I am utterly excited for this decentralized new Internet age – where artists are offered with unprecedented opportunities to utilize Blockchain smart contracts to sell artworks. It is still very complicated for music because music is traditionally administered by a centralized entity (the label) and is usually sold via different licenses (synchronization license, performance license, mechanical license, etc.) But, NFTs are all about ownerships over unique and collectable items and the industry will catch up overnight whether it’s for NFT music or illustrations.
As we already know, Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Ethereum are all Blockchain based fungible tokens (which can be exchanged for its fungible values). NFTs (stands for non-fungible tokens), on the other hand, are also Blockchain based tokens but are unique and one of a kind – think of it as collectable items – like baseball collectable trading cards or Rothko paintings. The NFT arts industry has been rapidly booming in a ... weird way. We have seen some digital arts and emojis sold for millions of dollars while others struggle to pay back the $70 average “gas fee”.
As an aspiring self-taught photographer, I decided to dive into NFT arts and mint some photographs for sale today. Like many other artists, I hesitate to put in actual money to mint and list my art as NFTs. To make an NFT, you would need to “mint” your art onto Blockchain with a set of gas fee normally ranging from $50 - $100 per piece. There are also NFT platforms that would allow you to “magic mint”, where the platform would hold the NFT and charge back gas fee once the art is sold. After diligent reading and studying, here are the steps I took to make gas-free NFTs for sale.
First, since most NFTs are part of the Ethereum Blockchain, I need a crypto wallet to trade Ethereum.
Next, I need to find a tool to mint my photographs onto Blockchain with the least gas fee. Such minting tools are usually offered by NFT marketplace platforms. Some platforms are invite-only, such as Zora, whilst others are open platforms to all new users, like Rarible. Google suggested the popular “gas-free” NFT marketplace OpenSea. Sadly, it still requires the first-time users to spend some gas fee to get in the marketplace. I started to look elsewhere since the gas fee for my photograph is $94 on OpenSea.
Note: using blockchain is energy consuming, as we pay gas fee, we are also consuming tremendous energy on the planet earth.
I settled for a smaller marketplace called Cargo, where you could opt for “magic minting” with a $1.99 flat fee per minting. This requires you to pay back gas fee to the platform in addition to a percentage of royalty when your NFT art is sold. This seems to work perfectly for me so I shall proceed with optimism.
After setting up my account on Cargo, I started to create NFTs with some of my old photographs. The “create” page asks you to add title and descriptions to the artwork. Here’s how it looks –
After paying the $1.99, I got my smart contract address for this photograph. It is now an NFT!
I went ahead to set a price to sell this NFT -
I added one more photograph and created a Showcase for my collections. Voila!
The Intellectual Property Issues with NFTs
You can sell a lot of things as NFTs – digital icons, music, domain names, 3D models, videos, etc. It is worth noting that while you can easily establish ownerships of your artwork on Blockchain, the artwork itself is still subject to copyright and trademark laws. Meaning, if your NFT/digital art does not have a copyright registration, it is still exposed to the lack of protection provided by copyright laws; if your NFT infringes other people’s rights, it is still an infringement. The potential infringements could be a trademark infringement (where you misused other people’s logos/names in your NFT), a violation of privacy (where you did not get a model release), or an infringement of copyright of others (where you used other people’s copyrighted work without permission in your NFT art).
I am thrilled to see how NFT arts unravel in the Web3 age. Leave me a message if you have questions or comments.
Silvia Sun, Esq.
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