29, 2024. After that time, creator fees will be optional.
- Existing collections on all non-Ethereum blockchains: we will enforce your designated creator fees on OpenSea through February 29, 2024. After that time, creator fees will be optional.
- New collections: creator fees will be optional for all new collections beginning August 31.
- Existing collections that are NOT using the OpenSea Operator Filter: No changes – creator fees will be optional.
For buyers: We are adding a filter to the collection page to help buyers look for listings that pay the creator’s preferred fee. We're also clearly identifying these listings directly on the item pages.
For sellers: We’re making it easier for sellers to choose the creator's preferred fee or set their own custom fee when they list.