Even with its increasing popularity, the NFT universe is still considered new and surrounded by nuances that are not yet fully understood by the community. These crypto assets make it possible for new artists to exhibit art and market it in an easy and intuitive way, but in many cases the unauthorized use of the image of a private place, brand or public figure can lead to accusations of plagiarism or even piracy.
Because it is a new topic and lacks understanding from the authorities, there is no specific law on digital arts piracy yet. But cases involving NFTs generally fall under copyright law. The application of the Law to works of art coined in NFT works basically in the same way as other types of works of art, considering some specifications of the Civil Rights Framework for the Internet.
The fact that a work of art is completely digital only limits the support on which it is fixed. Among NFTs, the most common act of this image misuse is transforming a photo or video file of a public figure found on the internet and turning it into a crypto asset for commercialization. Many of these digital arts are done without the consent of the “honoree”, a fact that makes its sale illegal.
According to lawyer Márcio Gonçalves, a copyright specialist and representative of the IDG company, developer of NFTs, this type of practice can be categorized as digital piracy: “There is no legal definition of what piracy is, but that is the name that has been consolidated in the world as the practice of marketing/distributing products and services without authorization or license from the copyright holders of a certain work, or rights over a specific brand. For example, when an NFT is an unauthorized copy of another original NFT (properly licensed) we are, without a doubt, talking about piracy. The same goes for an NFT that carries a trademark without the license of the holder of this trademark.”.
According to Márcio, Brazil still faces many problems when it comes to fighting piracy and protecting the copyright and intellectual property of a work: “Brazil, like most countries in the world, is still regulating and learning how to deal with NFT-coined hacking cases (given the lack of formal identification of NFT creators/dealers). Regarding other digital assets, we believe that executive and judicial authorities have been fighting an uphill battle, with some success. For example, recently the court ordered Google to remove an app from its app store that streamed thousands of pirated movies. However, we still have a long way to go in terms of intellectual property education”.
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