A free non-fungible token minting tool from OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces online, is being overwhelmingly misused to commit fraud and create spam, the company said on Thursday.
The disclosure, spotted by Vice News, was made to justify a recent policy change from OpenSea, which just hours earlier announced that users would now only be able to “mint,” or create, up to five collections with 50 NFTs per collection using its free feature.
Although the “lazy minting” tool was originally created in 2020 to make it easier for artists of modest means to get into the NFT space by charging no upfront gas fees—the variable price miners charge to write new data on a blockchain—OpenSea said that it had recently seen misuse of the feature “increase exponentially.” In fact, more than 80% of NFTs created with its tool were plagiarized works, fake collections, and spam.
In response, the company announced that it was limiting the amount of NFTs users could make. The decision was met by backlash from its community, with users complaining that they were unable to complete their collections or upload new work, leading OpenSea to scrap the limit and apologize to its users all in the same day.
“Every decision we make, we make with our creators in mind. We originally built our shared storefront contract to make it easy for creators to onboard into the space,” OpenSea said on Twitter. It continued: “We didn’t make this decision lightly. We made the change to address feedback we were receiving from our entire community. However, we should have previewed this with you before rolling it out.”
OpenSea’s revelation highlights the growing problem artists and photographers are facing over NFTs. Scammers and bots have targeted countless of these creators, stealing their artwork and uploading it to marketplaces like OpenSea to create collections and take in a profit. According to PetaPixel, some creators have complained that OpenSea is slow to process takedown requests and offers poor support to victims of theft and fraud.
On Thursday, the company said it was working on several solutions to support its creators and prevent bad actors from abusing its free tool. Gizmodo reached out to OpenSea on Friday to ask for more details about these solutions but did not hear back by the time of publication.
“We commit to previewing these changes with you in advance of rolling them out,” OpenSea said on Twitter Thursday. “Please give us feedback along the way.”