If you have been involved in the NFT space then you have probably heard the controversy surrounding the screenshot of NFTs. At the end of the day, what is stopping users from stealing precious NFTs through a simple right-click and save?
But maybe there is more to the story. In this article, I will be answering that question and much more. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
Technically users can screenshot NFTs. However, although they obtain a replica of the image they do not become the rightful owner. Thanks to the underlying technology of NFTs this is recorded on a public database that can be verified.
What are NFTs?
Before we start, it is important to understand what NFTs are. In a nutshell, NFTs are unique assets stored on the blockchain. The blockchain is essentially a database that is transparent and open source, while NFTs are assets with unique metadata. This includes the token ID, address, and transaction history. All of this information is verifiable which guarantees authenticity and fungibility. Not to mention, as it’s public this means they cannot be faked.
Can you screenshot NFTs?
Now that we got the basics out of the way, let’s talk about the nitty gritty. As mentioned previously, yes users can screenshot NFTs. Doing so provides a pixel-perfect replica.
However, although users now have a perfect replica of the artwork they don’t own the underlying smart contract, this lies with the owner. They have ultimate control of the NFT.
This information is stored on the blockchain which is an immutable ledger. Recorded on the blockchain is a unique contract ID tied to the address which guarantees authenticity. This is all open and verifiable.
Think of it this way. You can take a picture of traditional contracts however in the eyes of the law you are only the owner of this contract if it has your signature on it. In regards to NFTs, this signature is tied to the smart contract and is verifiable on the blockchain.
Why doesn’t this make you the owner?
Simply put, when users screenshot NFTs they don’t gain access to the associated wallet. The wallet is a device or program which stores your private keys.
To gain access to the NFT smart contract you need the private key. This key is used to sign transactions and provides users with complete autonomy to trade and transfer the token.
Is it illegal to screenshot an NFT?
In most cases, it is not illegal to screenshot NFTs as long as you don’t sell them on the open market. If you do this may infringe upon copyright laws.
Put simply the underlying artwork of NFTs falls under traditional copyright laws and the smart contracts act as cryptographic receipts.
They are classed as a derivate and therefore artists have complete control of the underlying artwork. The copyright remains with the artist even after the point of sale. If you were to plagiarize the art and sell it then this will likely break copyright laws.
There are three exceptions to this rule. One is fair use, the second is the transferring of the copyright and the third is if it’s in the public domain. To learn more about copyright and NFTs. Click here to read my previous article.
Is the screenshot valuable?
Like most answers, this depends and is in the eyes of the beholder. But let me ask you this. If you were to take a picture of Picasso’s painting would it be valuable? Yes, it would be, but it wouldn’t be the original. Ultimately, humans are drawn to authenticity.
No matter how good the fakes, there is only one original painting. The rarity is what makes it valuable. Additionally, there is a story behind the artwork. It’s a product of the artist’s intellect rather than some mindless copy that is used solely for financial gain.
How to verify NFTs?
To verify the authenticity of NFTs and tell if it’s a screenshot or not is a relatively simple process. In essence, this is done by examining the smart contract associated with the NFT. This can be done using a blockchain explorer such as Etherscan.
This application is used to view the metadata tied to your NFT. This includes the public address, transaction history, and token ID. Once verified you can then check this with the original NFT collection address to make sure it’s not a duplicate.
Want to learn more about NFT authentication? Click here to read my previous article.
So as you can see, anyone can screenshot NFTs and likely face no repercussions. However, you don’t become the rightful owner and it’s probably economically worthless. In an age of Fakes and frauds, NFTs are a welcome relief. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading.
Want to learn about NFT burning? Click here to read my previous article.