Chinese Court penalizes Marketplace for Minting Stolen Artwork as NFTs

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A court in the Chinese city of Hangzhou passed a unique judgment against a nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace for allowing a user to mint NFTs of stolen artwork. The recent boom of the NFTs market has resulted in numerous cases of illegal minting and sale of traditional artworks as NFTs

A report by South China Morning Post revealed that the court verdict toward the NFT marketplace was made after a lawsuit filed by Shenzhen-based company Qice against NFTCN’s parent company, BigVerse.

According to the lawsuit an NFTCN user stole a copyrighted artwork of Ma Qianli, a Chinese artist specializing in drawing and printing. It also alleged that the user poached one in every of Ma’s cartoons.

From the evidence collected, the court found the NFTCN platform guilty of neglecting to check for forgery or belongings (IP) theft before permitting users to mint NFTs. Consequently, NFTCN was charged for facilitating the infringement of the owner’s “right to disseminate works through information networks.”

The artwork in question was a cartoon tiger receiving a vaccine shot, which was sold for 900 Chinese yuan (approximately $137) to an unknown user on the NFTCN platform. However, BigVerse was ordered to pay a fine of 4,000 yuan (or $611) to Qice additionally to stopping the circulation of the stolen artwork NFT by sending it to an “eater address.”

Eater addresses stop the transfers of NFTs as they’re empty of inherently private addresses — fundamentally working almost style of a burning mechanism in cryptocurrencies. Despite China’s aggressive stance against the crypto ecosystem, the country has been cautious about outrightly banning NFTs.

While China has been indecisive on imposing a blanket ban on NFTs despite its rigid stance against crypto, three Chinese authorities jointly issued a public warning about the “hidden risks” of investing in nonfungible tokens or NFTs.

The departments — the China Banking Association, the China Internet Finance Association and also the Securities Association of China — launched initiatives to encourage innovation within the crypto and blockchain space focused on NFTs also as “resolutely curb[ing] the tendency of NFT financialization and securitization” to mitigate against the risks around illicit activities.

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