Is it illegal to screenshot an NFT?

NFT has become one of the biggest technological trends of our time. Almost every day we encounter headlines that yet another digitized work of art has been sold for huge sums of money. The high price of NFT has become an incentive for the creative community: networks are eager to replicate the success of artists, musicians, and ordinary crypto-enthusiasts, who sell memes and avatars very expensively on the NFT marketplace. If you want to learn even more about NFTs – check out this ultimate guide to them by our CEO, Mykhailo Sitalo!

Nevertheless, many people still assume that NFT is just a bubble and think they can get all it’s worth just by taking a screenshot of a picture. Today we discuss this topic in more detail and tell you if it is illegal to screenshot such tokens. We will also discuss some problems with NFT and copyright. There will be a lot of useful information here, not only for newcomers to the NFT industry but also for more experienced users.

How you can use NFT today

Non-fungible tokens in a blockchain network guarantee the identity of the object and give exclusive rights to it. There is a lot of discussion on social networks about whether it makes sense to buy NFTs. Many enthusiasts see a future in owning such tokens and using NFTs for digital artwork.

First, we need to understand why NFT is so valuable. Apart from the obvious possibility of confirming ownership of an art object digitally, such technology can provide many other benefits. Let’s discuss in more detail how you can use it:

  • Now NFT holds many collectors. Along with digital art, collectible NFT make up a significant share of sales on special marketplaces. The collecting industry is now rated very high and only continues to grow. All of this is due to the ability of tokens in a blockchain network to verify the entitlement and identity of digital assets.
  • The ability to easily access special events with NFT. Thanks to blockchain, the digital pass will have no equal. For example, the staff of a special conference cannot easily authenticate a pass using blockchain, but also re-sell it on the blockchain after such an event is over.
  • Products are another example of the worth that can be provided with NFT. Nowadays, NFT holders can easily use tokens to generate passive income and even ship products to their homes, all of which can be done with an NFT.
  • The direction of the metaverse is underdeveloped, but this will definitely change in the next five years. Virtual entertainment and business solutions (for example, office work) are actively developing now. For these solutions to work, it is necessary to ensure the synchronization of information between all existing NFT projects.

From the phenomenon of NFT arises the concept of the uniqueness of the product. And if a commodity has no analogs, it costs a lot more. That is why original memes and handmade highlights (not screenshots) from events are so expensive – the buyer determines the degree of their significance and pays for them according to his or her own ideas of artistic value.

What is going on if you screenshot an NFT?

NFT is created to confirm uniqueness and ownership, but not everyone understands this and the problem of screenshots still exists. Crypto enthusiasts are opposed by users, who ironize the buyers of such tokens. They believe that taking screenshots of NFT is exactly the same as owning one. They have been nicknamed rite-clickers because they download images that someone has digital rights to or take screenshots of. The purpose of the rit-clickers is to show the pointlessness of buying NFTs. They just screenshot NFTs and write ironic posts after taking a picture.

That is, someone bought the right to own the picture for a huge amount of money, but the rest of the people download the screenshot for free. Such people just take a screenshot or download a ready-made one, but do not realize the whole essence of NFT. It’s even worse when after you take a screenshot, users start selling this screenshot as their own NFTs.

Of course, you can screenshot NFTs, but there is one point. The analogy with Joconda or any other painting is appropriate here. You can buy a reproduction or a copy of it and it will be perfect, but the original will still be in a museum. The same thing happens when people try to screenshot NFTs. You can screenshot an NFT as long, but it won’t give you the same benefits as an NFT owner.

Is it illegal to screenshot an NFT?

Now it is time to talk about whether it is really illegal to screenshot NFTs. We can definitely say that a screenshot of an NFT is legal as long as you do not sell it elsewhere, pass it off as your own, publish it for financial gain or wherever, or make a physical copy. If you do, the owner of the NFT could sue you for copyright violation, or you may be subject to other accusations.

How do copyright laws affect NFTs?

Currently, the purchase of NFT is not legally regulated and does not provide owners with such basic intellectual property rights as, for example, a ban on the use of the work by third parties or people who take a screenshot. In this case, the author or seller of an NFT does not legally forfeit the rights to the original object, such as a painting. This means he is not prevented from distributing copies of the original work after it is sold. 

In essence, the purchase of an NFT is a transaction between an author and a buyer which is made with the digital recording of the transfer of rights to an object. People who think you can just screenshot an NFT take advantage of this fact in arguments with crypto enthusiasts.

However, compliance with the terms of such a transaction depends more on the author of the original work. Taking a deeper dive into what happens to a digital asset after it is created, an NFT is a metadata file encoded using a work that may be copyrighted or may be in the public domain. If it can be digitized, it can be turned into an NFT, but that does not mean that all these files are copyrighted. When you buy an NFT (not taking a screenshot of it), you are also buying the metadata related to the work.

To sum it up: can you take an NFT screenshot?

So, you can only screenshot an NFT, but don’t expect to get any financial benefit from it. A screenshot will not grant you permission to the benefits that may be related to owning an NFT.