The Court in China Holds a Marketplace Accountable for NFT Theft: This Is How to Protect Your Artwork

A Chinese company located in Shenzhen filed a lawsuit against an NFT market operator, BigVerse. The dispute happened because the Hangzhou-based marketplace failed to check an NFT sold by one of its’ users and it turned out to be stolen. A user minted a non-fungible token (NFT) with a picture created by Ma Qianli, a freelance artist. 

The artwork depicting a cartoon tiger receiving a vaccine shot was sold by an unknown user for about $140. Qice, the company that filed the lawsuit, claimed that the seller of the NFT wasn’t the one who created it. The court in Hangzhou decided that the platform is responsible for the “illegal dissemination of works”, issuing a compensation of about $600 to Qice. Apart from this, the NFT itself was marked for deletion.

Although NFTs cannot be deleted like a regular file, they can be sent to an “eater address”. This means sending it to a cryptocurrency wallet address that doesn’t have a private key, which makes it impossible to sell. Crypto enthusiasts call this process “burning”, and this is the closest analog of deletion that can be with NFTs.

This case shows that authorities began to treat the NFT market seriously, even in China, with its’ government disregarding digital assets. And despite the fact that NFTs have largely gone beyond the borders of any country’s copyright laws, we have to remind you that obtaining an NFT doesn’t mean obtaining copyright!

NFTs, blockchain, and Blender

It’s been almost a decade since NFTs appeared and became publicly known. On the fundamental level, NFTs make it possible to bring classical economic concepts such as supply, demand, and private property to the internet.

The problem comes from the lack of mutual agreement in views on it: some people see it as a scam, while others think of it as a magic pill that will end copyright infringement for good. Actually, both of them are not quite right. Just a quick reminder: NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital tokens that exist on a blockchain and are linked to digital assets. 

Literally, anything with a digital footprint can be tokenized and this has provided artists with a new opportunity to share their work in unprecedented ways. Naturally, this couldn’t have avoided one of the most popular 3D art platforms, Blender. It allows users to build models with multiple objects, that have various attributes, like materials and motions, and by applying all the tools a user creates a collection of 3D renders.

Many artists became turning their art into NFTs since it makes it unique by digitally signing the piece. But the problem is that nothing stops malicious actors from turning somebody else’s artwork into an NFT and then selling it. This problem has been concerning the Blender community for a while now and caused a lot of lost profits for hundreds of authors.

Protecting your artwork

The rising popularity of NFT art has pushed many digitally-enabled platforms to grow their offerings for creators to feature their digital assets or intellectual property (IP) online. However, many of these platforms do not ensure that buyers are making legitimate purchases of digital ownership. 

Because of this, many artists are falling victim to the plagiarism of their work on NFT marketplaces and speaking out about their art being sold without their permission. To create a safer space for artists to thrive in this new environment more has to be done to provide greater IP protection for them.

One of such instruments is BlendedBoris, the CADChain’s plugin for Blender that registers copyright for 3d models

According to the law, the creators are the owners of their works until someone else claims a prior right on it. In case of dispute, it is crucial to provide proof of ownership, i.e., which version of the work came first.

To prove a valid copyright, the creator can provide a copyright certificate or other proof that establishes the date the copyrighted artwork was created.

BlendedBoris registers newly created 3d models and subsequent versions on blockchain and generates verifiable ownership certificates.

It provides a creator with proof ownership that can be used for takedown notice on various marketplaces.   

The precedent with the Chinese court can be the harbinger of changes to come. As we mentioned earlier, the main thing hampering the active use of NFTs is the lack of international compliance. This case with relatively small amounts of money shows that things are about to change. And BlendedBoris will help to make this change faster. Also you can try our product BORIS for Fusion 360 to empower your 3D designs protection.