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What is Blockchain?

Contemporary definitions of blockchains are varied. In simplest terms, blockchain is a digital technology in which data is arranged in ‘blocks’ ‘chained’ together. Each data block has a unique cryptographic identifier. As more data is added, new blocks are created and the ‘chain’ grows.

How is it used?

Blockchains are often used as digital ledgers, with data distributed across multiple computers (or ‘nodes’). Every node has a record of the full blockchain’s data history, with all changes timestamped, so tampering creates a noticeable discrepancy vs the other nodes on the network. The technology is therefore considered highly secure and used in the management of cryptocurrencies (e.g. bitcoin) and creative works (NFTs). Yet many very early adopters are ‘bad actors’ who utilise technological exploits and the unregulated market to conduct cybercrime. Blockchain is currently suffering reputational damage as a result of this. 

Australia’s Copyright Agency has indicated intent and readiness to engage with visual arts blockchain organisations to manage artists’ Resale Royalty rights.


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Non-Fungible Tokens ('NFTs')

What are NFTs?

A non fungible token (NFT) is a data entry on blockchain that has been described as ‘a deed of ownership’ or ‘a receipt’ for use of a commodity. NFTs have been rapidly adopted by creative artists, where they have been ‘minted’ for (created and assigned to) a range of digital assets.

NFT marketplaces provide an online avenue to sell works. The NFT represents ownership of a 'usage token': when selling an NFT, you are selling specific rights to use the asset, not the asset itself. Unless explicitly reassigned, you retain copyright as the artist.

Issues with NFTs

NFT tokens can currently be minted for weblinks without ownership being confirmed. Digital artists have reported instances where NFTs for their works have been created by others without their permission.

If you choose to sell your works as NFTs,  it is essential to protect your work. Should unauthorized use happen, you may need to enforce your copyright as the original creator. Consider using an NFT marketplace that verifies ownership.


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Read the Arts Hub opinion piece on the pros and cons of NFTs. Then complete the activity below by dragging and dropping the pros and cons into the right column.