Nov 14, 2022

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What The Law? How to protect NFT Art in The Digital Space

Since digital art in the form of NFTs is gaining more and more popularity, Web3 artists are looking for ways to protect their artworks from counterfeit and illegal use. Let’s see what modern law regulations and digital technologies may help to secure NFT copyrights.

NFT: an object of exclusive rights

NFTs are authentic digital assets which can themselves be art objects, or represent real-world artworks (paintings, sculptures, etc.). All transactions and ownership records connected to a certain NFT are kept in the blockchain.

The intellectual property (IP) rights belong to the creator of this NFT. Authors may sell their artworks to other individuals, and they obtain the right to possess, trade and exhibit them. However, only the creator can make copies, mint and alter his/her NFT artworks.

Types of violations

Unfortunately, NFTs can be easy targets for “copyfraud” and infringement of the creator’s IP. There are several cases of how the NFT owner’s copyrights can be infringed. In some cases, individuals buy an NFT from its creator, and mint it on another blockchain without the author’s permission, passing it off as their own creation.

In another case, an individual simply takes a screenshot of an NFT art, then mints it and records himself in the blockchain as the original author. Other violations can include making unauthorized changes into the original artworks, hacking the blockchain, making illegal copies, etc.

IP in cyberspace

Intellectual and digital rights are protected by the law in most countries of the world. In Europe, the author gets copyright protection from the moment of creation, and 70 years after the death. Also, most jurisdictions rely on the principle of automatic copyright protection. These laws can be applied to resolve disputes in cyberspace, too.

However, practice shows that the enforcement of these rights isn’t always evident, especially in the digital space. Moreover, it’s far more difficult to identify and charge the violator on the internet. How can you sue a person who is thousands miles away from you?

Regulation trends in Web3

Still, the digital space has an even larger benefit — the blockchain. This technology can prevent counterfeiting since it creates ownership rights, and the data on the blockchain is immutable. Blockchain works as a trustworthy, cross-border public database to register works, though the transactions are anonymous and quite hard to track.

The best way to protect your NFT from copyright violation is publicity. Non-fungible tokens are as unique as the Mona Lisa in the Louvre. No one will believe an individual who claims he has the original painting, because everyone knows it is kept in the museum. The same with your NFT: the more people are aware it’s yours, the less is the chance of copyright violations.


All in all, there is growing interest in NFTs from a copyright perspective, as more and more artworks are being traded as digital tokens. Today we still face a lack of clarity about what you get when you buy an NFT.

But it’s believed that the blockchain technology will not only become an appropriate tool to register artworks in cyberspace, but also improve this process in real life.

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