NFT – hyped-up scam or future of digital ownership

NFT – (non fungible token) is a special type of cryptographic token – there is only one of a kind – based on a blockchain. This piece of code can be tied to images, videos, sport cards etc. Some NFT’s are selling for millions of dollars with the record of $69.3 million for digital artwork by an artist Beeple. What is interesting to note, you are not the copyright owner (unless stated otherwise). You’re paying for a “database entry” tied to the copy of whatever digital object you are bidding on. The idea is to offer semblance of the authenticity and exclusivity. Seems like emotional value and bragging rights are the selling points. For artists it would be a new way to profit from their work, yet many problems abound.

Teething problems

People can sell signatures of things they don’t own like Mona Lisa. They are reusing art to make profit, or just plainly steal others work. The marketplaces are unregulated right now. To add to the issues are possibility of money laundering and environmental concerns.

We already have quite robust laws in terms of copyrights and possessions of goods. Some of them are outdated and not suitable for “digital age”. Admittedly, it’s so much easier to copy digital painting then Leonardo da Vinci canvas (and without noticeable degradation). Addressing differences between physical and digital ownership and distribution is a complicated problem. What’s simple – artists need to get paid. Looking at what musicians are earning from platform like Spotify, we clearly need some improvements.
Every so often, rules have to be rewritten. Products have to be upgraded (sometimes not – have a look at new Kalashnikov with Wi-Fi). New forms of exchange are formed. This particular time is a intersection of risky investments in times of low interest rates, fear of missing out and more general trend of moving our lives more and more into digital realm. Decentralization trend is also a factor.
“Nifties” need reevaluation, because right now it’s another get rich quickly scheme, artists are being robbed without means to fight and the environmental impact seems bit too high. For sure most of those problems would be resolved and we are in need of new ways to pay for content in our growing digital world.


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