Verifiable Authorship for the $150 Million NFT Art Market

To illustrate the concept, this very article is an NFT. You can verify its authorship cryptographically. Check it out below.

Last week, an NFT art creator with the OpenSea handle Pest Supply made nearly a million dollars selling Banksy-style-looking works. Emotional mayhem ensued because bidders felt dismayed at the unclear authorship of the works, which reads a lot like cranky Twitter backlash. Pest Supply never purported to be Banksy (indeed, quite the opposite), but because there is not yet a standard practice around intellectual property assertions and derivative creative works in this new medium, spectators quickly cried forgery and rejoiced at having something else on the internet to complain about.

Decentralized identifiers offer the start of a fairly simple fix.

Creators need web3 identities that are not tied to any platform. They can use these identities to produce NFT works that cryptographically resolve into human-readable information. Decentralized identity can offer a missing trust layer of verifiable authorship for the $150 million NFT art market.

If we’re going to embrace the power of blockchain and decentralization, we’re going to need a real, usable ecosystem of client-side credentials to feed into a future world of stateless services. This means we need decentralized tools to help us verify the cryptographic signatures that give those credentials gravity.

How do we get verifiable authorship for NFTs?

  1. NFT creators already use Ethereum addresses to mint NFTs. Now, they can easily use a DID to anchor their Ethereum address back to part of their identity expressed out in the world (through their website, their Twitter handle, and other facets of their social identity). This allows the artist to link their decentralized digital identity with their social identity, in a way that is not exclusively entrenched a single platform or service (like Facebook or Google), but rather represents them as a standalone individual within the web3 ecosystem.
  2. Creators can choose to have their DIDs, plus some affiliated human-readable information (such as a website, a twitter handle, etc.) show up in a public search engine when anyone searches for that name, NFT address they’ve created, or other credential related to that DID. These search results can also show all kinds of other identifiers from other blockchains, as well as service endpoints. Imagine a decentralized Google to help you search for NFTs, DIDs and other decentralized stuff.
  3. Creators can issue NFTs using the Ethereum addresses associated with these DIDs.
  4. Platforms selling NFTs can integrate a decentralized search API, so collectors can easily verify the authorship of the works they’re about to buy.
  • A search engine where users can find more about their NFT’s creator and beyond. We are creating an API to allow others to integrate this verification capability into their apps or marketplaces easily.
The above pictured webpage within the Serto Website shows our DID Document. We utilize the DIF .Wellknown Configuration to implement our DID within the Serto.id DNS record. Any NFTs minted with this DID’s Ethereum address are verifiably from us!

To illustrate the full concept, we have minted this very article as an NFT.

When queried in Serto Search, the Ethereum address that minted the NFT of this article will resolve to the Ethereum address at our beta site in human-readable language.

Don’t just take our word for it. Try it yourself below.

Verify that this DID belongs to Serto.id: https://beta.search.serto.id/domain/verify.serto.id

We are doing usability testing for our beta search and would appreciate feedback from NFT users. Please contact us here to participate.

Are you an NFT creator?

Be among the first to create verifiable NFTs.

Do you have an application or NFT issuance/sale platform?

Integrate Serto’s NFT Search API to verify NFTs within your app.

Serto makes decentralized identity technology easier for everyone to enjoy. Our work is powered by ConsenSys. Join us at Serto.ID.

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