Messy NFT drop angers InfoSec pioneers with unauthorized portraits

Messy NFT drop angers InfoSec pioneers with unauthorized portraits. An unapproved NFT drop that is celebrating InfoSec pioneers has fallen into a chaos of differing takedowns and piracy.

Messy NFT drop angers InfoSec pioneers with unauthorized portraits

When released on Christmas Day by a group that is called “ItsBlockchain,” the “Cipher Punks” NFT package comprised of portraits of about 46 distinct figures, with ten copies of each of the tokens.

Even when taken at their opening price, the full value of the drop was about $4,000. But almost instantly, the InfoSec community also began to raise objections including some from the portrait subjects themselves.

Messy NFT drop angers InfoSec pioneers with unauthorized portraits

The verge noted that the images on the portrait wrongly spelled several names, which include the EFF speech activist Jillian York and OpenPGP creator Jon Callas, and based at least one drawing on a copyright-protected photograph.

To make matters more complicated, the list included some figures who have been ostracized for harmful personal behavior which includes Jacob Appelbaum and Richard Stallman.

In response to Twitter, York tweeted a link to her own portrait and simply said, “I do not consent of this whatsoever and would like it to be removed.”

Removing the NFTs Has Been More Complicated Than It Might Seem

Getting rid of the NFTs has been more complicated than it might seem. The ItsBlockchain team was said to have apologized on Twitter for not obtaining likeness rights in advance and said it has removed 28 NFTs from the group and burned two others.

However there is no clear procedure to remove tokens that have already been sold, and ItsBlockchain is mostly counting on the central OpenSea platform to remove the tokens and get to resolve the issue.

ItsBlockchain has appealed to the platform for direction, but so far it has received little guidance. (OpenSea did not respond to a request for comment.)

“We have been trying to resolve this issue we want to take it down,” the group said in an email to The Verge. “OpenSea involvement would make the job easy at this stage.”


This incident has been a reminder of the potentially thorny legal issues around the NFTs, where the norms of permissionless innovation often clash with the likeness right and intellectual property law.

Typically, U.S laws around publicity rights hold that a person’s name and identity cannot be used for promotion without their consent, even though it is not clear how such a lawsuit could work in practice when it applied to NFTs.


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