This paper discusses two popular concepts in the legal world, the public trust doctrine and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). For the first time, it explores whether litigants could successfully use the doctrine to protect valuable NFTs. The public trust doctrine is the legal principle that the government holds and manages land under navigable water and closely associated natural resources in trust of the people. NFTs, on the other hand, are unique collections of cryptographical data that represent ownership of a digital artwork. This paper reconsiders the question of what exactly the scope of the public trust doctrine is and how its arguably ancient precepts limit its application in a modern context––a much needed exercise for a doctrine so heavily written about but so easily confused. The crux of this paper argues that while the doctrine’s expansion to things like art and data is a stretch, expansion to NFTs is a titanic departure from the doctrine’s historical scope and underlying policy justifications. Accordingly, modern courts are unlikely to apply the doctrine to NFTs, regardless of wide academic support for the doctrine’s general expansion.

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