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BigVerse, a Chinese online marketplace, was found guilty of stealing artwork and minting NFTs from it.

BigVerse was held liable by a Hangzhou court for allowing a user to manufacture NFTs from stolen artwork.

NFTCN’s parent firm, BigVerse, was held liable by a court in Hangzhou, China’s eastern city, for allowing a user to mint NFTs from stolen artwork.

The court accused the Chinese digital art trade platform of failing to confirm that the user minting the NFT was the lawful owner of the artwork in a landmark ruling.

Theft of NFT Artwork
According to the South China Morning Post, the court found NFTCN to be at fault for allowing the owner’s “right to disseminate works through information networks” to be violated.

Qice, a Shenzhen-based corporation, filed the complaint against BigVerse. According to the plaintiff, a user on the NFTCN marketplace advertised a non-fungible token with artwork by artist Ma Qianli depicting a cartoon tiger receiving a vaccination shot. According to the report, an anonymous user sold the cartoon graphic for $137.

To make up for the loss, BigVerse was forced to pay Qice a $611 fine and send the NFT to a “eater address,” which is effectively a crypto wallet without a private key, to prevent it from being circulated.

The court argued that because BigVerse earns directly from such transactions, it is liable for regulating user behaviors that violate the rights of other clients. It was also suggested that the NFT marketplace establish a copyright verification tool to examine the artworks uploaded by users.

The latest step comes less than a month after WeChat, China’s most popular messaging platform, warned that a few accounts tied to NFTs would be suspended to discourage speculation in the digital assets.

The NFT Ecosystem in China
Despite Chinese regulators’ disapproval of bitcoin trading and mining, the NFT digital art market has thrived.

Until now, the country has allowed NFTs to exist but has prohibited individuals from speculating or trading them. Alibaba, Tencent, and JD, among other IT behemoths, have launched their own efforts that allow consumers to buy and accumulate NFTs. They are not allowed to trade or resell their purchases, though.

China’s state-backed blockchain infrastructure, Blockchain Services Network (BSN), has revealed plans to launch NFTs, as previously reported. BSN partnered up with Neo to create Jiuquan, a permissionless chain, in order to speed up adoption.

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