Mimics Clones NFT: How Could That Be?
Could you imagine that someone clones NFT? It sounds ridiculous as we know that one of the critical options of these new-fangled things is their uniqueness. With the loss of this option, we face a number of awkward questions. How is it possible to clone them? Could these assets remain valuable if having identical copies? What will happen to the NFT market? Who needs fake non-fungible tokens? Let’s try to get through the facts to put together parts of the big picture. The media introduced the anonymous author of the Mimics project who claimed that he (or she) just had broken the NFT market.
Who and How Clones NFT
To make a long story short, Mimics is a new project whose creator (who wished to remain anonymous) states that it is quite possible to make a copy of any existing NFT. Not long ago it seemed to be impossible. Of course, “cheaters” could always try a simple but effective method known as “copy-minting.” This means a cheater downloads someone else’s token and mints it as their own. It is not so difficult to save an NFT image and make an attempt to mint it again though it can be easily identified whose asset appeared first in the blockchain. People that do such things are at risk of being blacklisted on marketplaces.
Things have changed with Mimics as they have found a vulnerable spot of the ERC-based NFTs with their most common standards being ERC-721 and ERC-1155. We are talking about the “tokenURI” which is an identifier of what the token “looks” like. This is a link to your token’s metadata and this part of code allows smart contracts to know where to find the right image for the NFT. And now, here is the trick: as the code is open to any participant of the chain, anybody can see it. And then they can create their own non-fungible token with this piece of code of any other already existing NFT. It is easier than easy, isn’t it? And you can sell your cloned unique digital widgets because the contract on the blockchain is new now.
The cloning service is now available and its help is not too expensive – 0.02 ETH only. It is much lower than what will be required to pay for the original. To get a copy, you just need a wallet to have a duplicate there.
Issues of Legality
The next problem lies in the field of law. Are these activities legal? Can they be classified as a fraud? Scam? Or are they fully legitimate activities? Opinions on this issue are divided.
Joni Pirovich, a well-known Australian lawyer who specializes in blockchain and digital issues, construes this definitely as “a blatant breach of copyright or other IP.” She offers the customers to find out if the seller can provide any document to prove the ownership of the image.
On the contrary, Chelsea E. Manning calls NFTs “a glorified checksum” that needs the pre-existing system of violence and control to make people believe in their value. In her Twitter, she insists that (NFTs) have no inherent worth and are not even technologically innovative. And this opinion makes sense. NFTs are not the objects by themselves to say they are counterfeited or falsified. There is no actual prohibition against minting them and there are no generally accepted rules yet for what power gives a smart contract that implicates the NFT to its owner. Different countries have different legislation on this subject, so it is not easy to decide which of them should be used in a certain case. For example, there are serious differences in copyright recognition between the USA and Australia while many marketplaces don’t require to reveal the participants’ identity and prove the IP.
But Mimics went even ahead and found a way to avoid the trap of being involved in legal prosecution. The anonymous hacker behind the project claims that their aims and intentions are good. Their performance does not extend beyond the pieces of art – they insist that they just want to help those who still want to appreciate the artwork in their wallets even after selling it. On their website, you can get to know that many collectors get attached to their NFTs and are eager to continue admiring these lovely collectibles being deprived of them. But at the same time, they inform you that you are free to do anything with your copy you want even to sell it.
Possible Consequences for the Market
At first sight, the situation doesn’t look threatening. It seems that the project participants just play a kind of game. But things may turn out to be much more complicated and intricate.
This may totally change the market conditions. Now that the myth of the NFT’s uniqueness and invulnerability is ruined, and any artwork can be easily cloned, why should you pay thousands of dollars for the right to call a digital piece yours? With the growing number of clones, NFT inflation seems quite possible. At the same time, some experts believe that cloning would stir the users’ interest in blockchain technologies. This could attract more investors to the NFT market as well.
It is also very important to underline that Mimics deals only with artworks and doesn’t try to copy NFTs with distinct utility functions. For example, if you clone a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT, it will not be equated to getting membership rights of granted access to a private online club. You’re able to copy only name, description, and media. But don’t underestimate the fact that a start has been made. And imitating the utility of non-fungible tokens may become the next step.
Challenge for the NFT Standards
In the online articles, the creator of a cloning service is described as the one who tries not to ruin the existing structure but shape something new. And it is, by and large, really so. Such events as the discovery of serious blunders offer new opportunities for developers.
In this case, it turns out that the NFT’s code is not as secure as it was announced. This fact is of particular importance as non-fungible tokens are the hottest thing in the crypto world nowadays and it attracts numerous investors and more and more money is circulated in this sector. The highest level of safety that had been never achieved before was announced. And one of the always-mentioned advantages of this way of selling their art for creators is that NFTs were intended to fix the issues of authenticity, intellectual rights, and confirmation of the proprietary right.
This situation is a thought-starter for developers. Now they have to think about the improvements to the NFT code to find a balance between transparency and security, accessibility and intellectual rights protection. They need to find a way to ensure the authenticity of the information provided in the code. If developers ignore this public demand for upgraded protection, it may result in declining trust in decentralized solutions and redirecting future income streams. Their main purpose is to build a better and more secure decentralized environment.
Once weird and incomprehensible, NFTs became an integral part of the crypto world. Some experts believe they are just a passing fad and a short-lived widget. Are they right? To break this opinion, NFT should evolve and develop to take a worthy place in the blockchain hierarchy. Mimics seems to be a rather harmless project but then the others may come. Developers, hey, hit the crypto community, you’re up.