Non-fungible tokens are gaining in popularity and value. They have become a prime target for cyber theft and hackers. As in the real-world, artwork can be stolen and museums keep the most valuable pieces under tight guard. You’ll also need to take measures to protect your NFTs.
In the real world, it’s very difficult to steal an art piece. Even if you managed to get past the armed guards at the Louvre, carrying the Mona Lisa through the streets of Paris would be a very conspicuous act. Since many NFTs are easily copied by simply clicking on the image and saving it, it is difficult to prevent theft or enforce the laws when NFTs are stolen.
How Buyers Can Prevent NFT Theft
In an article by Cointelegraph, Ronghui Gu (co-founder of CertiK) advised that if you own NFTs you can protect them from theft by storing them in a cold storage wallet.
Michael Pierce, CEO of NotCommon, suggested in the same article that you should always buy your wallet directly from the manufacturer, rather than through a third party, to reduce the chances of it being tampered with.
Gu also recommended some cybersecurity best practices.
- When buying or selling tokens, never click on links that look suspicious or unfamiliar.
- Safeguard your online wallet passwords.
- Restrict access to your wallet.
Also read: What is NFT Investing a Complete Guide
How Original Artists Can Prevent NFT Theft
You can only claim the NFT if you are the original creator. You can also take measures to prevent copyright infringement, theft, and duplication. You will first want to copyright the artwork. Copyrights may make it difficult to prosecute thieves, but they can prevent others from stealing and selling your artwork.
You can protect your artwork by using services like Adobe or DeviantArt. DeviantArt Protect scans marketplaces and blockchains for cases of infringement.
What is NFT Theft?
NFT theft can be defined as any unauthorized party who obtains, uses or shares an NFT that they did not create, or for which they have not purchased the rights, primarily to make money. Experts say that if someone copies an NFT, and then attempts to sell it on the blockchain, this is considered NFT theft.
You can easily do this by taking a screenshot and selling it anonymously via a crypto wallet. Ashli Weiss, an attorney, told Built In that “they’re taking artwork without permission and making money from it.”
Who owns the NFT Copyrights?
It becomes more complicated when you realize that the NFT owner may not be an original artist. The NFT may be owned by the original artist, but the purchaser only has the right to use the NFT. The original artist is responsible for enforcing their copyright.
According to Adrian Lawrence, an attorney at Fortune, “In a standard NFT sale, you are really purchasing a single instance of the image with a certificate of purchase.” In most cases, the rights to exploit the work are not included in a standard NFT sale. This copyright will be owned by the artist.
Is Stealing an NFT a Crime?
NFT theft can be prosecuted regardless of who the owner is — the artist or the person in possession of the NFT. It’s a crime only if the NFT is used for profit. Lawrence, Fortune reported that “certain uses, especially noncommercial and not-for-profit uses, will not necessarily be an infringement.” However, monetizing [a copy of an NFT] so it can be put on t-shirts would probably be.
Can my NFT be Stolen?
You can duplicate your NFT. This could be a form of copyright infringement or theft against the original artist. The digital image may also be stolen from the blockchain, if it is stored online.
The thief will take the NFT from your possession in this case. They could also steal Bitcoin, or move money from your bank account to theirs if they were involved in other financial fraud. You would not be able to enjoy the music or video from your favorite artist if it was an NFT.
If you can no longer display the NFT, then you will lose the privilege of being able to attend a special event or receive discounts and perks.
What Should I do If My NFT is Stolen
Consider the worst-case scenario: Your NFT was stolen because you didn’t keep it in a cool wallet. You may only have recourse if you contact the original artist, who will enforce their copyright. You can also contact the platform where you purchased the NFT.
You should issue a DMCA notice as soon as you discover that your NFT artwork has been stolen. This threat of legal action can often be enough to discourage thieves. If this doesn’t work then contact a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property to help you with your case.