Digital Marketing Company for Sale

NFT art sales are booming. Just without some artists’ permission.

NFT art sales are booming. Just without some artists' permission.
Written by publishing team

Digital thieves had stolen the Aja Trier before.

Trier, a San Antonio painter, often parodies Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” adding dogs or dinosaurs to it, or reimagining it as desert landscapes or Mordor from “Lord of the Rings.” She sells copies on mugs, mouse pads, and pillows, and over the years has been caught and stopped by people selling pirated copies of her business on Amazon and other online marketplaces.

But thanks to the explosion of the NFT art market, thieves have started stealing her work at an astonishing rate. Last week, an unknown user of OpenSea, the dominant marketplace for the burgeoning NFT art market, began offering tens of thousands of listings of her work, often duplicates, for sale. 37 of them were sold out before she could convince the platform to take them down.

“They kept taking them and reformulating them as NFTs,” Trier said. “It is very blatant. And if it happens to me, it can happen to anyone.”

The Trier story has already become popular in the burgeoning world of NFT art sales. RJ Palmer, a San Francisco artist who designs creatures and monsters both as commissioned digital works and for film and video game companies, said that issuing takedown requests to NFT platforms for his work became a daily chore before he finally gave in.

“It must be quite a lot. This has become a part of my day,” Palmer said, adding that he would constantly send out emails trying to remove NFTs. “That puts a lot of work on me. I just don’t want to deal with it.”

With the NFT art market taking off, regulations that ensure a buyer makes a legitimate purchase of digital property have failed to keep pace. Unknown thieves now regularly steal any digital art they can find online and pass it on as their own to sell. While NFT proponents tout the technology as a way to revolutionize sponsorship of the arts, the fast-growing digital markets that enable such sales have done little to stop this piracy.

Aja Terrier artwork for sale by an art thief. OpenSea has since deleted the list.Aja Trier

NFTs, short for non-alterable tokens, have proliferated as a new type of art market in the past couple of years, promising a way for people to prove they own a digital asset. Rooted in the same blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, NFTs have been dubbed for everything from “genius implementation of bragging rights” to digital certificates of credibility.

Actors, musicians, athletes, and even political campaigners have jumped into the space, releasing all kinds of digital talent connected to NFT. NFT’s trading volume has grown rapidly, reaching $10.7 billion in the third quarter of 2021, according to analytics platform DappRadar.

In the art world, NFTs were quickly promoted as solving a variety of problems. They have provided a way for artists to monetize digital art, ensuring that they can sell their work and even make money if their artwork is sold in the future. NFTs are not art per se but digital works, testimonials that can be attached to a piece of art and then bought and sold as a representative of the property.

But the rapid growth has also opened the door to rampant hacking and fraud. On most NFT platforms including OpenSea, the largest market for NFT, people can create an account and start selling any digital photos they want to upload. While that has helped OpenSea grow rapidly (the company announced on Tuesday it was valued at $13.3 billion in a recent funding round), the platform is barely moderated, forcing artists to actively patrol OpenSea and its competitors to try to remove their work.

In an email statement, an OpenSea spokesperson said, “We take thefts very seriously and have policies in place to meet our commitments to the community and deter theft on our platform,” and the company is actively expanding our efforts across customer support, trust, and site safety. “

Although there is little data showing exactly how common the problem is, there are some indications that it is widespread. One of them comes from DeviantArt, one of the largest digital art platforms on the Internet, which has been constantly scrutinizing the blockchains used by NFTs to alert users when copies of their work are displayed on NFT exchanges. Leat Gorwich, the company’s chief marketing officer, said DeviantArt has sent out alerts to thousands of artists since September.

Alerts from DeviantArt to Aja Trier that someone has made an NFT of her work.Aja Trier

“Art theft is nothing new. We are seeing it on a whole new scale with everything that has happened with the NFTs.” She said artists should take matters into their own hands to finish their work.

“At the moment, we are not aware of other solutions that artists can use,” she said.

Currently, the OpenSea process of taking down stolen image sales places most of the burden on artists. The seller does not need to provide proof of ownership or use their real name to start an auction, but the artist who submits a copyright notice is required to share personal information such as their real name and links that prove they are the real owner of the work.

Ashley Weiss, a Silicon Valley attorney who has published a guide on how to send copyright notices to NFT markets, said the burden on artists is exacerbated by the fact that many NFT thieves appear to be automated bots.

“These robots are not just looking for NFT art that has already been minted and they are trying to resell it,” Weiss said. “They go after artists who don’t even know what NFT is, and that honestly probably makes the fake sellers a lot of money because they don’t get people to hold back on.”

Although OpenSea tends to respond to requests for takedown, the actual idea of ​​copyright in the NFT space is tricky, said Brian Fry, a professor of intellectual property law at the University of Kentucky who sold his own art in the name of NFTs.

Since the NFT is not an actual image, but rather a digital receipt or document indicating an image, selling it would not infringe the copyright of the artist, he said. Only an image uploaded and hosted on OpenSea will do.

“everyone [an NFT] Ho, the URL says “Look at this place on the Internet,” Frye said.

“Telling someone to look at this URL, there is no copyright infringement there, because no original copyrighted item is copied for anything,” he said. “So the NFT itself is not relevant to the question.”

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