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The non-fungible token (NFT) mania has inspired Ethereum fans to spend more than $224 million on crypto collectibles so far in 2021 through marketplaces OpenSea and Rarible, but many buyers may not understand what they actually own.
“An NFT is not that different from any other crypto purchase in that you are buying control over information in an entry in a ledger,” said attorney Nelson Rosario, one of the founders of Smolinski Rosario Law.NFT buyers don’t actually own the media files associated with their blockchain receipts, whether those files are JPEGs or GIFS or MP3s.
NFT buyers don’t actually own the media files associated with their blockchain receipts, whether those files are JPEGs or GIFS or MP3s.
The best way to know which aspects of the NFT craze will outlast this trendy boom is to look at the history of comparable assets. As it turns out, people have been making crypto collectibles for nearly seven years.
Zebedee co-founder Christian Moss, who has been working on blockchain-based games since 2014, said he stopped making Bitcoin-based collectibles because transaction fees shot up. To make matters worse, some buyers viewed tokens as investments instead of as toys.
“They were tokens on Bitcoin,” Moss said. “A lot of developers ended up trying to pump their tokens and prices. … It felt like people who played those games felt like they were investors on the board. I don’t want my game to be an investment vehicle. Then players might try to sue me if they lost their tokens. It changed the dynamic of the game.”
These days, Moss helps people earn small amounts of bitcoin by playing mainstream video games like Counter-Strike. That way, there’s no confusion about how to value virtual assets; cryptocurrency is money and in-game assets are toys.
“NFTs aren’t game items at all; they are receipts,” Moss said. “If you have the receipt, you might be able to get an item in a game, but they can’t allow a Zelda sword NFT [in Counter-Strike], for example, because that might be copyright infringement. There are legal implications there.”Indeed, legal implications are the crux of the NFT trend. Whether a court would protect the receipt-holder’s ownership over a given file depends on a variety of factors.
“It’s great if the artist intends to transfer any copyright for a work of art to an NFT purchaser, but can that be perfected to the point where a court of law or copyright office would recognize that transfer? That gets into additional questions of jurisdiction,” Rosario said. “Brands and platforms need to make sure they have the right agreements in place to govern these relationships.”
With regard to NFT sellers who take screenshots of other people’s content and profit from a corresponding NFT, Rosario said it’s hard to say whether that violates any laws.
“You probably start by looking at Twitter’s terms of service and begin the investigation there. It really depends,” he said, adding that impersonation or stealing someone’s passwords are different issues entirely.And there are still open questions beyond copyright issues and fraud, such as sanctions and porn regulations.
Finding a space for adult content
A growing number of adult content creators are selling erotic NFTs on platforms like Rarible, often earning hundreds of dollars per photo. One such artist, PolyAnnie, said she has earned more from selling NFTs on Rarible alone than her average annual earnings across platforms like OnlyFans, Patreon and ManyVids combined.
“I sold 90 NFTs, bringing in 10.11 ETH in five months,” she said. “I purchased 18 NFTs from other creators, too.” Some jurisdictions have age-verification requirements for platforms with adult content, while other jurisdictions make platforms potentially liable for child porn or revenge porn if the platforms don’t heavily moderate explicit content. As such, platform providers tend to be conservative about their terms of service.
“A lot of these NFT platforms don’t want to deal with the risks of sexually oriented content,” PolyAnnie said.
That’s why some sex workers have had their content censored by platforms like Rarible. As for the most popular NFT platform, OpenSea, which raised a Series A round from a16z earlier this month.
CEO Devin Finzer said his team moderates the platform and limits search results for adult content, so those NFTs can only be found by someone going directly to the creator’s profile. “We haven’t exactly nailed it down, but one option is a separate section of our
An Important Lesson From ConsenSys NFT Ecosystem
ConsenSys launches a more energy-efficient NFT ecosystem with a project from artist Damien Hirst as its first drop. The NFT craze has been an intriguing moment for digital artists who have seen great leaps in how tech has allowed them to create their work, but not as much progress in shifting how they profit off of it.
Though crypto’s early adopter artists have seemed to gain the most attention thus far, more institutionally present artists are dipping their feet into the token world. One of the bigger barriers has been the environmental concerns tied to the Ethereum blockchain, which required intense energy usage to mint new artwork, tied to incredibly high transaction fees, something that has invited controversy for early artists because of climate change concerns.
There have been a number of blockchain products to emerge in recent months that promise the benefits of Ethereum with greater speed, lower costs and lower energy usage, most notably Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain, which powers their NBA Top Shot product. Today, we saw the debut of a new “layer-two” entrant from ConsenSys, called Palm, which operates as a sidechain on Ethereum’s main network but will be supported via the popular crypto wallet MetaMask.
As part of Palm’s launch, the artist Damien Hirst announced he will be launching an NFT marketplace, his first, called “The Currency Project,” on the platform’s Palm NFT Studio. Ethereum has already committed to transitioning to a more energy-efficient proof-of-stake consensus structure, but it’s unclear how quickly that’s going to happen. The network currently relies on a proof-of-work system (as does bitcoin), which use an energy-intensive manner of prioritizing where the next block in a chain is mined that gets more intensive as a network sees more traffic.
It’s a reason why crypto mining operations have had to consistently invest in the latest hardware to maintain an edge and use more power. Proof-of-work does away with most of that, instead choosing nodes on the network to mine the next block based on reputation or their existing stake. There are some real security tradeoffs that have required workarounds though plenty in the crypto community aren’t quite satisfied with the compromises, though proponents argue that environmental concerns should take precedent.
In a press release, the team behind Palm says the ecosystem is “99% more energy-efficient than proof-of-work systems.” Unlike Dapper Labs’ Flow, Palm benefits from its interconnectedness with the community of Ethereum developers, something that was present in today’s announcement that showcased several industry partnerships including Nifty. The news arrived alongside details this morning of Dapper Labs’ monster $305 million fundraise that will give the company backing to build on the momentum of Top Shot, which has given the broader NFT space the wave of enthusiasm it’s currently experiencing.