Art media

The flip side of the NFT art world: theft and plagiarism

It’s raining non-fungible tokens (NFT). A new NFT is “dropped” almost every two minutes, blowing up the crypto art scene like anything. According to DappRadar, a global decentralized app store, NFT transaction volume totaled more than $23 billion last year, an increase of more than 20,000% from less than $100 million in 2020. But this boom comes with a disappointment, because it is marred by a slight upside. in the number of instances where works of art are stolen, minted as unique digital assets on the blockchain, and offered for sale on NFT marketplaces.

For example, G Sujan, an NFT artist and photographer based in Vishakapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, who hit a slew of his photography collection and came across duplicates of his work listed as NFT in the open sea – a market for NFT. “I create NFTs using the Ethereum blockchain. And, to mint our works, we have to pay something called gas fees which are transaction fees. We have to pay these fees in advance; that means it there is some investment on the part of the artist.But there are other blockchains like Polygon Mat also known as Matic which are absolutely free.There is a lot of anonymity in the NFT market and n anyone can create an NFT by creating a wallet. As it is anonymous, a random number is given and there is no way to determine the identity of the person.

The scammer took screenshots of Sujan’s work and created it as an NFT on the Polygon blockchain. “This is a copyright and security violation,” Sujan alleged. He added, “To buy my work, you will put the name of my collection in search on the NFT market. Chances are you are buying it from the fake account. And what makes it worse is that when you sell it, the royalty will also go to the scammer. If the art is sold multiple times, the artist loses the royalty they earn from the sale. The royalty for the creator is the benefit of the NFT. No matter how many times an NFT is sold, the royalty goes to the original creator.

Earlier in January, Aja Trier, an artist from Texas, USA, tweeted about her painting, which has turned into nearly 86,000 NFTs. In another case, it was reported that after the death of digital artist Qing Han, also known as Qinni, his artwork was stolen and sold as NFT. On Twitter, an account called NFT Thefts (@NFTtheft) actively reported and called out scammers for stealing and plagiarizing artists’ works. A quick scroll through their Twitter page gives a glimpse of the dark turn the world of NFT and crypto art has taken.

Utkarsh Shukla Founder YUG Metaverse said, “If you look at a fundamental level, NFTs are not about proving ownership, although they are being sold as content ownership. At the keystroke level, NFTs are primarily about content origination and content post tracking. In the current lot of these markets, what they do is anyone can go in and anyone can hit anything. There is no confirmation of ownership that this person making the NFT owns it. It becomes a huge challenge. Anyone can copy anything and hit it. Users who buy and sell NFT own that content.

Shukla added that tracing the source of content is tricky because NFTs only track origin and subsequent ownership. “If you’re talking about pre-origin, then NFT is not in that legal sphere, where it can be tracked if you own it. To do that, there has to be legalities and even the government has to be involved What these marketplaces do is every time an NFT is released, and if someone complains, they take down the stolen work, but that’s not sustainable in the long run, because you can’t track every NFT.”

Tracking plagiarized work in the digital space is extremely difficult due to the decentralized nature of blockchain. “There could be a centralized option, but that also has issues because at the heart of it, blockchain is a decentralized concept, which is essentially not governed by any specific jurisdiction. For example, if I take the job from an artist in India and I sell it to someone in the US, and that person then resells it to someone in Africa then I can’t go ahead and file a lawsuit in different continents! There has to be a blockchain protocol,” Shukla said.

There is no single solution that can put an end to art theft, but NFT markets employ measures to prevent NFT theft. “We do extensive background checks, including social media due diligence. Before onboarding an artist, we check if they are already represented by an established gallery or if they have had solo or biennial exhibitions. We aim to prevent counterfeiting of art in the future by using authentication methods based on the latest technologies such as blockchain and NFC tags,” said Jothi Menon, founder of RtistiQ, which is a marketplace of physical and digital art that brings together works of art created by artists from over 38 countries.

Sunny Bhanot, CTO and Co-Founder of Rario said, “Our mission is to create a safe and secure ecosystem for cricket fans to collect, trade and play with officially licensed digital collectibles of their players and moments. favorites in sports. Our platform and smart contracts are certified secure by the world leader in security. It’s a closed-loop ecosystem where every collectible is legitimate, minted in a controlled environment, with provenance available on IPFS and proof of ownership and transfers available for the world to see on the polygon blockchain.

The author tweets at @Namyasinha