Cent NFT Marketplace Halts Sales, Cites Plagiarism

Last week, we discussed the coming intellectual property storm for NFTs. In short, we looked at how the various copyright and trademark issues of NFTs have begun to attract the attention of creators and rightsholders, large and small, setting the stage for a wave of litigation.

However, over the last weekend, it appears the next shoe has already dropped.

The NFT marketplace Cent has halted most of the trades and transactions on its service. In an interview with Reuters, the CEO and co-founder Cameron Hejazi of Cent explained the decision like this:

“There’s a spectrum of activity that is happening that basically shouldn’t be happening – like, legally”

Cameron Hejazi, CEO and Co-Founder of Cent

Currently, on Cent, only trades pertaining to Tweets are still being allowed. All other NFT trades have been halted. Hejazi went on to say that, while they are studying decentralized methods of reducing misuse, he said that, when the store relaunches, it may implement centralized ones.

However, the idea of centralized controls goes against what many see as the core values of NFTs and cryptocurrency. After all, the supposed benefit of the technology is that it exists fully decentralized and doesn’t require trust to work on a technical level.

This news comes just a week after OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace and minting service, admitted that “Over 80%” of the NFTs minted for free on the service were either fake, plagiarized or had other issues.

Because of this, OpenSea said it would impose limits on its free tool. However, that policy change was met with a sharp backlash that saw them quickly reverse course.

This makes Cent’s move especially interesting and one that is likely to change the course of NFTs, one way or another.

Cent and Loose Change

Cent is neither the biggest nor the best known of the NFT marketplaces. However, it rose to prominence in March of last year after Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, sold an NFT based on his very first Tweet. The $2.9 million sale made headlines all over the world and helped thrust both Cent and NFTs broadly into the limelight.

As such, Cent is a name that is well known both by those invested in the NFT market and those that are merely observing. Its decision to shutter most of its trading important news and indicates that the legal worries may be finally getting to many of those at the top of the NFT pyramid.

The truth is, the NFT gold rush has attracted a wide assortment of undesirable elements. Plagiarists may be getting the lion’s share of attention, the marketplace has also been awash with scammers and “wash traders” that purchase and sell NFTs to mislead the marketplace on its value.

All this is happening at a time where major companies are starting to dabble with NFTs. Several video game companies have thrown their hat in the NFT ring, despite significant pushback from employees and gamers alike. Coca Cola, Nike and Gucci have both tried out their own NFTs,

All in all, NFT sales have bloomed, growing from $95 million in 2020 to $25 billion in 2021. However, that’s only served to make the market more perilous, as it has attracted plagiarists and scammers alike as well as others that are seeking little more than a quick payout.

Unfortunately, this is where the NFT marketplace struggles the most. When the market is small and most people participating in it are ethical, the system works relatively well. However, when the market is extremely lucrative and grows by leaps and bounds, the lack of safeguards becomes a liability.

That is precisely what Cent (and to a lesser degree, OpenSea) has learned.

Bottom Line

The technology behind crypto and NFTs is interesting and may, in a different world, have significant applications. However, the current marketplace is one of unregulated speculation, and that has ensured that most of the people entering it at this point are doing so with either malicious intent or just hopes for a quick payday.

In a market without guardrails, the door is wide open for anyone to enter, no matter how illegal or unethical they may be.

Cent realized this problem and is trying to find a way to tackle it. However, any guardrails or restrictions they put up will undoubtedly b e seen as antithetical to the entire crypto movement. After all, OpenSea couldn’t even put modest restrictions on its free service without backlash, it’s pretty much impossible to think of what Cent could do that would both have any impact and not anger the very market it caters to.

However, when those outside the marketplace look at the NFT space, they see scammers, plagiarists and cheap cash ins. Guardrails and assurances may be just what some need to express interest.

In the end, that may be the biggest challenge NFTs face, not the fact that there are plagiarists and scammers, but that any attempt to restrict or reduce the problem is decried by the marketplace. This element isn’t just in the NFT marketplace, they are entrenched.

As long as attitudes remain as they are, they will be there for a long, long time to come.

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