How to get your stolen Art removed from NFT-sites like Opensea

As if we artists wouldn't have enough things on our plate, like worrying that due to covid-19 if conventions or exhibitions take place, bookkeeping and social media, etc. Making new artwork is something I have done 2 weeks ago because there is so much other stuff to do in order to make a living.

Box of Pandora from Dec. 2003

Sending out DMCA-takedown notices to NFT-sites like Opensea have become a daily routine like having to look into my Pixsy account to see if there is again a Chinese company selling my work on Amazon or Ebay.

And it now has become part of my job as an artist. 

The blockchain as it is now is like the box of pandora of technology - and it has been opened!

That is also bad news for collectors as society gives me now even more jobs that I actually should not have to worry about. 

In the end this results in a less artworks I can create because time is eaten away by this boring but necessary legal-processing stuff.

The wackiest part is in fact that there are not art-thieves stealing stuff and selling it on the blockchain, most of them are actually bots! To get a better idea of what I'm talking about, read this article from or read through the end of this article.

What got me reasoning about this matter is that Artist Liam Sharp was thinking about closing down his deviantArt account because of the unbearable situation, read more here:

In my opinion, this does not solve the problem at hand, because the artworks are still out there, he just does not get notifications about it.

The problem is in the NFT-movement and it might not go away anytime soon until people start to realize that they don't own anything with an NFT, it is just a receipt! 

It is only a token that says you own something and then you get play-money for it that needs as much electricity as one small household in a day. If you want to exchange it into real money a lot gets eaten up by transaction fees. 

If you would be honest and consider the environment, you would leave it be. At least for now!

The biggest issue is that once an image is removed due to DMCA-takedown requests, there is no image pointing to that particular NFT on the blockchain and your receipt has become worthless.

Imagine you have bought a nice pair of overpriced shoes for 150 bucks and now the producer thinks the color is not quite right and he calls them back - in reality you'd say wtf? As seller of an NFT, I can simply do that and you would run around without shoes from one moment to the other. Fun stuff, right?

The only solution to this would be to buy NFT's from trusted sources AKA the original artists!

This is the only option, period.

And since Opensea and other open NFT-sites are open to anyone, everyone can sell other peoples work so it has become the duty to artists to go against this. Luckily deviantArt gives artists the chance to keep track of this in a convenient way by notifying users about a matching theft case and it looks like this:

 This is how my message center looks on a regular day:

So I can imagine how an artist like Liam's inbox must look like because his work is a lot more famous than mine.

If you ask me, now is the time to implement upload-filters on those sites so that in case of an attempt the upload will not be possible because the catalog from the artist is on that site.

This would at least stop those bots from uploading and bear with me, in a few month or years from now, that will be happening as it is the only solution that will work.

Until that day comes, we have to fight back art-theft to prevent others from profiting off our hard work.

The most funny thing about this is that when I grew up, to be an artist was something frowned upon, now people steal art to make a profit or even fake profiles on social media and also NFT-sites to earn money, what a funny twist...

I got my work stolen, how can I get it down from

Right now there is no easy way around it and you have to file a DMCA-report yourself. No one else will do it for you. 

Actually, they had a submission form on their site that worked for a while and it was possible to file a trust and safety report with the focus on copyright infringement. Now that has changed as my reports just got forwarded to Jackie (which is a bot) and Jackie is a bitch as you can see in her response to my takedown notice:

So I had a look into the TOS and the formatted outline they needed and delivering that through the submission form was only forwarded to Jackie. So It tried my luck with the email and used a DMCA template from here.

I have this sitting in my notes app and just need to swap the links, copy, paste and off they go. So far it took about 3-4 days but the work in question was taken down and I got a notification from good guy Gordon:

In case you don't find the information on how to contact them, as they make it harder every day to find the relevant info, here it is, sorry Jackie and lots of more work for Gordon:

Update on Dec. 27:

There is a new submission form available for reporting IP and copyright violation on Opensea. It looks very similar to the tool that Shopify uses for DMCA-reports and allows for multiple links in one session - that is one major step forward!

Here is the link:

That is all we can do for now.

I really hope deviantArt will get agreements with other NFT-sites as well, and help artists claim their rights back. 

Given the circumstance that this feature to track stolen NFT's on deviantArt is just out there for around 3 months now, it has become invaluable as it would be hard to track otherwise.

Do I really have to do this?

No, of course not. 

The problem is this: don't believe you are safe because you are unknown or not famous... since there are mostly not real people at work, every piece online can be harvested and sold as an NFT and it is done so mostly by bots that are owned by a few people who make large amounts of Crypto-assets due to the sheer amount of small transactions.

But what effect does this then have?

It will have an effect on the buyers because if 10, 20 or say 30 of their newly acquired art pieces are gone from their list, they will notice and obviously not buy again from those sellers. It may take time but they might be able to move to a platform, where they can get the real NFT from the original artists someday.

Note; the only way to earn money on crypto is to earn huge. Only a few selected people earn huge, the rest (90%) of artists/traders, (whatever) don't make cash selling NFT's and that is the naked truth. 

So in my opinion it does not make the slightest sense to even think about it if you don't really know what you do. And those guys with the bots know exactly what they do and they earn huge cash with your art and that is something I work against. 

If you don't believe my statement, read this article:

In the Turing Institute study, researchers found that 10 percent of NFT traders performed 85 percent of all trades and exchanged 97 percent of all NFTs at some point during the study period. “There is a core of very active, very engaged people, most likely driven by certain advantages — it could be profit, it could be publicity," Aiello says. "These are the people that move the market."

If you are a very busy and established artist, famous, known, influencer, whatever, if your list on deviantArt shows 150 entries to go through, you have my compassion but I would take the time to go through each of them - at that point you should be able to pay someone to do that.

If you are in the middle, like me, I don't see a big problem in reporting 20 or 30 images a week, it is work that has to be done, until some tools are established like filters, that take this work from us.

Remember that we are in the medieval-age of the internet and that we have to go through all of this so that others that come after us, may have not to worry about such things -(again).

I hope you found this article helpful, let me know in a comment how you handle this problem and what you do about it.

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Oliver aka Fantasio is a creative blogger who likes to share his insights about art, marketing and social media. Follow Fantasio on twitter or facebook


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