DeviantArt is expanding its crypto art defrauding tool and offering it to artists outside the platform. DeviantArt Protect, which launched last year for art posted to the site, will now be available for work not also hosted there. Users can upload copies of art to protect and match with non-fungible token (or NFT) images stored on one of several public blockchains. If an identical or nearly identical match is detected, they receive an alert and can send takedown requests to major NFT markets such as OpenSea.
With the new version of Protect, anyone can upload 10 images (up to 2 GB in total) and have them checked for free, or users can sign up for DeviantArt’s monthly “Core” service for $3.95 and up to 1,000 images totaling 50 UK monitor. Protect scans images punched into the Ethereum, Klaytn, Polygon, Arbitrum, Optimism, Palm, Tezos, and Flow blockchains, and if a match is detected, artists can choose to use a pre-populated Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) request to the markets to remove the offending NFT.
Unfortunately for artists, there is no easy way to pull an image off a blockchain, whether the image is encoded directly into the chain or added a link hosted elsewhere. “Once something is hit on the blockchain, even if it is subsequently recognized as a breach, it is quite unlikely to actually be removed from the blockchain,” said DeviantArt CMO Liat Gurwicz. The copyright status of NFTs is: complicated and largely unsettled in courtand associating a crypto token with a work of art is not a traditional copyright infringement.
NFT marketplaces usually display an image of the art in question, but give the rights holder leeway to demand a takedown. And the vast majority of NFT sales go through OpenSea and a handful of other markets, creating a major bottleneck in the supposedly decentralized system. †[If] it is not reflected in any of the marketplaces, it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever see or attempt to buy that NFT,” says Gurwicz.
Marketplaces have seen an increased interest in stolen or “copied” NFTs, a widely recognized problem in the space. OpenSea recently introduced its own copycat detection system, which scans for duplicates of existing NFTs on the platform. But many artists object to their work being added to a blockchain for a variety of reasons, including the environmental impact of the popular Ethereum blockchain.
DeviantArt introduced Protect to users of the platform last September. All images on DeviantArt are automatically checked for three months and Core subscribers have their work checked by the system indefinitely. (Anyone who subscribes to Core for the off-platform Protect tool will also have access to other DeviantArt Core features.) So far, DeviantArt says it has indexed 345 million NFTs from eight blockchains and sent 245,000 alerts about possible stolen goods. art; it did not disclose how many of those led to a takedown request against a marketplace.
Many web platforms are experimenting with features that promote blockchain-based “Web3 technology”. Instagram and Twitter both have dedicated NFT image display options, and Spotify is testing a way to let artists promote their digital collectibles. Gurwicz says DeviantArt is theoretically open to the prospect, but apparently there’s little demand for it right now. “I think over the past year and a half we’ve understood that the greatest need from our community is to protect their art,” she says. “So that’s what we’re focused on at the moment.” Gurwicz says DeviantArt has received requests to add support for audio and video content, and is also considering options to scan those files.
“I think Web3 holds a lot of promise and opportunity for creators,” Gurwicz says, referring to the possibility for artists to find new ways to sell access to their work without relying on a handful of centralized web platforms. “Unfortunately, at the moment, Web3 is not delivering on that promise. And instead of makers enjoying opportunities, they are currently dealing with a lot of fraud and abuse and infringement of their work.”
Things like Ethereum’s high “gas costs” for processing transactions can also add tens or even hundreds of dollars to the purchase cost of NFTs – rendering the system unfeasible for people looking to sell their work at lower prices. “If the cost of gas that your consumer or customer would have to pay is more than the cost of the item itself you want to sell, that also makes little sense in terms of access or acceptance,” says Gurwicz. And as a huge amount of money flows through the crypto space, actual number of NFT buyers remains reasonably low, with interest possibly descending in the past months.
“A lot of creators are looking at space right now and they’re saying, you know, the way it’s actually delivered isn’t doing any of these things it promised to do,” Gurwicz says. “For a creator who has devoted his entire career to creating art, I can understand why that feels very off-putting.”