big names in art warn about NFTs

In a column published on Wednesday, a collective of artists warns against non-compliance with copyright in the field of digital art.

While the NFT market is experiencing a period of slowdown in 2022, it has experienced a period of strong growth in 2021, with a transaction amount of $ 17.6 billion. In the field of art, NFTs are starting to make their way, but they do not escape the issue of copyright, recalls a collective of artists in a forum published on Wednesday.

Recall that an NFT (“Non Fungible Token” or non-fungible token) is a digital security, issued by a blockchain (mainly Ethereum), and associated with a digital asset (photos, videos, etc.). Each NFT is unique and cannot be reproduced. NFTs are used in art, in the luxury industry or for figurines in sports.

Several “thousands” of withdrawals of works on OpenSea

Among the signatories of this forum is in particular ADAGP, the society of authors of graphic and plastic arts, which represents more than 200,000 artists and helps them in particular to manage the issue of copyright.

“We are not against the phenomenon of NFTs, which provide a useful technological response to artists who wish to sell digital works. On the other hand, since the market is not sufficiently regulated and structured, we want to recall the regulatory framework and ask for the responsibility of the creators. of NFT, which, when they wish to use the work of another artist, must necessarily request authorization: these are the very principles of copyright “, explains Thierry Maillard, director of ADAGP.

The association believes in particular that it has addressed a large number of cases of NFT linked to pre-existing works by well-known “wildly created” artists. The company explains that it has notably carried out several “thousands” of withdrawals of works on the NFT OpenSea exchange platform in the past six months, most notably NFTs which use some works by artists represented by ADAGP, such as Chagall, Magritte or Miró or even Picasso.

“If we get the delisting of works from the OpenSea platform easily enough, this does not make NFTs disappear from the blockchain, so that they can still be the subject of transactions. We work with public authorities, and in particular the Ministry of Culture, to ensure that the delisting is more advanced, and that in particular NFTs that are counterfeit or proven false can be permanently ‘burned’. These unauthorized NFTs must no longer be able to circulate “, explains Thierry Maillard.

In January, the OpenSea platform specifically admitted that 80% of the images turned into “NFTs” on its platform were fake or stolen.

The collective of artists refers in particular to international rules on copyright, which appear in particular in the Berne Convention (1886) or in the WIPO Treaty (1996). “In the absence of authorization from the holder of the rights, it is legally a violation that can give rise to civil and / or criminal proceedings”, recalls the collective.

As for the artists he represents, he has “fortunately only noticed fraudulent NFT uploads but no sales reaching significant amounts, which would lead to legal proceedings,” explains ADAGP.

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