The counterfeit NFT problem is only getting worse

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Aja Trier is accustomed to having her art stolen — published without attribution, stripped off on T-shirts, and even printed on phone cases.

But when he opened his inbox on January 4, Trier was overwhelmed by an alert that art was stripped off on a whole new scale.Her viral Vincent van Gogh style painting Nearly 86,000 NFTs..

“I’ve seen other artists deal with NFT thefts, but not so much,” Trier said. The Verge.. “People said they had never seen it on that scale.”

Trier’s work was listed without her knowledge of OpenSea, one of the largest markets for buying and selling NFTs or non-fungible tokens. As long as NFTs exist, artists are complaining that fraudsters have stolen their work and created it on the blockchain. But artists say the problem is getting worse as the platform continues to generate billions of dollars in sales. The same day Trier discovered that her work had been stripped, OpenSea announced that it had raised $ 300 million at a whopping $ 13.3 billion.

Plagiarism and fraud have been a problem since the NFT exploded in early 2021, but something changed last fall. NFTTheft, A group of artists who emphasize the fraudulent list. (“If you basically live in hell and want to know how bad things are, you should follow us,” he asked to remain anonymous for fear of docking and backlash from crypto evangelists. NFT Theft admin said The Verge.. Before the artist saw the theft several times a day, that is, it was a tedious but manageable number to apply for deletion, but suddenly the artist did dozens, as in the case of Trier. I have seen hundreds, or even thousands of thefts.

The explosive growth is likely due to bots scraping artists’ online galleries, searching for keywords with Google Image Search, and using auto-generated text to create collections. Their list is skyrocketing in OpenSea.

That’s not a coincidence, NFT Theft said. OpenSea allows users to create NFTs using “Lazy Minting”, which lists NFTs for sale without writing to the blockchain. The seller doesn’t pay until the NFT sells, so the scammer can list any number of stolen items in the hope of robbing the sucker. While other marketplaces allow “lazy minting,” OpenSea’s popularity and its uneven screening system make it an ideal place for bots to lie.

One way artists have turned this over is thanks to the old online art platform. Earlier last year, DeviantArt introduced Protect, an image recognition tool, to notify users of piracy in the NFT marketplace, causing a flood of matches.

But once an artist is informed about the theft, it’s up to them to remove their list. Due to other misuses, Trier began submitting deletion requests under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) after receiving an alert in early January. However, she soon realized that it would take weeks to complete a separate request for every tens of thousands of rogue lists, in response to OpenSea’s request.

NFT Theft says OpenSea became less responsive as the artist’s voice grew louder thanks to Protect. In December, the popular Dutch illustrator Royce Van Barr got over it. List of 100 thefts I took off from OpenSea 48 hours after I blew up the company on Twitter. But her case is an exception.Artists with few followers report waiting for weeks or even Reject deletion..

NFTTheft sought to help by publicly embarrassing the market and revealing removal best practices. Artist in late December Reported that Google will issue a takedownHosting images on OpenSea by cloud services was more effective than going directly to the market. After that, NFT Theft worked with other artists to test and disseminate the strategy.

“It was the brightest hope we had in a few months,” they said.

An OpenSea spokesman said The Verge Selling NFTs using plagiarized content will notify you by email that it violates the site’s policies. This is enforced through account exclusions and bans. “We are actively expanding our efforts to customer support, trust and security, and overall site integrity,” they said, to remedy the problem.

The platform attempted a more collaborative effort to end the spam problem at the end of last month. OpenSea has announced that it will place strict restrictions on free listing tools. The reason is that “more than 80% of the items created with this tool were plagiarized works, fake collections and spam.” However, the NFT author was dissatisfied with this change and was immediately rolled back.

This issue will not be resolved immediately. Therefore, Mert Hilmi Iseri, a home entrepreneur at MATH Venture Partners, wants to simplify the process of issuing deletions. After talking to the artist last month, he and the two developers launched Sniffles NFT, an image recognition tool that automatically issues artist deletion requests. This tool is already in beta testing by 20 artists.

There are steps the marketplace can take to prevent rip-offs from being posted in the first place.

Another major NFT marketplace, Rarible, implements a human-managed validation system that encourages sellers and authors to link their social media accounts, and NFTs from unverified sellers appear in searches. By preventing it from being stolen, we have reduced theft.Realable said The Verge Since the introduction of the measures in early 2021, the number of users submitting reports of purchasing fraudulent or stolen NFTs has decreased by 90%.

Alexei Falin, co-founder and CEO of Rarible, said: The Verge..

However, according to Iseri, image recognition and market verification are nothing more than Band-Aid. The solution SnifflesNFT wants to build is a “blockchain-scale” reputation system that validates legitimate collectors, artists and sellers while penalizing fraudsters, regardless of market.

“”[Blockchain] It’s a very new space with lots of missing parts, “Farlin said. “The reputation system is good for the market as a whole, but it’s a complex problem to solve.”

Other artists are looking for a legal approach if the NFT marketplace can’t put it together.John Namester, a concept artist who works on popular video games SmiteStates that it is collecting evidence of class proceedings.Concept artist RJ Palmer who worked on Detective PikachuOn board.

“I stopped reporting [the thefts]”Pamer said. “I want to see if they sell, because I can prove my loss of income and damages in court.”

According to Tonya Evans, a professor at Penstate Dickinson Law School, who specializes in technology and intellectual property law, the class action has shown that the platform is “encouraged and profited from continuous and persistent infringement.” If you can prove it, you may succeed. However, the marketplace is protected from liability as long as it complies with the DMCA, which can protect the platform from user-created piracy.

The artist’s best approach, Evans said The VergeIs what many are doing: notifications of infringing platforms, registration of work with the US Copyright Office, and warnings of theft to the crypto community and social media.

“Without community support, there is no demand and virtually no market value,” Evans said.

Working on a fake list of 86,000, Trier continues to open the door to NFTs. She lists works for sale at the Invited Marketplace Foundation. Her frustration does not focus on format, but on the lack of proper protection in OpenSea.

“OpenSea has devastated the whole thing what NFTs are doing for artists,” Trier said. “In OpenSea, it’s the Wild West.”

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