Around the world, artists are fighting NFT theft because their artworks are being sourced and sold as NFTs, without permission. Many artists report that they spend hours every day fighting NFT thieves and reporting stolen artwork.
What is NFT
During the past year, NFT has become one of the most talked-about new digital technologies. Very easily explained, an NFT is a unique unit of data stored on a digital ledger (= a book or collection of accounts in which account transactions are recorded).
NFTs have mostly been used for selling and buying digital artworks, and the NFTS provides digital “proof” of ownership and certificate of authenticity.
Thieves selling stolen artwork as NFT
One big issue with NFT is that it is essentially free to upload any artwork on the marketplace. A fee is only paid when a sale is made. This is a perfect breeding ground for NFT theft.
So these NFT thieves are scraping the internet, such as Artstation, for artwork to steal. Some believe that they are probably even using AI to identify suitable artworks to steal, and they even steal artwork that has been watermarked and is in rather low quality.
I guess the only good news is that just because these thieves are selling the artwork, doesn’t it mean that people are actually buying it. Although, it probably has happened as well.
How artists can protect themselves against NFT theft
So, because of all these NFTs of stolen artworks, artists around the world have to dedicate hours of their work time to fighting these cases.
Here are some of the ways they are trying to protect themselves:
- Some artists are taking down all their work from the internet to protect themselves (which is very sad since that’s how they reach their audience and earn their living much of the time)
- Putting huge watermarks on their work
- Only publishing very low-quality versions of their art
- Reporting all cases they get notified about of stolen artwork
- Trying to organize legal actions against NFT thieves
But none of these solutions are really ideal because it affects artists’ marketing in a negative way. It is much harder to sell your art and market your work if it’s not on the internet, only shown in low-quality or has huge watermarks on them. And besides, all the time that goes into fighting these NFT thefts is taking away valuable time from when they instead should be creating or spending time with their loved ones.
NFT does not seem to have any good solution to this yet, and that’s one of the pitfalls of an unregulated market.
I believe one (amongst other) solution is to raise awareness of this issue so that buyers always look up if they are buying from the right source.
Of course, these types of art thefts have been happening for years. Even my own products that I used to sell were copied and sold by thieves. But since NFT is such a new thing, it gets a lot of praise without many critiques. And this topic is clearly one downside to NFTs.