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Demystifying Creator versus Minter — Delivering on the Failed Promises of NFTs

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Demystifying Creator versus Minter — Delivering on the Failed Promises of NFTs

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With the exceptional momentum of the entire crypto-space in 2021, it seemed that NFTs, closely tethered to the price of Bitcoin, would never crash.  Daily news reports of million dollar memes, high profile celebrities acquiring “Bored Ape” profile pictures, and a seemingly endless amount of investor dollars being poured into NFT-related ventures has made the crash and irrelevancy of NFTs today all the more shocking. 

In 2022, the narrative has shifted completely.  In contrast to the unsustainable optimism that led to the meteoric rise and fall of NFTs, the industry is finally taking a realistic look at the underlying issues of this promising technology.  Headlines such as “No, NFTs are not copyright” and “OpenSea self-reports that more than 80% of its NFTs minted for free were unoriginal or fake” offer a sobering message and a call to action for innovation in this space.  

In particular, misconceptions and general naivety towards NFTs have led many to believe that they would become an all-in-one digital media protection solution for artists, creators and the general public.  However, the reality is that NFTs are merely digital tokens on the blockchain that may or may not include working hyperlinks to associated digital media files.  It never promised to be anything more than a means of tracking ownership. 

At Numbers Protocol, we have taken a more measured approach to NFTs from the beginning.  We are deeply aware of the complexities surrounding digital media tracking, protections and record-keeping. All of this requires a comprehensive solution!  Although many are tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater because of all the negative press in recent months, NFTs and the blockchain technology behind it remain a key part of that solution.  However, there is more!  

Let us take a closer look:

Each digital media asset that is registered with Numbers will include a definitive creator and license that is made secure with blockchain technology.  Powered by NIT, a Web3.0 digital asset management system, each asset registered to the Numbers Blockchain will contain transparent attribution information that is readily searchable through the Numbers Search Engine.  See Figure 1.  Ultimately, NIT ensures that all digital assets have transparent history records and integrity records that are secure, immutable, traceable and verifiable.  

Figure 1: Timeless Mucha NFT Collection, an example of a Creator Profile with License information made accessible via Numbers Search Engine Asset Profile

Creator versus Minter

Why is it important to distinguish between the creator and minter of a digital asset?  Much of the recent controversy in the NFT space stems from situations where the one minting a digital work into an NFT is not the original creator.  

As Bianca Lessard succinctly points out in her publication titled NFTs, Minting and Copyright: What you should know as an artist: “Minting a non-original artwork or stealing it from someone else could be considered copyright infringement.” 

Lack of transparent record-keeping in this area has greatly dampened confidence in the promising utility of NFTs with creators and the general public alike.  Let us take a look at how NIT and Numbers Search Engine addresses this issue.

When registering an asset to the blockchain with NIT, a creator profile is codified into a configuration that details service provider, committer profile and other blockchain specifics.  See Figure 2. 

Figure 2: NIT Configuration snippet containing Committer Profile, Author Profile and additional information. For the full configuration sample, see here.

When an asset is registered with NIT, the information listed in the configuration is logged permanently on the blockchain. Numbers Search Engine converts the complicated string of characters and data into a clear and easy-to-read format. See Figures 3-5.  Having this information readily accessible through the Numbers explorer empowers users to make informed decisions regarding how to buy, use and sell their digital assets.

Figure 3: The Timeless Mucha NFT Collection Asset Profile is easily searchable on Numbers Search Engine. The Asset Profile clearly shows the Creator Profile and Initial Minter.

Figure 4: Clicking on the Creator Profile field in the Timeless Mucha NFT Collection displays the creator details including name, wallet address, and other information.  Compare this to other blockchain explorers, such as Etherscan, that only display wallet addresses. 

Figure 5: Using Initial Minter information grabbed from Etherscan, Numbers Search Engine can be used to cross reference the information with the Creator Profile to verify if the creator was the initial minter.

“If code is law, then NFTs are built on buggy code” is a sentiment that reflects the failure of NFTs to deliver on trust. Despite its limitations, NFT ownership has its utility.  However, more must be done to leverage the full potential of blockchain technology and Web3.0 approaches if the goal is to truly build accountability and confidence with users.   With the capabilities of NIT and Numbers Search Engine, Numbers Protocol strives to pave the way for a healthier and more robust Web 3.0 creator economy and deliver on the promises that the digital media renaissance that early 2021 NFTs promised.

About Numbers Protocol

Numbers is building a decentralized photo network for creating community, value, and trust in digital media. Its Numbers Protocol redefines digital visual media as assets and is the backbone of a suite of tools for registering and retrieving images and videos in the Numbers network.

These include:

  • Capture App: The first blockchain camera in the world that users can easily register photos and use Web3.0 applications.
  • Seal API: Developers and enterprises can implement Numbers API to register photos and access their Web3.0 addresses and certificates.
  • Certificates: content authenticity certificates with on-chain provenance
  • CaptureClub marketplace: Native NFT marketplace which allows photo generators to sell and stake their creations.
  • NFT Search Engine: The first Web3.0 NFT search engine that helps users verify the history of NFTs and prevent potential NFT fraud.

Numbers champion the purity of digital media and enable people to think more critically about the interactions between our images and the world around us. The goal of Numbers is to tokenize authentic photos (including images and videos) to create a decentralized photo network in Web3.0.

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