There’s a market for pretty much anything digital today and ‘collectables’ in particular sell like hot cakes.
The non-fungible token (NFT) rage shows that people are willing to pay vast amounts of money for a digital gimmick, that may or may not retain its value.
These digital entries, stored on a blockchain, allow the buyers to prove that they are legitimate ‘owners’ to some underlying asset. While it’s different from a copyright, NFTs owners are rightsholders in a sense, although the specifics may vary from project to project.
Over the past year, there has been a boom in NFT projects. Not seldomly these have raised precarious copyright issues. There are NFT projects ‘copying’ other NFTs, for example, and in some cases, people simply issue NFTs based on existing copyrighted works owned by others.
These ‘conterfeit’ or ‘pirate’ NFTs use digital versions of art, photos, music, logos, without the permission of rightsholders. They are then sold for serious money. Needless to say, this is an open invitation for legal trouble.
A few days ago, the RIAA stepped in to stop one of these unauthorized projects. The anti-piracy group, which is known to go after traditional pirate sites and services, sent a cease and desist letter to the music NFT platform HitPiece.
The site used artists’ names and album art, suggesting that the NTFs could give fans access to their idols. This included several top stars such as Taylor Swift, as shown below.
Most of the musicians were not involved. The site was quick to shut down when pressure mounted, but the RIAA is not letting the operators off the hook yet, demanding a complete overview of the revenue that was made.
The HitPiece drama is just the tip of the iceberg, however. Behind the scenes, major rightsholders are growing increasingly concerned about NFTs, and various other digital projects.
Decidated NFT Anti-Piracy Solution
To curb this trend, Italian anti-piracy outfit Digital Content Protection (DcP), which works for clients such as Universal Music, Warner Music, and Sony Music, has launched a new takedown service specifically targeted at NTFs and Web 3.0-type projects.
TorrentFreak spoke to DcP CEO Luca Vespignani, who tells us that new technologies are developing rapidly and that there are large financial interests at stake. The company’s new anti-piracy service helps to protect copyright and trademark interests when it comes to NFTs, Web 3.0, and the metaverse.
One of the solutions offered is a monitoring and takedown service that detects potentially infringing content and requests online services and platforms to take it offline.
While DcP can’t change blockchain entries, it can target listings on popular NFT markets such as OpenSea and Rarible.
“Basically, we crawl web 3.0 resources such as NFT markets, virtual reality platforms, and in-game platforms looking for unauthorized NFTs, bad actors and rug-pulls,” Vespignani tells us.
When infringing content is found, the anti-piracy outfit can send a takedown notice to have it removed. Another option is to document the infringing activity and build an evidence log so rightsholders can take legal action.
“After the monitoring, we either sent a notice and takedown request or we compile a forensic archive of copyright infringement evidence, to support potential legal action,” Vespignani says.
The new anti-piracy service was officially announced at the Sanremo Music Festival a few days ago. Interestingly, that also provided one of the first takedown opportunities as several clips from the festival were offered for sale as NFTs at Opensea.
These unauthorized NFTs were detected by DcP’s monitoring service and were removed from Opensea following a takedown notice.
The anti-piracy group also shared some information on its first takedown, which was a Roblox case. While this is not NFT-related, it could be considered a precursor to the metaverse concept, as it targeted someone who sold tickets to a digital Warner Music venue on Roblox, without permission.
“The first action we carried out was on Roblox. A virtual space called Warner Music Venue was created there and the idea was to host music events. Users were allowed to participate after the purchase of virtual tickets with the platform’s Robux coin.”
Access to this exclusive VIP club cost 60 Robux, which is roughly $0.75. While that’s not really expensive, it’s easy to see how these things can get out of hand. Soon after DCP informed Roblox about the unauthorized activity, the listing was taken down.
As far as we know, DCP is the first anti-piracy outfit to launch a takedown service specifically tailored to NFTs, Web 3.0, and the metaverse. That said, many others are keeping an eye on it as well.
Aside from RIAA’s action against HitPiece, several copyright-related NFT disputes are being fought out in court. At the same time, platforms such as Opensea are regularly targeted in traditional DMCA takedown notices.