Creators can mint almost anything into an NFT, including digital art, memes, tweets, videos, and music, by publishing it on a blockchain. So, what’s the big deal if you take a screenshot of one?
Let’s set the record straight—screenshotting NFTs (non-fungible tokens) is not illegal. However, while NFTs are accessible to anyone online, it doesn’t mean you have the right to create a copy and claim ownership. In fact, screenshotting NFTs is illegal if you try to sell them or pass them off as your own.
There’s more to an NFT than just a picture. In this article, we’ll break down all the attributes of these unique digital assets and explain why you can’t capture an NFT’s true value with a simple screenshot.
Understanding the value of NFTs
First off, it’s important to understand that an NFT—or Non-fungible Token—is a unique and verifiable digital asset that cannot be replaced. In very basic terms, an NFT is a block of data encrypted on a blockchain that contains information about its ownership and transaction history. Each NFT has a unique serial number and just like any other artistic creation or intellectual property, it is governed by copyright laws. However, it’s worth noting that because this surging industry is relatively new, the rules and regulations surrounding NFTs are still evolving. We’ll be sure to cover this topic in more detail in another post. For now, let’s focus on the variables—originality, ownership, scarcity, utility, and community—that contribute to the true value of NFTs.
One question many industry skeptics commonly ask is “why pay for something that you easily view and copy online?” It’s not that simple. Think of NFTs like art. When you visit a museum, most of the time you can take personal photos of the art pieces you’re seeing. However, that doesn’t make it your art. You didn’t create it, so you don’t have the authority to take credit or sell copies for your own personal gain.
The same is true for NFTs. A screenshot of an NFT—just like a snapshot of a Monet or Warhol you take in a museum—holds no real value. It’s a worthless counterfeit of the original.
Although, unlike with art where it is sometimes difficult to discern a very good fake from an original, it is very easy to verify the authenticity of an NFT and the identity of its owner. Every NFT contains information about its creator, current owner, and when it was minted. This information is embedded on the blockchain and is easily accessible to anyone who’s using the network.
Here at Dapper, we have been a part of NFT History, helping to develop a concept that had never been done before—using the blockchain to track and record the ownership of a digital asset. Our CTO, Dete Shirley actually coined the term “non-fungible token” (NFT) after creating the ERC721 spec which launched the NFT movement. Every NFT owner has full authority to sell and transfer the ownership of their NFT at any time.
Screenshotting NFTs doesn’t give you ownership value. Anyone using the blockchain can easily look up the full history of any NFT that’s on that blockchain, including who its owner is, its previous sales history, when it was minted, and other metadata. This information determines its value. For example, NFTs that were created by well-known brands and artists, like NBA Top Shot—a collection of NFTs officially licensed by the NBA, often have a higher value due to an already-established brand recognition. Additional information in the form of imagery, descriptions, names, and other metadata can also drive value.
Scarcity and Rarity
Scarcity and rarity of an NFT is also an important factor in determining its value. Although every NFT is unique and no two are alike, creators often release NFT editions—basically a group of NFTs that look identical but each has a unique serial number. Usually, the larger the edition, the less each individual NFT within that edition is worth. However, an ”edition of one” NFTs, like Beeple’s “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” are perceived to be more exclusive and therefore more valuable.
Of course, in Beeple’s case, the popularity of the artist and the community that formed around his work also contributed to his NFT selling for $69.3 million. Many celebrities are using the same formula to enter the NFT market. Partnering with well-known brands, celebs like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Tony Hawk, and Bella Hadid, are developing their own digital collectibles selling in the millions.
NFTs are now gaining traction beyond just digital artwork. That’s where utility value—or how NFT can be used—steps into play. Some of the most popular NFTs are now offering access to exclusive privileges like rewards, live events, games, concerts, and even restaurants. With this added value, many NFT collectors are seeking out utility NFTs as another way to be a part of the real-life community.
For example, we’ve partnered with NBA, NFL, and UFC so you can connect with your favorite athletes through fully-licensed NFTs, 24/7 peer-to-peer marketplaces, nightly games, challenges, epic prizes, pack drops, and more.
Other companies have gone even further to offer rewards to mint new NFTs or opportunities to make passive income. Utility value is a fantastic way to provide real-world incentives to their collectors.
In today’s digital world, FOMO (fear of missing out) is real. The desire to be included and seen as part of a community —in-person or online—is stronger than ever. That’s why some NFTs now come fully packaged with exclusive membership opportunities. These velvet rope networking and social events give collectors a sense of belonging and an opportunity to enjoy a shared experience.
While the perks of NFT memberships are great, the community drive is even greater. It allows an open collaborative space for users to support, learn, and invest in each other’s creative ventures. The blockchain was initially created with this idea of community in mind. No one owns the blockchain—all blockchain participants collectively own and run it together. Without the support of the NFT community, the industry would never have come this far.
Why you can—but should not—screenshot an NFT
Now that you understand what NFTs are, you can see that taking a screenshot of one doesn’t capture its true value—you’re simply capturing an image, not the real thing. Although screenshotting NFTs is not—and probably never will be—illegal, it serves no purpose. In order to receive the most benefit from owning or selling an NFT, you have to be willing to invest in its underlying metadata, its creator, community, and utility.
Taking a screenshot for your own personal use is fine, but it’s probably not a good idea to share it publicly. If you do try to pass off a copied NFT as your own, then you’re illegally taking credit for something you didn’t create. In this case, the creator and/or owner have the right to sue you for copyright infringement.
When buying an NFT directly from another person, make sure to check that it’s real. Blockchains often have explorer tools to verify NFT authenticity, such as Ethereum’s Etherscan. If you’re buying from a reputable marketplace, like NBA Top Shot or Flovatar, you have nothing to worry about. These marketplaces are directly connected to your Dapper wallet which automatically verifies all NFTs that are sold on its platform.
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