Have you seen the meme response to someone online bragging about owning a NFT? If not, the response is for someone to right click - save the NFT image - and repost the image under the original post, both undermining their ownership claim and also ridiculing the idea of someone trying to police jpeg ownership online.
Seems most, justifiably, don't take NFTs seriously. However, what may present as a somewhat ludicrous, environmentally grim, cultish happening, NFTs could welcome in a new age of the internet. A place where all images are owned and a whole industry arises to suck money out of them. There are a few reasons why I think this*
*NFTs could also die and not exist within a year...though if that does happens I'd imagine a more legally sound replacement could take its place, but with the same fundamental concept.
1.The push to remove ‘right click save image’.
In response to these apparent NFT thefts on twitter, NFT owners and the people making large amounts of crypto money selling them, are asking twitter to remove the ’save image’ function. It's always been built into most internet browsers the ability to right click and save any online image. So ubiquitous that this ability almost feels like a fundamental principle of how the internet works. This somewhat flimsy, unarticulated fair use agreement for all online images has been how it's always been and I like being able to do it. Being able to save, share and edit images makes the internet a much more useful place.
Diminishing its use and function to appease private ownership is something twitter and the internet as a whole has always leaned into . Many sites already have the ability to save or screenshot removed, much to no one's enjoyment.
2. Celebrity NFTs has created an aspirational group of people who will defend NFT ownership.
With millions of followers, NFT companies have clearly targeted celebrities, its almost easier to list the ones who dont than those that do. The ones who don't have their own collections, are reported to have bought from other NFT collections. This normalising of NFT as a thing people purchase and more importantly own has been going on for over a year now. I recently began to notice more and more people defending NFT ownership. With arguments such as ‘you can’t sell your jpeg for £20,000, he can’ and ‘hope you get arrested’. I'm reminded of the Elon Musk meme below.
3. Money, Money, Money
So far in this journey we have had ‘right click - save as’ removed to accommodate NFT ownership and had the owning of images online defended by an army of people who probably dont own NFT’s yet but are perhaps bi-NFT-curious
In the same way music and film got harder and harder to share online in the early 2010’s I can see the same privatisation happening with images, with images licensing companies allowing you to download and post images from certain collections. The more I think about it, the more odd it seems that it hasn't happened yet.
I can see an internet of memes subscription packs or perhaps you can use netflix or disney images if you have a paid up netflix or disney subscription (That way these businesses won't miss out completely on all the free marketing that the free sharing of images provided) . Perhaps memes can only be created if you have paid the extra subscription level to be able to edit the images. I’m imagining an internet that has finally monetised images and memes but also one that is less useful and less responsive than the one we have today.
Perhaps I am being pessimistic here. Perhaps, but it's hard not to surmise that the majority of the web is not designed for use but rather to make money and because of this it has become less useful. There is a need for an internet that has the user in mind, tho we seem increasingly to be going in the opposite direction. I recently read that in the metavese, fans could earn a stake in their favourite artist by talking and promoting them online. Instead of listening to your favourite musician you post about them instead… in the hope of making money. All I can see when I read this is two opposing fans posting aggressively all day at each other. It’s a hard pass for me.
On a more positive note, I came across this wonderful thing whilst reading up on NFT’s. Also a really good source for news on the many NFTs disasters and other such nonsense is web3isgreat on twitter and their site here. Also for a more detailed look into what NFTs are and why they are bad this video does it all (though is over 2 hours long)