Kelp.Digital
Published in

Kelp.Digital

I stole my CTOs 10 ETH NFT!

I know, you might be thinking… “Well… You better go find yourself a new job!”

Fortunately, that won’t be necessary, as he got the point I was trying to prove:

NFT platforms DO NOT CARE about protecting digital artists’ work.

If you are thinking about selling your artwork as an NFT, or already doing so, keep on reading.

NFTs are a great idea. Buy digital art, get unique pieces and support your favorite artists. However, as they currently work, NFTs are nothing more than an overhyped faulty concept with large windows for theft & scam.

To prove my point, I will now show you how EASY-PEASY is to steal someone else’s work and monetize it as an NFT.

I was browsing around my CTO’s NFT marketplace profile in Cargo App when I saw this beautiful NFT of a person with a kite walking down the beach. It might be my love for kitesurfing, but I do love that picture A LOT!

Since I didn’t really want to ask for the pic, I just went ahead and right-clicked the NFT to download the image. There were no problems whatsoever; in less than 3 secs, the “metadata free” JPG was mine.

I took it from here

Here lies the first and broadly-acknowledged problem with NFTs: anybody can download the content of your NFT.

I know what you might be thinking: that doesn’t matter because the NFT itself is unique. After all, the transaction has been stored in the blockchain, etc.

You are right about that, but there is more. Stay with me.

With my freshly downloaded picture, I went ahead and created an account in Mintable, another NFT marketplace. After that, I went straight to see if I could use the same JPG to mint an NFT or if their “Authenticity Scan” would stop my evil act.

The good (or bad) news is that it didn’t. As the video shows, the platform ran a reversed search on my image and found some “visually similar” random pictures but nothing major. My beautiful guy with a kite was one step closer to becoming a unique digital art piece… again(!).

I copied-pasted the title and the description, few clicks here and there, and… Done!

I had my own NFT of my CTOs picture and was able to put it for sale for a much lower price (you never know, someone might buy it ;).

After my evil act turned into a grand success, I went all happy to tell my CTO.

Let’s see his answer:

However, after I explained the whole process, how easy and smooth it was, he forgave me under the condition of writing this article to bring awareness to other digital artists about this. 😇

So here I am. Showing you how cruel some individuals can be and how poorly digital content is protected in the wildness of today’s internet. You can reflect on it and do your own research. Btw, if you want to know more about NFT’s dramatic relationships with copyright, check another article I wrote on the topic.

In the case above, I deliberately played a bad actor, guilty. But shouldn’t the marketplaces themselves have a bit more sophisticated “authenticity verification” process in place?

I believe that if we want NFTs to succeed as a representation of something unique (whether it’s digital art or any other kind of object, real or virtual), authorship verification is a must, and we need it NOW.

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