NBA’s John Wall accused of copying NFTs

Thu 23 Sep 2021 ▪ 12h50 ▪ 3 min read — by Katie Donaldson

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) continue to gain popularity worldwide. And, of course, NBA players are not standing by idly. For example, John Wall has announced a line of “Baby Baller” NFTs, on Tuesday, 21st September, to raise $100,000 (~£73,000) for charity and the “Ballers community”. However, social media’s reaction is the opposite of what Wall probably expected it to be.

For context, Baby Ballers is an NFT project curated by Wall that aims to release 4,000 unique images or avatars. 

Wall’s blockchain-based project turned out to be a rip-off of a combination of repurposed images from a video game Fortnite and an animated film Boss Baby. The background, showing a basketball court adjacent to a building near coconut trees, is available on season 5 of Fortnite from Epic Games, while the character clearly resembles characters from Boss Baby.

Intense disapproval from the NFT community

“If you’re putting a 600 Ethereum (ETH) (~£1.24 million) valuation on your project, you might want to make sure all your art is unique,” said Twitter user @hotlneblng.

Other users noted potential legal issues if Wall’s team didn’t secure Epic Game’s permission to use the images since the company website says it allows users to create fan art and other content without commercial objective.

Twitter user @0x_fxnction summed up the general opinion pretty well: 

“Celebrity cash-grabs like this John Wall NFT coming out show that these celebs think they can take from the community,” he said. “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 three months?”

According to Baby Ballers’ official Discord server, the final NFTs would not use the Fortnite background. The team claimed to have reached out to Epic Games and was told that since the NFT project ultimately won’t sell the teased image, that it falls under their fan art policy.

The team announced hiring new artists and designers. Moreover, server’s moderators have warned users against spreading “FUD”—a common crypto industry term for “fear, uncertainty, and doubt.” In other words, anything deemed to be negative about the project is off limits.

Stealing artworks isn’t limited to individual NFT creators, either. For example, Solana (SOL) and Polygon made copycat versions of CryptoPunks — rebranded as SolPunks and PolygonPunks. 

NBA player John Wall is launching an NFT collectibles project called Baby Ballers. However, the project’s first teaser image appears to have been copied. 

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Katie Donaldson avatar
Katie Donaldson

I went full time crypto back in June 2018, and have never looked back. I want to help persuade as many people as possible to come and build the decentralised future! Let’s go!


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and should not be taken as investment advice. Do your own research before taking any investment decisions.

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