An Open Letter From Secur3D Co-Founder and CEO, Otis Perrick
It’s been a while since I last publicly shared a post, but this doesn’t mean I’ve taken my finger off the pulse. A lot has been happening in the world, and things seem to be changing more quickly than ever. Keeping up with new technologies, new platforms, new legislation, consolidation of businesses, and a seemingly fragile economy, has certainly been an interesting ride.
While I won’t go into all the above, I would however like to offer a few thoughts on a subject matter that is important to me: the digital economy.
I’ve spent a good part of my career working closely with artists that entrusted my company, Disruptive Publishers, to adapt their work for digital distribution on Sony and Microsoft game console marketplaces. Our team worked with artists from all over the world to transform static, flat artwork into dynamic, living, breathing animated graphics. The team adapted and distributed over 7,000 pieces of art and has built a catalogue of more than 10,000 avatar items.
For more than a decade, I’m proud to say artist concerns with the integrity of their work were minimal; privacy and copyright infringement weren’t top of mind. Unfortunately, I can’t say that’s the current norm.
Integrity and Protection
More than ever, artists are empowered to bring their wildest creative dreams to life. Now, more than ever, artists have the tools, the skills, the platforms, and the audience to explore and amplify their creativity. What they don’t have is adequate IP security.
Trying to protect all this great work is a full-time job of its own, and thousands of artists around the world are at risk. Digital IP theft is rife. It’s criminal.
Ultimately artists need protection and support. The ones who pour their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, but like so many, often fall victim to infringement. Yet we continue to hear and read so many stories of those affected by digital IP theft:
● Famous Dutch artist Lois van Baarle found that more than 100 pieces of her art were up for sale on a well reputed NFT marketplace. None of them were listed by Lois. A scammer was profiting from her work.
● DeviantArt hosts half a billion pieces of digital art and has sent 90,000 alerts about possible fraud to thousands of their users in a year. It’s now scanning for fraud across 4M newly minted NFTs each week. The number of alerts grew by 300% from November to mid-December.
Also in December, bots began attacking the site scraping whole galleries of artists’ works. The pieces would later appear on NFT marketplaces, often with artists’ names and watermarks still attached.
● Roblox UGC creators face a continual threat of infringement as the once closed program opens broader and more bad actors enter the arena.
This has led to increased toxicity amongst the community on social media and even inspired dedicated YouTube videos focused on identifying and calling attention to the theft and plagiarism.
● Artist Aja Trier discovered 87,000 NFTs based on images of her work for sale on OpenSea… once again, none were listed by her.
● 3D Artist Ludwig Holmen’s work was stolen and used in a crypto rug-pull that earned someone out there $138,000USD before they disappeared.
Each of the above examples relates to one or more of the following problems –
● In many cases, the ability to maintain ownership of IP, and the revenue streams resulting from it, is non-existent. The system is broken.
● A deep need exists for digital art to be backed by an industry accepted chain-of-ownership standard that complements the legal enforcement of digital IP ownership.
● It is much easier to get away with forgeries and scams in the digital space than in the traditional physical art world. It’s as simple as right-click, save – but it shouldn’t be. I look forward to a future where at every level, artists, rights holders, and platforms are participating in fair and rightful creation and monetization of IP. We can, and must, fence bad actors out of the arena.
I’ll say it again, the current system is broken. Need more proof?
Many of you will be acutely aware of the challenges Roblox faces as it sees a staggering amount of content ingested on a daily basis. This year, 138M+ assets have been checked for authenticity or IP infringement. This is carried out by a combination of AI algorithms and verified by over 2,500 human moderators worldwide. Just imagine the sheer amount of work it would take per person to handle that! Roblox removed 47M malicious and copied assets YTD alone. How many do you think slipped through?
We hear about how AI might address this fully, but current AI algorithms are primarily trained to catch abusive or offensive content, and often only identify 1:1 copies of art, allowing subtly altered models and textures to pass the theft test. That’s not sustainable.
I could go on for ages, but I bet you want to get to the point, so here it is – systems must be future-proof, but they aren’t even now-proof. This is a huge problem.
AI Generated Art Added to the Problem
Emerging technologies will continue to rapidly evolve. This impacts businesses of all sizes, everywhere. The future will be here faster than we think. We need to move faster, and we need to move now. The digital landscape won’t wait for whatever “best time” works with our schedules.…
The leaps in AI generated art in just the past couple of months alone are enough to make your head spin. Trained AI models like OpenAI’s DALLE-2 now take any outlandish fantastical statement your mind can come up with and generate a representative image within minutes. A circus bear riding a unicycle doesn’t need to be a bear anymore. May I suggest a fire breathing dragon?
As impressive as this is, the progress doesn’t stop there. AI generated art is only one of several emerging technologies that have or are in the midst of changing the landscape for artists. From Blockchain and Digital Twins to XR and cross-platform interoperability of avatars and wearables, the demand for high quality 3D art is increasing, putting further stress on the need for solutions that wholly protect artists.
Artists across our planet are building the virtual worlds of tomorrow, today. A massive appetite exists for content which is created and monetized through what I’ll just call platforms, for now. Meta and its Horizons World, Roblox and its open creator community, and the likes of Unity and Unreal, will continue to provide a home for UGC.
We are at the precipice of an extraordinary time for artists. As someone who has been involved with the artist community for over a decade, I want to continue seeing artists thrive and have so many more opportunities to share and rightfully monetize their work.
Until new tools are widely available, vigilance and reporting theft remain the leading instruments of art protection. IP infringement isn’t going anywhere. If the last few years have shown us anything, it’s only getting worse. Let’s work together to keep artist IP safe and protected so everyone can keep building, earning, thriving!
About Otis Perrick:
Otis has been in the gaming and interactive entertainment industry since 1998 including a successful 9-year tenure at EA. He uses forward-thinking, charisma, and a strategic aptitude to lead the team at Disruptive, and Secur3D. Being a veteran marketer, Otis has a proven track record of building and maintaining strategic business relationships and is responsible for leading and managing the company’s overall direction. Disruptive was recently recognized by Business in Vancouver as one of the fastest growing companies and also awarded Otis the Top Forty under 40 award.
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Protecting digital art is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. At Secur3D, we believe in creator rights, ownership, and protection and are training new AI concepts to work with our proprietary technology to protect digital IP. Our mission is to empower creators, rights holders, and platforms with proactive tools to enforce ownership and control. Learn more, or contact us directly.