Art Wars NFT Collection Accused Of Stealing Artwork Without Permission

The NFT collection “Art Wars” is under fire. To explain, some of the NFTs in the collection are based on existing artworks. As a matter of fact, British curator, artist and project creator Ben Moore held the first Art Wars exhibition in 2013. However, some of the artists behind those pieces claim that the NFT collection used their art without their permission.

Stormtrooper helmets are the base of both the NFTs and the real life art pieces of “Art Wars”. Credit: Art Wars Twitter

Art Wars NFT Collection May Face Lawsuit From Artists

1,138 NFTs dropped as part of the Art Wars collection. Evidently, around 100 of those derive from photographs of physical pieces from earlier exhibitions. The collection sold for a total of about 1600 ETH, about $7.3 million at the time of writing.

While there are no lawsuits at the present time, this could soon change. According to The Art Newspaper, intellectual property lawyer Jon Sharples is already representing some of the artists. He argues that Moore did not have license to create the NFTs as he did not own the original art. In addition, the artists are claiming that Art Wars did not attempt to get their blessing before selling the NFTs.

Significantly, the project is in fact removing the art of artists who opt out of the project. Indeed, the project had already done so before launching. Prior to release, Art Wars removed a piece based on the work of famed artist Damien Hirst, who himself launched an NFT art experiment earlier this year. In any case, Opensea has removed the collection from its site due to the artists’ complaints.

Artist Damien Hirst had his work removed from the collection prior to launch. Credit: Andrew Russeth | Wikimedia Commons

Project Looks To Continue Despite Artist Challenges

As shown above, Ben Moore does not want the project to harm Art Wars’ relationship with its collaborators. Also speaking to The Art Newspaper, he expressed regret that the artists were unaware of the project before it launched. To this end, he added that Art Wars will respect the wishes of any artist who asks to not be included.

He also notes that the project has charity at its core. Specifically he highlights the fact that  Art Wars has donated proceeds of its exhibitions to the ‘Missing People’ charity since 2013. Similarly, the equivalent of around $40,000 from the NFT project is going to charity.

Undoubtedly these events are a challenge for the project. For one thing, its removal from Opensea alone is a major setback. Regardless, Moore suggests that Art Wars will release more NFTs in the future. Of course he adds that all artists involved will get royalties from the NFT sales.

Art Wars becomes the latest case in a series of issues around intellectual property law in NFTs. Credit: Nick Youngson | The Blue Diamond Gallery

Will We See More NFT Lawsuits In The Future?

In truth, there will likely be more projects to come facing similar issues to Art Wars. On account of how new the NFT space is there is a lot of grey area surrounding how IP and copyright laws affect NFT art.

There have already been a few high profile lawsuits, including one between Roc-A-Fella records and former label executive Damon Dash over NFTs connected to Jay Z’s debut album, “Reasonable Doubt”. Most recently, Miramax filed suit against Quentin Tarantino for copyright infringement over the latter’s proposed Pulp Fiction NFT collection.

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