The team behind the design of NBA Houston Rockets player John Wall’s non-fungible token may have ripped off one of the backgrounds directly from the popular online game Fortnite.
Wall first announced he planned to release a line of “Baby Baller” non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, on Sept. 21 to raise $100,000 for charity and the “Ballers community.” However, once he posted a preview of the tokenized artwork on Twitter, social media users were quick to notice that the background appeared to be lifted from Fortnite.
The image, available on season 5 of Fortnite from Epic Games, shows a basketball court adjacent to a building near coconut trees. Though Wall’s preview included one of the Baby Ballers on the court spinning a basketball on his finger, many commented that the artwork was a seemingly lazy attempt to get into the NFT game.
John, why is the background of your NFT ripped directly from a Fortnite screenshot? pic.twitter.com/tgcV8XeYaq
— themariokarters.eth (@themariokarters) September 22, 2021
“If you’re putting a 600 ETH ($1.7 million) valuation on your project, you might want to make sure all your art is unique,” said Twitter user hotlneblng_.
Others pointed out that there could be legal issues if Wall’s team didn’t secure Epic Game’s permission to use the images. The company website says it allows users to create fan art and other content with “no commercial objective,” but most other uses are prohibited.
Crypto Twitter user 0x_fxnction, an NFT creator and collector, defended the artists behind other more reputable digital creations:
If you have tons of money yet you still steal your NFT’s background from Fortnite, you really NGMI lmao
— fxnction (@0x_fxnction) September 22, 2021
“Celebrity cash-grabs like this John Wall NFT coming out show that these celebs think they can take from the community,” said 0x_fxnction. “Celebs really think they can come into an industry they know nothing about, never interact with the community, then launch a scam project they’ll abandon in 3 months?”
Wall’s NFT creation is not the first allegation of copying art in the crypto space. Earlier this month, Dan Hindes, the creator of an indie game named Wildfire, accused the team behind Epic Hero Battles — “10K animated NFTs fighting in a never-ending battle” — of stealing his artwork. After getting significant attention online, Hindes later reported the game had removed its creation, with the team blaming a “web dev” for the alleged mistake.
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The copycat practice isn’t limited to individual creators, either. Many have criticized Solana and Polygon for cloning CryptoPunks — rebranded as SolPunks and PolygonPunks. Some NFT marketplaces have removed the NFT artwork seemingly in response to a campaign claiming users might be confused as to the authenticity of the punks.
Cointelegraph reached out to Epic Games but did not receive a response at the time of publication.