Digital Copies in the NFT Era

In our digital age, any content can be duplicated endlessly. Are the concerns surrounding unauthorized copies about the NFTs themselves?

besancia ·  · 09/06/22 ·  3 min

The Theft of Digital Art

NFTs have been erected as a solution to many of the problems faced by digital artists. Unfortunately,  in the face of high expectations and false promises, it would seem that NFTs have disappointed the general public.

Certain practices, including the unauthorized utilization and sale of works found on DeviantArt, Twitter, or other social media platforms, has garnered justifiable disdain towards NFTs. It resulted in creators in the space often being blacklisted from many artist communities. Reposting art that an individual did not create with the intention of taking credit for and profiting from the resale of the content without the express permission of the content creator and proper compensation is an authorized use.

The ability to copy and repost artist’s work without licensing or receiving permission from the artist, is an issue that needs to be addressed both within the NFT community, as well as in the general population. This problem is not localized to NFTs, for example how to prevent a tee-shirt store to use licensed art to sell their product?

Creator’s rights, and their ability to claim ownership of their work, is something that will need to be addressed in order to ensure Web3 is a safe environment for artists to work. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the internet, it is possible for content to be copied infinitely as soon as it is put online.

NFTs have the ability and have laid out the groundwork to ensure that artists can maintain usage rights for their work, but it is important to make sure that the community moves forward in an ethical and conscientious fashion.

Artificial Intelligence and Art Reuse

A recent example of ‘art theft’ that has been raising eyebrows concerns the artificial intelligence Dall-E or OpenAI. With a simple text input, these AIs are able to create artistic visuals corresponding to the desired query.

Without going into depth into the technical details, to be able to ‘understand’ the request, these AIs will draw from databases. Databases that are open source for code or with royalty-free images that can be found on internet.

The reuse of works is allowed, but taking over for oneself the work of thousands of people without crediting them is ethically questionable.

NFTs will not be able to solve the problem entirely, but can greatly reduce the risks associated with these practices.

NFTs are a Certification for Digital Creations

If there is a desire for ownership and traceability on a public blockchain, NFTs are a suitable tool. On the other hand, they do not make a distinction on the media associated with them.

To avoid confusion, we will talk here about digital visual works and not musical or physical. As a reminder, NFTs are not works of art. They are only a gateway to the artwork.

NFTs are not a medium, a means of hosting or even recognized by international bodies. For now. They are a way to timestamp information (author, smart-contract, date) on a blockchain. This is why we defined them as ‘digital certificates of authenticity’ that are visible and publicly verifiable.

This forgery-proof identification is essential to help decide between two conflicting entities, both in good faith. This is not infallible though, because knowing who minted an NFT does not necessarily prove who created the work first.

The NFT revolution in the visual arts therefore essentially concerns the certification of authenticity. No quick wealth “because it’s an NFT” but royalties and lifetime identification of the author. 

Web3 is About Owning our Data

Today the NFTs of the artistic segment belong to a niche sector. However, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter are very interested in it. From a more global use perspective of NFTs, this is excellent news, but there are concerns to keep in mind.

NFTs make it possible to have the certification of a digital asset, this is undeniable. But several questions remain:

  • If the image is stored on an external server, what do we really own?
  • if the rights are given to a third party when it is put online, what effective protection is there?

The fact that the  Web2 giants offer NFT-related tools is a good thing, but in the end, it is the artists who will decide what medium they will use for their creation. 

Regarding the storage of the media, no matter how it is put online, it is de facto decentralized in the best possible way thanks to infinite copies. 

There remains the question of the right to reuse works of art. Copyright has already shown on several occasions that it is useful for those who have the means to initiate long and expensive procedures. The best alternative would therefore be that of Creative Content, because of its accessibility and flexibility. It is up to NFT marketplaces (like Objkt) to offer them to artists during the mint!

Need help understanding the NFT ecosystem? Explore the NFT Academy
#Copyright NFT
#Digital Art
#NFT Adoption
#NFT Revolution

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