Artists share their frustration over stolen artworks becoming NFTs

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NFTs are the latest tech fad that’s taking the internet by the throat – they seem unpopular but they’re selling like hot cakes, earning thousands of dollars for those at the top of the pyramid scheme. These are basically receipts to tell you really own something, often jpegs and gifs, but games have decided to join in and further muddy the waters with cosmetics. The idea is that you can buy a skin for your M16 in Call of Duty: Warzone and waltz to Animal Crossing: New Horizons and hold Nook’s Cranny with that same skin. You can not. You never will. It’s ridiculous.

They’re silly, disastrous for the environment, and further exacerbate the infamous chip shortage – can’t get your hands on a PS5? Between scalpers, supply issues, and crypto bros buying up a server room full of graphics cards, it’s no surprise. But NFTs started out as something meant to support artists. They were supposed to give them a new way to sell their work and prove their ownership. However, as WendiBones explains, NFTs fail even that.

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“[NFTs are] another way to steal artists’ work and monetize them without there being any actual copyright checks,” WendiBones tells me. “NFTs aren’t useful for artists and it was probably a broker who said they were. Not all artists are good at monetizing their work, but with NFTs, artists think everything is easier. It’s not. It’s an illusion. It’s a chasm that opens management costs both for artists who sell the work and for collectors. I’m not an expert in economics but as many works are stolen, I think this mechanism will harm the artists and enrich the thieves.It is the last frontier of undeclared work and the consequences will be irreparable.



John Terry NFT

Stolen art is a big problem that artists face with NFTs. The largest online marketplace for NFTs is OpenSea, where most stolen artwork resides, yet little has been done to combat the problem, leaving artists to turn sour on OpenSea as a whole: “A site that allows its users to use Google’s database to submit their works is an accomplice of thieves,” WendiBones continues. “From an NFT site, I would expect it to only allow downloads from your own computer, but OpenSea is the Wild West. Many users who upload NFTs are robots and cannot be reported by someone who is not a member of their site. It looks like a gambling club where the bartender won’t let you in if you don’t pay them tax.


Another artist, Jarzard, thinks OpenSea should just be shut down, while Zaisey says their contact system is obtuse and needs work, “OpenSea isn’t helping artists right now,” Zaiisey tells me. “I haven’t found a way to report the person who stole my art, and while I could take it down, anyone at any time can re-upload any of my designs. OpenSea doesn’t care. not what people post on his website.Artists are the ones who have to find stolen art and fight to destroy it.

Another artist, Soturissi, accept. “NFTs don’t help artists and that’s bad for us because it’s very easy to steal other people’s work and sell it as NFT. And then we have the problem of getting our stolen art taken down of the site – we have to prove that the art is ours, but the seller has nothing to prove.



Gaming NFTs

Artists find their stolen art is quite simple – it’s the dismantling that gets tricky. WendiBones tells me that there is a paid service on DeviantArt that will search the web if someone has stolen your work and turned it into NFT. But if you don’t want to pay out of pocket, you can search your name on OpenSea or, as Jarzard puts it, follow NFT Thefts on Twitter. They aim to help artists find out if their work has been stolen and then they help to dismantle it. But once you find it, things get complicated. All four artists echoed the fact that you shouldn’t go straight to OpenSea. The site doesn’t do much to help remove stolen work, but there are other ways to do it.

“Do not contact OpenSea,” says WendiBones. “They won’t do anything. But OpenSea relies on Google’s servers, so contact Google and fill in this form. If you receive a long automatic response indicating that data is missing, reply by writing by e-mail: “this notification has ended”. This way, Google is obligated to continue and will usually remove the link from OpenSea within a week. The image will infinitely load on their server and you can sleep peacefully.

Otherwise, there is not much to do. “I couldn’t find a way to send a message to the person who stole my art,” Zaissey says. “I try to stay calm in these kinds of situations and try to explain to them why they should take down my art – and of course, ask them to do so. If they don’t cooperate, I try to contact the site web or ask for help.My last resource is always to post an article and share the word of stolen art to prevent people from buying it.


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But as Zaiisey said, removing an artwork doesn’t solve the problem. It can be reloaded at any time or other jobs can be stolen and turned into NFTs, essentially turning the whole thing into an endless, unbeatable game of Whack-a-Mole. OpenSea has no system in place to prevent this and so countless artists have taken to Twitter to vent their frustration as their work has been repeatedly stolen, turned into NFTs to make quick money for thieves line art. The very people NFT supporters claim to be helping are being wiped out en masse.

“I didn’t contact the person who stole my art – they posted it anonymously,” Soturisi tells me. “I was only able to contact the page they use to sell my stolen art. But if I could talk to them, I would say, ‘Burn in hell’. Stealing other people’s work is rude.


We’ve contacted OpenSea for comment, but haven’t heard back.

Next: Breaking Down Square Enix’s New Year’s Letter on the Metaverse and NFTs


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