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The dark side of NFTs ignites controversy among gaming YouTubers

NFT theft

NFT theft is on the rise. Gaming YouTubers are having their likenesses stolen and turned into NFTs. Many popular YouTubers, including Alanah Pearce, James Stephanie Sterling and Caddicarus, have found their web addresses being sold on NFT marketplace OpenSea, and the 'rights' sold to the highest bidder. This would include all art and content of those YouTube channels.

Theft and copyright infringement is a dark side to the NFT boom. If you want to avoid scams then we have a guide to NFT drops that offers a guide to spotting a bad NFT. We've also rounded-up the most trusted NFT marketplaces to help you create and sell your art with a clear conscience.

NFT theft - who's affected?

NFT theft

Influencers Alanah Pearce, James Stephanie Sterling and Caddicarus have had they likenesses stolen (Image credit: Alanah Pearce, James Stephanie Sterling, Caddicarus)

One of the accused NFT users is StakeTheWeb who appears to be creating NFTs of some of the web's most-loved influencers, including James Stephanie Sterling who tweeted their annoyance: "Frankly [I'm] not surprised that some freeloading leech turned my channel into an NFT," lashed Sterling. […] "I did not consent to this, I do not want this, and it demonstrates everything I've said about how disrespectful and exploitative this market is. Scum."

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YouTuber and Sony Santa Monica Studios' writer Alanah Pearce not only had her likeness and photos stolen from her site, but the sellers then photoshopped the popular game developer onto a porn magazine cover.

Sharing the listing of her image only to her fans, Pearce made it very clear she did not consent to the NFT. Writing on Twitter: "Somebody has taken an image of me, that *I* own, added a trademarked porn logo to it, and “minted” it to sell for profit as an NFT...I cannot wait for the lawsuits."

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OpenSea is one of the largest NFT marketplaces used to create and sell the new digital art phenomenon, and it has a zero tolerance policy to art theft and plagerized content. Telling The Gamer (opens in new tab), an OpenSea Spokesperson said:  

“OpenSea supports an open and creative ecosystem in which people have greater freedom and ownership over digital items of all kinds. One of our operating principles is to support creators and their audiences by deterring theft and plagiarism on our platform. 

"To that end, it is against our policy to sell NFTs using plagiarized content, which we regularly enforce in various ways, including delisting and in some instances, banning accounts (as was the case in this instance). We are actively expanding our efforts across customer support, trust and safety, and site integrity so we can move faster to protect and empower our community and creators.”

Art theft is not new (sadly)

NFT theft

YouTuber DreamcastGuy has recently posted about NFT theft (Image credit: Dreamcastguy)

NFT art theft isn't new, it's plagued digital art in general for years. Sites such as DeviantArt (opens in new tab) have tried to track and delete plagiarized digital art, and have recently expanded their technology to include NFTs and blockchains. The NFT community is also fighting back, Twitters' @NFTtheft is the tag to use if you spot a stolen piece of art. The rise of bots to skim art from the web and create NFTs is seen as a rising problem.

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Mainstream brands are not taking NFT theft lightly, either. As reported on Business of Fashion (opens in new tab) , French fashion house Hermès has launched a law suit against NFT creator Mason Rothschild for his collection of digital assets, called MetaBirkin. Hermès alleges 'trademark infringement and dilutive' for the use of its iconic Birkin name. The NFTs, which feature fur covered totes, sell for $42,000, a real Hermès sells for $10,000.

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Ian Dean is Digital Arts & Design Editor at Creative Bloq, and the former editor of many leading magazines. These titles included ImagineFX, 3D World and leading video game title Official PlayStation Magazine. In his early career he wrote for music and film magazines including Uncut, SFX, and assisted on The Idler. For Creative Bloq, Ian combines his love to bring the latest news on NFTs, video game art and tech, and more to Creative Bloq, and in his spare time he doodles in Corel Painter, ArtRage, and Rebelle while finding time to play Xbox and PS5.