June 20, 2022
SEOUL – It is a tough time for blockchain technologies like nonfungible tokens, as the volatile cryptocurrency market has upended the outlook for NFT art, which has enjoyed explosive growth in recent years. However, even though NFTs are going through a maturing period, experts say they still offer great potential for the art industry in the future.
NFT is a financial security consisting of digital data stored in a blockchain. Each NFT is unique and acts as a digital certificate attesting to a work’s authenticity and is used to represent an item such as an artwork. Most NFTs are part of the ethereum blockchain.
“There have been many cases of forgery inflicted on the Korean art world, including Chun Kyung-ja’s paintings at Seoul Museum of Art and Rhee Seund-ja’s painting at Seoul National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. NFTs can be a helpful tool for museums when verifying the authenticity of work,” Kim Ji-eun, a lawyer at Seoul Museum of Art, said at the NFT Art 101 Conference held on Friday at Seoul Dragon City Hotel in Yongsan-gu, Seoul.
South Korea is not the only place hit by forgery claims, Kim said, referencing the case involving paintings claimed to be by Jean-Michel Basquiat shown at the Orlando Museum of Art that is currently under investigation by the FBI. Even though galleries, artists and appraisers issue authenticity warranties, skepticism remains, Kim said.
“NFTs can be a means to guarantee the authenticity of art with information on when it was produced and who previously owned the piece, as long as the physical works are traded with the NFT version,” the lawyer said.
Hosted by ArtToken, a Seoul-based digital art platform, and Soongsil University, the NFT Art 101 Conference was attended by around 500 people looking to learn about the latest developments in the world of NFTs. The first edition of the conference consisted of five sessions: the NFT art market’s future, NFT art and artists, minting NFTs, NFT and DAO technology and NFT Art and Law.
“There are many NFT artworks that infringe on copyright law. Some people mint NFTs just because they own the work. But there is a difference between copyright and ownership,” said lawyer Shim Sung-woo. “There was a case in China in which an NFT art platform operator admitted to aiding and abetting in infringing copyright.”
Hong Ji-suk, CEO of ArtToken, said the relationship between NFTs and copyright law will develop over time. She has promised to host NFT art conferences more regularly to educate people and share knowledge about NFT art.
“We were unable to host financial authorities and to hear the stance of the government regarding NFT art and the crypto market, but we will keep reaching out to officials to join future conferences,” she said.