This is an open letter to all blockchain-powered marketplaces for digital art to create a framework for approving art on their platforms and establish an open protocol for digital art. It should not be possible to commit fraud and theft, and then get away with it. At the same time digital art should be able to be bought and sold at any marketplace, underlining the need for an open standard.
Fraud and theft are serious crimes and need to be addressed accordingly. Over the weekend several people, including German artist Mario Klingemann and Amsterdam-based Karan Singh, complained about stolen works on the digital marketplace of Rarible.
Singh complained on Twitter about finding his work on the digital marketplace. Rarible was quick to respond. Within a few hours the digital art gallery removed the works and banned the thief from Rarible. The art gallery will ask buyers to burn the tokens by sending them to a so-called ‘burn address’.
Klingemann was one of the people who bought some of the digital art on Rarible. He said he will do more research next time, but to me that’s not how it should be. When Sotheby’s is selling a piece of art in auction, they make sure that they know what they are selling. Online marketplaces that offer a curated selection have the same responsibility when they sell digital art.
The Digital Art Foundation
Rarible, SuperRare, KnownOrigin, The Blockchain Art Exchange and other digital art galleries need to unify their efforts in battling fraud. They could establish a foundation that makes sure that all identities of creators are verified. They definitely need to address legal matters, and as a result see scammers punished. In addition they should create an open framework. As a result third parties, artists and art collectors get an idea how this verification process works.
On top of that, there’s a need for a cross-platform open protocol for digital art. It can’t be that digital art isn’t standardized. Buying art at KnownOrigin, should allow someone to sell it on SuperRare or at the Blockchain Art Exchange. Of course an art gallery always has the right to refuse art, based on their policies. But it should technically be possible. This open protocol could even make sure that artists will always receive royalties based on every sale. The platform wouldn’t matter.
It’s necessary to address this issue now in this open letter, and not when we are talking about a ten billion dollar digital art market. There’s a need to be proactive. So let this be wake up call for all digital art galleries, including the earlier mentioned SuperRare, Rarible, KnownOrigin and The Blockchain Art Exchange. Start talking, establish a foundation, and create a legal framework that’s capable of identifying fraud and theft, and has the ability to persecute criminals where needed. Fund the foundation and build that open protocol.
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Also published on Medium.