Stolen content has found its way to consumers through streaming, by download, through social media, and – yet still – via physical media. Now, non-fungible tokens have emerged as yet another way to distribute and monetize stolen content. And not only do consumers think the content is legitimate; but also, use of the blockchain conveys the impression that the source is legitimate as well.
CreativeFuture sees NFTs as simply the latest way that pirate tech entrepreneurs find their way to profit, using the NFT marketplace OpenSea as its example. “First, create a platform where users can post (content) … Next, turn a blind eye wehn they upload illegal materials. Finally, monetize all that content.” CreativeFuture further notes that OpenSea is “largely immune to prosecution for user activities, thanks to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.” Meanwhile, OpenSea gets a percentage of every sale.
According to reporting by The Verge, “On OpenSea and Rarible, two major NFT platforms, you don’t have to verify you own something before putting it on the blockchain. Verifying yourself on these platforms is also not difficult; Rarible’s process involves submitting social handles for verification but doesn’t seem to check whether you own those handles, as in Laufman’s case. OpenSea, on the other hand, has foregone verification entirely. Its recommendation for buyers is now, ‘Do your own research.'”
And NFTs are just the beginning. CreativeFuture sees the next big risk in the Metaverse, “where NFTs already function as (property) deeds.”
- Read the CreativeFuture article (April 2022)
- Read the article by The Verge: NFT Mania is Here and So Are The Scammers (March 2022)
Why it matters
The theft of content is one of several forms of piracy described by Piracy Monitor; the others being the theft of services, advertising, infrastructure, devices & apps, and ‘theft of you.’ Theft and distribution of stolen content via NFTs is a particularly egregious act because it is fundamentally an act of fraud. At least in the examples cited by CreativeFuture and detailed in The Verge, thieves masquerade as creators and there’s no sure way to identify them.
Perhaps Piracy Monitor should expand “the theft of content” to “the theft of property” – especially if it can involve real estate; virtual or physical.