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Audience fave ‘Charlie bit me’ video to be auctioned off as NFT

The home video that has been viewed more than 880 million times is set to be sold as NFT to highest bidder — and then deleted forevermore from YouTube.

One of the most-viewed viral videos of all time is to be auctioned off as a non-fungible token. “Charlie Bit My Finger – again!” — first posted on YouTube 14 years ago — has been viewed more than 880 million times and will be taken down from the site following the auction.

The 55-second home video, uploaded on May 23, 2007, shows a cute moment between 3-year-old Harry Davies-Carr and his 1-year-old brother, Charlie Davies-Carr, sitting in an armchair when Charlie bites Harry’s finger. “Charlie bit me,” Harry says, before putting his finger back into Charlie’s mouth. Charlie bites harder this time and Harry says: “Ouch!” repeatedly as Charlie starts to giggle. Harry then smiles and says: “Charlie bit me. And that really hurt, Charlie. And it’s still hurting.”

The popular video is being recreated as an NFT — a unique, non-interchangeable digital asset whose authenticity and true ownership is tracked on a blockchain — and sold off at auction on Charliebitme.com. The winning bidder will also have the opportunity to create their own version of the video featuring its original stars, Harry and Charlie.

The auction, hosted by NFT platform Origin Protocol, will start on May 22 — the 14th anniversary of its upload. The video will be deleted from YouTube at the end of the auction on May 23.

But the video will live on as an NFT on the blockchain. Interested bidders will need to register and deposit cryptocurrency ahead of the auction. The auction will accept stablecoins Tether, USDC, DAI and Origin Dollar.

“This video captured our collective consciousness 14 years ago, and this is our chance to get everyone talking about it for one last time before the video is deleted from YouTube forever,” said Origin Protocol co-founder Josh Fraser, in an email sent to Forkast.News

Origin Protocol was behind American deejay and electronic dance music producer 3LAU’s auction of 33 NFTs for US$11.7 million in February. 

Adding value

Removing the video from YouTube gives value to the NFT by making it scarce, Fraser said in a follow-up interview with Forkast.News. He said the family behind the video had reached out to Origin Protocol after seeing the firm’s record-breaking auction with 3LAU.

“This video was one of the viral videos that really helped establish YouTube as the original platform for creators,” Fraser said. “Today, NFTs are a new technology that has the potential to be just as revolutionary for creators as YouTube was 14 years ago.”

Origin Protocol co-founder Matthew Liu, who was one of the first product managers at YouTube, told Forkast.News: “There is a bit of this bittersweet feeling around the deletion of this video, but we think it’s a very, very innovative way for the creators to make a decision as to what they want to do.

“Ultimately, I do think there’s tremendous value in having a single authenticated piece of content that everyone around the world can verify,” Liu added. 

He cited the example of the Mona Lisa, noting that millions of prints and digital replicas of the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece existed, but that the only original was in the Louvre and that it had tremendous value. He said that if all the digital copies and prints from around the world suddenly became unavailable, the original artwork would become even more valuable.

“And so this is a bit of an experiment and we’ll see exactly how this goes and what the new owner who ends up winning the auction does with this piece,” Liu said. “It could be a really interesting experience for them to showcase their NFT to the rest of the world and encourage people to go and see the video there.”

Content creators turn to NFTs

The video, which turned the two U.K. boys into internet sensations, was initially not meant to be shared publicly. Their father, Howard Davies-Carr, told Forkast.News that he had wanted to have videos of his children growing up and that the “Charlie Bit My Finger” video hadn’t been planned. He said he had happened to be filming at the moment when Charlie bit Harry, and that he had uploaded the video to YouTube for other family members to watch. 

“It was definitely one of the first videos that was made available so publicly on the YouTube platform,” Davies-Carr said. “When we joined YouTube in 2007, we were one of the first people to sort of embrace the platform.

“It was fairly new and we’re having this NFT auction on the 14th anniversary of putting the video up on YouTube,” Davies-Carr said. “And to us what we’re really doing is, we’re embracing something which is coming along, something which is new, in the same way we did back then, and trying it out, seeing all that’s going on in the NFT environment.”

The Davies-Carrs join a growing number of internet content creators who are turning popular or artistic content into NFTs to cash in on a craze that some critics have likened to a bubble. Earlier this month, an NFT titled “David After Dentist” — a YouTube video of 7-year-old David Devore Jr. that was uploaded in 2009 and that also went viral with more than 140 million views — sold for 3.30 ETH, or over US$10,000, at auction.

NFTs are driving a new model of content ownership, and more artists, such as Beeple, musicians, celebrities and brands have also jumped onto the NFT bandwagon. Although NFT sales dipped in April following a period of explosive growth, any decline in sales and values may be short-lived, according to data provider DappRadar’s April 2021 Dapp Industry Overview

“Big brands, such as MLB, Playboy, and celebrities, such as Snoop Dog and Paris Hilton, might drive the industry into a new wave of growth,” the report said. 

As interest in NFTs has grown, marketplaces for the tokens have flourished. Last month, Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by market value, announced that it would launch an NFT marketplace in June, joining the likes of OpenSea, SuperRare and NBA Top Shot. Even e-commerce website eBay now has NFTs for sale on its platform.

“We did see a bit of a miniature hype cycle in March, followed by a slight cooling of sales in April,” said Liu, of Origin Protocol. “But in May, we’re seeing with resounding confidence that the NFT market is booming,” he added. “I think we’re at the very, very early innings here.”

Fraser added: “Many people are coming into crypto for the very first time because of NFTs.”

Davies-Carr said that although the royalties made from the YouTube video had gone towards the boys’ private education, the decision to auction the NFT of the video was “simply about blockchain.” 

“We’re embracing it. It’s interesting. It’s the next thing,” Davies-Carr said. 

Echoing his father’s sentiments, Charlie Davies-Carr, who is now 15, said: “It’s like the new thing, like when YouTube first started it was the new thing, and now NFT is the new thing. It’s exciting to get involved in.” 

See related article: Beyond NFT’s hype: Artists and crypto experts take a hard look at NFTs