Art theft has become a major problem in the world of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) as grifters look to make a quick buck from the works of others. The nature of the online goods means it’s very difficult to confirm who owns the NFTs being sold and if the sellers have the legal right to sell that work on any platform. Progress on a solution has been slow, but it does appear new tactics from hosting companies like DeviantArt are working.
DeviantArt recently implemented a new system designed to help identify stolen artwork in the wild by using machine learning to locate works that may have been stolen. This comes under the website’s DeviantArt Protect service, an image recognition software which detects copyright infringement for all artwork uploaded to DeviantArt.
It’s even able to detect subtle variations in stolen artwork, including if an image is cropped, flipped or slightly altered to avoid traditional image detection systems.
The update to the service, which is available to all DeviantArt Core members, includes a new ability to scan public blockchains and third-party marketplaces for any copyright infringements that artists may not be aware of. And it appears the system is already doing good work, with one Twitter user calling out NFT platform OpenSea for hosting a stolen version of their Gwent artwork.
— akreon (@_akreon_) September 10, 2021
While the solution isn’t perfect, and it’s likely there are still enterprising NFT sellers taking advantage of artists’ hard work, it’s a good step towards fighting a problem that’s quickly becoming endemic.
It’s also a system more companies should be adopted.
Earlier in the week, platform BattlesHero was seemingly booted off Twitter and the web for stealing key art from indie game Wildfire, an act that’s becoming far too common as artists continue to navigate the tricky seas of NFT sales.
While NFTs certainly have an audience, it’s important to remember these platforms are still largely unregulated, and unless you’re purchasing items directly from trusted sellers, there’s a high chance you could be actively participating in the stolen artwork market.
Tools like DeviantArt Protect are important for shifting the tide against malicious NFT resellers, but until the industry has more oversight and accountability for items uploaded by individual sellers, artists will need to protect themselves with constant vigilance. Art theft is an essential issue in the new era of digital art, and while NFTs can benefit creators, they’re doing more harm than good right now.
If you’re an artist looking to protect yourself, signing up to DeviantArt’s Protect program is a good first step, but be wary — your art can be easily stolen and resold on these new, unregulated NFT platforms. Protect is a good start, but more still needs to be done.