Bad actors are starting to take existing artist's creations and tokenize them on the blockchain without the creator's knowledge.
However, some individuals will take an existing artist's creations and tokenize them on the blockchain without the creator's knowledge. Unfortunately, incidents like those have become frequently common and may prove rather difficult to bring to a halt.
Stealing Content on DevianArt and Social Media
RJ Palmer is a digital artist who has worked for multiple video game companies. Over his career, he has shared most of his work online through the DevianArt platform, among other outlets.
Russian creator Weird Undead also found that some of her artwork — shared only on Twitter — was somehow up for auction on the OpenSea platform. She resorted to legal action and successfully had the token removed from the auction platform.
The @TokenizedTweets Conundrum
Things took an interesting and problematic turn when the Twitter account @tokenizedtweets got involved in the NFT space, and it still remains unclear who set this bot up.
The way the bot worked was that @tokenizedtweet would create non-fungible tokens of tweets without alerting the tweet owner or asking for permission. Moreover, anyone could use the bot by merely tagging the bot in reply to the tweet they wanted to tokenize.
The @tokenizedtweets account was also involved in the theft of the artwork by Weird Undead mentioned above. As the account kept being mentioned in replies to her tweets, she got suspicious, which eventually led her to OpenSea and her filing of legal notices of copyright infringement.
While one may think a tokenized tweet will have no value, the NFT landscape works very differently. Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet as an FNT for over $2.5 million this year. However, when that technology is used for nefarious purposes like @tokenizedtweets has done, there needs to be some form of recourse.
For artist Rosa Menkman, the ability to have anything online tokenized as an NFT became very problematic. Four of her artworks were turned into "marble cards" through the MarbleCards platform — that platform lets users tokenize everything with an URL, either for better or worse. The “marble cards” were then put up for auction on OpenSea, creating even more friction between creators and the NFT industry.
Beating the Artist to the Sale
While the stories above are problematic in nature, things actually could be worse.
In late September 2021, artist Ludvig Holmen had a rude awakening when previews of his NFT collection were sold by someone else on an NFT marketplace. His first collection of 3D NFTs — dubbed GolemFactory — sold like normal (with him listed as the artist) and brought in 17 Ether.
As several individuals got duped in this presale, Holmen decided to come up with a way to compensate those affected by it. Although it remains unclear what will happen exactly, there have been talks of a free giveaway, among other options. Holmen primarily wants to make sure everyone else knows it was not him pulling the scam.
Stealing Artist Bios and Cloning Collections
Another threat vector to consider is the possibility of copycat NFT collections. More specifically, a legitimate collection can be stolen on the marketplace it is listed on, using the same name with the intent to trick investors into buying the fictitious collection. Not only will this defraud investors, but it can ruin the reputation of legitimate artists in the process.
Malicious Activity Continues
Unfortunately, its timeline is still updating every day with new incidents. While most of the problems occur on the OpenSea platform, other NFT marketplaces face very similar problems. Whoever mints their original art is seemingly never safe from theft or impersonation, creating an unsustainable future for the NFT industry.