When Houston Rockets NBA player John Wall announced he was releasing a line of “Baby Baller” non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to raise US$100,000 for charity and the “Ballers community”, sharp-eyed social media users noticed the artwork’s background looked to have been lifted from popular online video game Fortnite.
The design team behind Wall’s NFTs was most likely responsible for the apparent deception after Wall posted a preview of the tokenised artwork on Twitter.
The contentious image, from season 5 of Fortnite by Epic Games, shows a basketball court adjacent to a building near a grove of palm trees. Though Wall’s preview included one of the Baby Ballers on the court spinning a basketball on his finger, many commented that the artwork looked like a lazy attempt to get into the NFT game.
“If you’re putting a 600 ETH [US$1.7 million] valuation on your project, you might want to make sure all your art is unique,” commented Twitter user hotlneblng.
Potential Legal Issues for Using Non-Original Artwork
Others warned of potential legal issues if Wall’s team didn’t secure Epic Games’ permission to use the background image. While the company website allows users to create fan art and other content with “no commercial objective”, most other use cases are prohibited.
Crypto Twitter user Ox_fxnction, an NFT creator and collector, defended the artists behind more reputable digital creations:
Celebs really think they can come into an industry they know nothing about, never interact with the community, then launch a scam project they’ll abandon in three months?Twitter user Ox_fxnction, an NFT creator and collector
Not the First Time NFT Artwork Has Been Filched
Wall’s NFT creation is not the first instance of appropriating art in the crypto space. Earlier this month, Dan Hindes, creator of an indie game named Wildfire, accused the team behind ‘Epic Hero Battles’ of stealing his artwork. Hindes later reported the creation had been removed, with the team blaming a web developer for the alleged error.
In a related story reported by Crypto News Australia on September 7, the US National Football League (NFL) has banned its teams from selling NFTs or sponsorships to cryptocurrency trading firms, although the ruling does not seem to apply to specific players.
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