Copyright Uncovered: A beginner’s guide to NFTs

    Over the past year, NFTs have exploded in popularity within the art market. In a similar way to how Bitcoin revolutionised digital currency, NFTs look set to transform the ownership of digital art. But what does the rise of digital art within the art market mean for the rights of practising artists? 

    We explore everything you need to know about NFTs and the legal implications compared to more traditional forms of ownership and copyright.

    What is an NFT?


    NFTs, or ‘Non-fungible tokens’, are a type of digital token. Non-fungible means each NFT is unique and cannot be replaced with something else.

    They are stored on the blockchain, a technology founded in 2011 where data is stored in blocks, on a database that cannot be changed, and which does not need external authentication for validity.

    To own an NFT is to represent the ownership of a digital asset. They are bought and sold with cryptocurrency (a digital currency which does not need to be verified by a bank) the majority of which are part of the Ethereum blockchain.

    Why are they relevant to artists?


    An NFT can be assigned to any digital file from an image to a piece of music or film, and represents ownership of the ‘original’ work. Much of the excitement around NFTs has been around use of the technology to sell digital art.

    NFTs offer artists a way to sell work that may otherwise have been difficult to bring to market and can introduce their work to a growing audience of enthusiasts and collectors.

    How do I make an NFT of my work?


    For artists who are interested in exploring creating on the blockchain, you will need to ‘mint’ an NFT.
    You will need to join a marketplace (such as Opensea) and set yourself up to buy and receive cryptocurrency, which you then store in a crypto wallet. Once you are set up with a crypto wallet, you can then create your NFT by uploading a supported file from your computer.

    Most NFT marketplaces won’t charge fees to convert your images into an NFT, but there can be upfront fees depending on the marketplace you are using and how your NFTs are available for sale.

    If you want to find out more about the legal implications and NFTs and what it means for your practice, take a look at our factsheet here.

    Find out more


    Image credit: Digital Artefacts, 2016, Shezad Dawood © Shezad Dawood. All rights reserved, DACS/Artimage 2021

    Posted on 06/12/2021 by Bel New