In 2021, the NFT online auction platform Nifty Gateway tweeted to promote a video titled House of Marcial that depicted a room full of Ai Weiwei’s famous sculptures. The problem? It was not made nor endorsed by the Chinese dissident artist.
Amid the parabolic rise of NFTs in the last year, instances such as this are becoming increasingly common, and fakes and forgeries have become a headache for marketplaces. But a new proprietary tool is hoping to change that.
MarqVision, an AI-powered IP protection service aims to protect brands and artists from NFT fakes. It scrapes data from NFT platforms like OpenSea, Superrare and Rarible, offering subscribers a way to flag potential fakes and forgeries.
According to its chief executive, Mark Lee, a Harvard Law graduate and expert in brand counterfeiting and intellectual property theft, the aim is to auto-report counterfeit listings to respective NFT marketplaces via bots that analyse new listings once a week.
"The NFT landscape is a new frontier—and right now it’s operating a bit like the Wild West,” Lee tells The Art Newspaper. “Brands are struggling to balance how to make use of their digital assets for marketing and sales purposes with protecting their intellectual property, as well as saving their customers from unknowingly buying counterfeit NFTs."
The issue has become so prevalent that some marketplaces have initiated their own internal tools to flag potential fakes. Earlier last year, DeviantArt introduced Protect, an image recognition tool that automatically notifies users of copyright infringement on NFT marketplaces.
Another tool called SnifflesNFT also uses image recognition, automatically issuing takedown requests on behalf of artists, while Rarible has taken steps to address the issue by implementing a human-moderated verification system, which enables sellers and creators to link to social media accounts in the hopes of preventing NFTs from non-verified sellers appearing in searches.
With the total market cap of NFTs currently at over $10bn, scammers appear keen to take advantage of lax rules and enforcement mechanisms on major NFT marketplaces.The issue has even prompted the creation of a Twitter account, @NFTtheft, which has been documenting some of the most egregious cases, compiling a useful thread of resources to help artists in the event that an NFT work of theirs has been subject to forgery.