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Visual Artists and MPs call on Government to address the scale of copyright infringement in NFT marketplaces.

Emily Gould, Angus Scott and Remma Selhi at Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting

A newly published report by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee highlights how the emergence of NFTs and blockchain technologies in art and culture carries high risk to creators and consumers.

The report Blockchain: the risks to sport and culture follows an inquiry held in April 2023, in which DACS gave evidence, asks the Government to engage with NFT marketplaces to address the scale of intellectual property infringement to better enable artists to enforce their rights.

The Committee also called for the Government to address the impact of ‘safe harbour’ provisions, whereby online marketplaces can reduce or avoid liability for copyright infringement and scams on their platform.

We welcome the findings and recommendations of the Committee’s inquiry into NFTs and blockchain technologies. NFTs have created new markets and audiences for artworks and have encouraged many artists to develop digital skills, but several NFT platforms have left artists vulnerable to large-scale copyright infringement. Meanwhile, consumers have been duped into purchasing scam or misleading assets.

Reema Selhi
Head of Policy and International at DACS

DACS recommended to the Committee that the UK Government looks to protect and enhance intellectual property rights for creators, whilst also increasing trust and consumer confidence in NFT marketplaces. The UK should also adopt measures similar to the EU Copyright Directive’s approach to safe harbour provisions, where rightsholders can meaningfully license their work on online platforms and marketplaces.

The Committee’s key findings and recommendations

  • Blockchains and NFTs have some unique potential applications in art and culture. NFTs, for example, can create new markets for artworks and encourage artists to develop new digital skills. The Committee found however that there are real risks and harms to creators and consumers in their use.
  • The most pressing issue discovered by the Committee’s inquiry relates to risks to intellectual property. The report notes how the risks of copyright infringement are exacerbated given how easy it is to mint an infringing NFT relative to how time consuming it is for artists to enforce their rights. The sheer number of NFTs hosted across NFT marketplaces makes individual enforcement through repeated notice-and-takedown requests impractical.

  • The Committee recommends that the Government engages with NFT marketplaces to address the scale of infringement and enable copyright holders to enforce their rights. The Government should also address the impact of safe harbour provisions by introducing a code of conduct for online marketplaces operating in the UK, including NFT marketplaces, that protects creators, consumers and sellers from infringing and fraudulent material sold on these platforms.

You can read the full report here