I Confess To Right-Clicker-Mentality discusses another of the problems this indirect connection causes, namely that trying to create "ownership", artificial scarcity, of an image represented by a Web URL is futile. Anyone can create their own copy from the URL. Miscreants are now exploiting en masse the inverse of this. Because art images on the Web are URLs, and thus easy to copy, anyone can make a copy of one and create an NFT for it. No "ownership" of the image needed. Liam Sharp suffered this way:
Yet another externality of cryptocurrencies!
Sadly I'm going to have to completely shut down my entire @DeviantArt gallery as people keep stealing my art and making NFTs. I can't - and shouldn't have to - report each one and make a case, which is consistently ignored. Sad and frustrating. pic.twitter.com/oNH6yXQtyU— Liam 'Sharpy' Sharp (@LiamRSharp) December 17, 2021
Follow me below the fold for an explanation of how the DMCA was used to fix the problem.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was passed in 1998. It mandates a "notice and takedown" process for copyright content online, which has ever since been problematic:
First, fair use has been a legal gray area, and subject to opposing interpretations. This has caused inequity in the treatment of individual cases. Second, the DMCA has often been invoked overbearingly, favoring larger copyright holders over smaller ones. This has caused accidental takedowns of legitimate content, such as a record company accidentally removing a music video from their own artist. Third, the lack of consequences for perjury in claims encourages censorship. This has caused temporary takedowns of legitimate content that can be financially damaging to the legitimate copyright holder, who has no recourse for reimbursement. This has been used by businesses to censor competition.2016's Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice by Jennifer M. Urban, Joe Karaganis & Brianna Schofield reported on the problems:
It has been nearly twenty years since section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act established the so-called notice and takedown process. Despite its importance to copyright holders, online service providers, and Internet speakers, very little empirical research has been done on how effective section 512 is for addressing copyright infringement, spurring online service provider development, or providing due process for notice targets.Now, via one of David Gerard's invaluable news posts we find this innovative solution to Liam Sharp's problem.
The findings suggest that whether notice and takedown “works” is highly dependent on who is using it and how it is practiced, though all respondents agreed that the Section 512 safe harbors remain fundamental to the online ecosystem. Perhaps surprisingly in light of large-scale online infringement, a large portion of OSPs still receive relatively few notices and process them by hand. For some major players, however, the scale of online infringement has led to automated, “bot”-based systems that leave little room for human review or discretion, and in a few cases notice and takedown has been abandoned in favor of techniques such as content filtering. The second and third studies revealed surprisingly high percentages of notices of questionable validity, with mistakes made by both “bots” and humans.
The leading site for creating and trading NFTs is OpenSea. Because they are focused on making a quick buck from the muppets, not the long-term future of their NFTs, they store the images in Google's cloud. This provides victims like Sharp with an opportunity. Because major corporations like Google operate an automated DMCA takedown mechanism victims can send Google a takedown notice. The result will be that the fraudulent NFT will end up pointing to "404 page not found". @CoinersTakingLs explains:
PSA if your art has been stolen by someone on the opensea and opensea doesn’t honor your request.— Crypto Bros Taking Ls (@CoinersTakingLs) December 23, 2021
There’s a workaround, they host their images through Google. https://t.co/gyQsdL8Lex