herman nft

There’s a lot of confusion in the cryptosphere around intellectual property rights. This is mainly centred around NFTs being rampant with “art theft” in the form of “minting” other people’s artwork and selling them as NFTs.

However, I’m interested in clarifying something else:

If you have an NFT (let’s assume bought directly from the artist and not illegally minted), you do not own the usage rights to that work. You can’t print it on t-shirts and sell them. Copyright and other forms of intellectual property rights are social contracts and legally binding. They have nothing to do with cryptography (ask the people who were minting Magic the Gathering cards about this).

When you buy an NFT what you own is a receipt of purchase which you can brag about on Twitter. That’s it. Some people in the NFT space refer to this as “clout”, and good for them. They can buy and brag about their “clout”.

What I also find amusing is the proliferation of people who are suddenly very concerned about compensating artists for their work. Artists have always (famously) struggled to make ends meet, and the way that people who have never given a damn about this before are using this to disingenuously push their speculative asset agenda is pretty disgusting.

Artists all over the world have come out en-masse against NFTs since it is rampant with other people minting their artwork without permission, as well as the cheapening of their artworks through speculation. There have been instances of artists boycotting companies that consider getting involved in the NFT space. I know, I run a web app and community for artists. My payment provider was one of those companies which started thinking a bit too aggressively about NFTs, and when this happened it lead to the largest churn of my company’s existence as artists left the platform.

This isn’t to mention the climate impact of this ludicrous system.

If you’re interested in learning both about the mechanics underlying the NFT system, as well as the social implications, I recommend this video.

And if you’re interested in more of my opinions, you can check out my blog.

- Herman Martinus