If there is any group of people that have been heavily involved in the rise of NFTs, it has been artists. The most valuable NFT ever sold was a piece by artist Beeple and creators all over the world have been minting and selling their works as NFTs.
At the same time, this movement has not been without some controversy. For example, it has been reported in the past that some artists’ works have been minted and sold as NFTs without the creator’s consent.
However, it seems the law is starting to catch up to the crooks who do this as a Chinese court has given a judgment against NFT marketplace NFTCN.
The lawsuit in question was borough forward by Qice, a company based in Shenzhen, against the NFTCN platform and its parent company BigVerse. In the suit, it was alleged that a user of the platform had stolen the artwork of artist Ma Qianli.
The artwork in question was a cartoon of a tiger getting a vaccine shot. The unnamed user allegedly stole the artwork, minted it as an NFT and then sold it on NFTCN for roughly $137.
The court has now ruled that NFTCN did not carry out the due diligence to make sure that the person selling the NFT on their platform had the right to do so. This, the court says, infringed on Ma’s “right to disseminate works through information networks.”
As part of the ruling, BigVerse has to pay compensation of roughly $611 to Qice and also has to stop the NFT of stolen artwork from being circulated. How this will be done is that the NFT must be sent to an eater address.
Sending an asset to an eater address means it will be put in a wallet that has no private key and thus, cannot be used for transactions. This is commonly used when tokens are being burned and now, will be used to take the NFT off the market.
Furthermore, the ruling instructed BigVerse to put a new system in place to determine the copyright status of the assets being minted and sold on the platform. Given the judgment made in this case, NFTCN and its parent company could find themselves in court again if the incident repeats itself.
Justice For Artists
This case in the Chinese court and its ruling is significant for several reasons. First, it marks the first time that a Chinese court will give a ruling on an NFT-related issue.
China has had a complicated relationship with blockchain for years and this has extended to NFTs as well. Earlier this month, several accounts were banned from WeChat, a top Chinese messaging app, for NFT-related activity.
But this case also shows a changing tide that could protect artists in the long run. When artwork first began getting stolen and minted as NFTs, it seemed that there was nothing the original owners could do about it. Now, some legal recourse seems like a possibility.