Shortly after GameStop launched its NFT marketplace, a creator began selling a GameStop 9/11 NFT called «Falling Man,» a parody of the September 11, 2001, image.
It changed hands dozens of times and brought in hundreds of dollars until GameStop quietly removed it.
While GameStop faced criticism for the insensitivity of the GameStop 9/11 NFT, OpenSea included the Falling Man NFT on its platform for over two months.
The GameStop 9/11 NFT Caused a Revolution on the Internet
The recent announcement of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the GameStop platform has been at the center of controversy in the world of digital collectibles. Apparently, the announcement was met with backlash from the public, leading to a one-day market action showing how the community can come together to fix bugs.
A GameStop 9/11 NFT titled «Falling Man» features a falling man in a space suit. Many believe that the NFT is parodying the victims of 9/11 and is also infringing on the copyright of photographs taken by journalist Richard Drew.
The GameStop team eventually removed the GameStop 9/11 NFT and even banned art creators from minting any more tokens on the platform.
While GameStop was condemned by the public, the incident opened a Pandora’s box and revealed how NFTs have become a means for many to make a quick buck at the expense of ordinary people’s dignity.
As popularity grows, the ecosystem becomes a target for scammers, leading to an increase in copyright infringement and the sale of fake NFTs.
But the crypto community has consistently banded together to demonstrate the strength of the people. In May of this year, the Solana neighborhood came together to «trick» a con artist into returning a stolen NFT.
NFT Won’t Save Artists Instead, Others will Steal Their Work to Make NFTs
Beeple, a largely unknown artist, made headlines last May when he sold one of his works for €57 million. Beeple became one of the top three most-watched live artists overnight.
Seven months later, the relationship between «art» and NFT is a bit complicated. Famed comic book artist Liam Sharp offers a good example: «I shut down my entire DeviantArt gallery because people keep stealing my art and NFTing it.»
Since anyone can create an NFT of anything for as little as $120, many investors are picking up unreleased works from small artists, and trading them on OpenSea and other crypto platforms.
Sharp’s paintings had almost no commercial value (just over $3 and no sales), but a user named 7D03E7, the creator of an NFT, became rich off of them.
Theoretically, someone could create an NFT for any painting, and a few months later, the object would be valued at $500,000 without the artist seeing a cent. In the past, this phenomenon would have had a name: intellectual property theft.
A few months ago, DeviantArt, the most popular platform among various artists, implemented a system that would alert the creator if someone created an NFT for one of their works.
This tool works well and regularly informs artists of all NFTs created on their account. It turns out that the complaint process is more complicated: the largest cryptocurrency exchange, OpenSea, requires artists to confirm that their work is their own.
In other words, it reverses the burden of proof: the rightful owner of the intellectual property must prove its authorship, not the thief.
Theft Cases Are Repeated Tirelessly
In November, Ben Moore, the curator of the Star Wars Art Exhibition, took thousands of images of works designed by a dozen artists, turned them into NFTs, and auctioned them off on OpenSea. In a few days, NFTs (non-physical items) were sold for 6 million euros. This is obviously not good for the artist.
The most interesting case is Hermès, one of the most expensive and prestigious fashion houses in the world. It turns out that an «artist» named Mason Rothschild created a series of NFTs inspired by their famous Birkin bags (and called them «MetaBirkins» because imagination is rare in the crypto universe).
Rochtschild auctioned off some of his works for $800,000. Its success was such that within weeks, other users «counterfeited» their MetaBirkins and sold them for $35,000
The artist publicly denounces the counterfeits, which gets Hermès’ attention. The company made it clear: «Hermès does not authorize or condone the marketing of Mason Rothschild or the creation of our Birkin bags in the metaverse.»
On the other hand, it makes sense. Somewhat implausibly, Rothschild claims to have intellectual property rights to NFTs based on actual copyrighted objects.
Hermès is a powerful multinational company that can stand on its own. Other minor artists were not so lucky. At least while the metaverse’s legal vacuum lasts.
The GameStop 9/11 NFT Case Is a Double Robbery
The «Falling Man» NFT, created by user Jules and apparently uploaded to GameStop’s NFT platform after its debut, features an astronaut between two sets of black and white vertical bars. «This may have fallen from the Mir space station,» one of the photo captions read, referring to the low-orbiting Russian space station.
A screenshot from the Falling Man NFT page showing the 9/11-inspired image and the sale price was displayed on the site. While the GameStop NFT market mascot is an astronaut, the GameStop 9/11 NFT is a copy of the famous photo «The Falling Man».
After two planes crashed into the World Trade Towers, photos taken by Associated Press reporter Richard Drew show an unidentified man falling from one of the buildings.
In another discussion on the meme-sharing subreddit GME_Meltdown, a user pointed out that the GameStop 9/11 NFT image was a rendering of an existing 3D model of a Russian flight suit, created by an independent artist and used without the artist’s permission.
These sold for a whopping $749 each on July 22, while the price of the two remaining unsold GameStop 9/11 NFT listed on Gilles’ creator page increased to $7,492.
A Million-Dollar Heist in a Theoretically Indestructible Space
The fragility of the NFT buying and selling market is becoming more common. Back in March 2021, a multi-million-dollar heist took place at the theoretically indestructible digital art gallery Nifty Gateway, which at the time allowed the purchase of NFTs not only with cryptocurrencies but also with currency through bank accounts.
A few months later, OpenSea, a major international exchange for the NFT market, suffered a massive theft: according to sources, hundreds of tokens worth $1.7 million were stolen from the online trading room. The theft technique used this time consisted of gaining access to 17 user accounts through phishing. In other words, the most common and trivial digital criminal activities are effective in a business environment designed to be 100% secure.
Both cases demonstrated the high degree of powerlessness of crime victims: neither Nifty Gateway nor OpenSea took any responsibility for the stolen files. They attribute it to the lack of caution and technical skills of the users.
GameStop 9/11 NFT: Learn About the Assets Before You Buy
In recent years, the NFT market has been growing, developing, and attracting new audiences. Some experts argue that NFTs will create new ownership opportunities and become a more valuable asset class over time.
But, as with any investment, be sure to do your research to see if it’s right for you before you commit any money to it.
NFTs are often considered an investment option due to their unique features. Because they are indivisible, each NFT is potentially worth more than the cryptocurrency it was purchased with. This makes them an ideal investment for those looking to make money. As their value is largely determined by demand and how much people are willing to pay for it.
To protect these valuable digital assets, it is important to ensure the secure storage of NFTs. This can be done by using secure wallets and storage systems that provide end-to-end encryption.
Additionally, it is important to prevent NFT theft by implementing strong security measures such as two-factor authentication and multi-signature technology. Finally, it is also important to use a secure trading platform for NFTs that offers features such as smart contracts and escrow services.
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