Video game focused YouTubers are having their likenesses stolen and “minted” as NFTs, with the images being sold for profit and without their consent.
Many of the affected YouTubers find their identities have been included as part of an NFT assortment called the “Top YouTubers Collection”, seemingly uploaded by a user calling themselves “StakeTheWeb” and sold on the NFT marketplace OpenSea.
Despite NFTs – or Non-Fungible Tokens, effectively digital receipts that can point to a particular image but which confer no real ownership – being something of a buzzword at present, many creators are deeply opposed to them, citing the environmental destruction associated with the energy costs of processing transactions and the exploitative nature of the market.
YouTuber “DreamcastGuy” highlighted the problem of likeness theft for NFTs in a video posted over the weekend (January 15), though many other creators have been experiencing the issue.
As highlighted by Eurogamer, other creators including Jim ‘Caddicarus‘ Caddick, James Stephanie Sterling’s The Jimquisition, and Alanah ‘Charalanahzard‘ Pearce have all had their likenesses used without their permission.
On Twitter, Sterling said they were “frankly not surprised that some freeloading leech turned my channel into an NFT”, adding “I did not consent to this, I do not want this, and it demonstrates everything I’ve said about how disrespectful and exploitative this market is”, and calling the uploader “scum”.
Jim ‘Caddicarus’ Caddick said, “At least, AT LEAST, if you stole my shit and tried selling it off, make it a t shirt. A mug. A clock. A thing. That you can use. And enjoy. Shilling off a profile picture for a collection you can just make yourself on a Facebook photo album is honestly a new level of pathetic lol”.
Charalanahzard – who is also a writer for Sony Santa Monica – has also seen her own photos stolen and sold on OpenSea with a porn logo added to the image, all without any involvement or agreement. Pearce says, “I cannot wait for the lawsuits”.
In extremely predictable news I’ve just been informed that somebody has taken an image of me, that *I* own, added a trademarked porn logo to it, and “minted” it to sell for profit as an NFT. Naturally, I was not asked for permission.
I cannot wait for the lawsuits 😂🤡. pic.twitter.com/7993J1e6YA
— Alanah Pearce (@Charalanahzard) January 16, 2022
The practice is undeniably theft, and due to the largely anonymous nature of blockchain technologies, it can leave those affected without recourse.
While an OpenSea representative told TheGamer that “it is against our policy to sell NFTs using plagiarised content, which we regularly enforce in various ways, including delisting and in some instances, banning accounts (as was the case in this instance)”, there is little to stop thieves uploading another “collection” of NFTs and profiting in the short term.
Recently, voice actor Troy Baker drew widespread condemnation for backing a virtual voice NFT scheme. Later, the company involved published an apology for using another company’s voices to publicise the plan, saying its “marketing team was in a rush”.
In other news, Activision Blizzard has dismissed or disciplined dozens of employees for workplace misconduct, as the embattled publisher continues to fight months of mounting accusations over sexual harassment and other problematic behaviour at its various studios.