Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continue to gain traction in the digital world. They proved to be a profitable investment for many. But also as a way to help artists monetize their work. As the NFTs industry continued to grow, however, content creators faced a very different challenge. A new wave of piracy broke out, with no easy solution. Because NFTs are entirely digital, it has become easier to steal art and sell it for large sums of money.
San Antonio-based painter Aja Trier talks about her struggle to stop her work from being stolen. She has been selling different versions of Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night” on mugs, mousepads, and pillows for years. Trier pointed out that during the same period, she caught and stopped several people selling pirated copies of her art on online marketplaces like Amazon.
However, with the advent of NFTs, the number of pirated copies of her works increased tremendously. Trier pointed to the case of an unidentified OpenSea user who posted tens of thousands of listings of copied versions of her works for sale on the marketplace last week. She recalls that 37 NFTs were sold before she was able to convince OpenSea to take the remaining pieces off the market.
“Someone just took them and repurposed them as NFTs. That is so shameless. And if it happens to me, it can happen to anyone.”
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The NFTs industry grew too fast and overtook the development of marketplaces
While Trier’s experience may seem like an isolated case, she is far from the only artist to find fault with NFTs. RJ Palmer is a San Francisco artist who designs monsters and fantastical creatures. He said he has since given up sending requests to NFT marketplaces. Stealing his works has simply become a daily routine.
Initially, he sent emails asking marketplaces to remove the NFTs. But when the problem kept repeating itself, he got tired. It seems there are more than a few who sell an NFT in such an easy way and then withdraw the proceeds as Ether coins. Palmer said that sending out the requests eventually took him way too much time. He just doesn’t want to deal with this issue anymore.
Meanwhile, data from DappRadar shows that the NFT market saw $25 billion in trading volume last year. That’s an incredible increase compared to 2020 figures when sales were just $94.9 million. With piracy concerns on the rise, it’s obvious that NFT marketplaces are not doing enough to protect copyright holders. They have so far failed to develop systems to cross-check content listed by users.
To address the problem of piracy, leading digital art platform DeviantArt has stepped up its efforts to prevent art theft. The platform has started using AI algorithms to automatically find pirated content. Users are then alerted when someone posts a copy of their artwork as NFTs. According to reports, DeviantArt has sent out thousands of alerts since September last year.
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