Can you screenshot an NFT?

Last Updated:
November 29, 2022
screenshot an NFT

A common question that pops up in the media speaks to the value of NFTs. If NFTs are just a digital image, why can’t you take a screenshot and also “own” that NFT without needing to pay eye-popping prices for it? If this was the case, then what is behind the NFT craze? Why would anyone pay over $2.3 million for a digital picture that anyone can have by taking a screenshot? Read on to learn about the value of NFTs.

Intro: Can you screenshot an NFT?

A common question that pops up in the media speaks to the value of NFTs. If NFTs are just a digital image, why can’t you take a screenshot and also “own” that NFT without needing to pay eye-popping prices for it? If this was the case, then what is behind the NFT craze? Why would anyone pay over $2.3 million for a digital picture that anyone can have by taking a screenshot?

Read on to learn about the value of NFTs.

What does it mean to screenshot an NFT?

Since NFTs are associated with an image file, which could be a piece of digital art or generative image, it’s tempting to consider taking a screenshot of the image and claim ownership over the NFT.

However, the blockchain technology behind NFTs is built to prove ownership in a transparent and trackable way. Whenever an NFT is created (i.e. minted) and transferred to someone, this movement is recorded on a blockchain.

The blockchain holds information about this transaction along with similar transactions, and is publicly accessible. The blockchain is also impossible to hack, which means the record of a transaction involving any NFT can’t be altered.

Since this transaction is both available to anyone and can’t be altered, it’s easy to identify the true owner of that NFT. Even if someone else takes a screenshot of that image file, they don’t have the blockchain transaction to prove that they own the NFT. 

person using camera on Android smartphone
NFT Screenshots

What happens if you screenshot an NFT?

Hint it's not so simple, and yet it also is.

Think about the Mona Lisa. The real, original painting is housed at the Louvre in France and the public trusts that this is the true Mona Lisa, based on verification by experts and the credibility of the Louvre as a notable museum with intimate knowledge of fine art.

Since the Mona Lisa is a painting that anyone can visit if they are at the Louvre, anyone can also take a picture of the Mona Lisa. But no one would think about the digital picture of the Mona Lisa as the same thing as actually owning the Mona Lisa. Trying to sell a picture of the Mona Lisa will not fetch nearly the same price, if any price at all, as having ownership over and being able to sell the real, original painting.

This concept can be applied to NFTs. Just taking a screenshot of an NFT doesn’t mean you own that NFT. This point speaks to the value of NFTs and the importance of blockchain technology in supporting the value of NFTs.

Mona Lisa painting
Crowd of people at the Louvre taking pictures of the Mona Lisa painting.

Tips

  • Some NFTs are valuable not only because of their artwork. They may also unlock additional benefits for their owners, such as exclusive access to future projects from the creators of that NFT or additional files included with the NFT that only the owner can unlock.
  • If you would like to screenshot an NFT, it’s simple to do so on a Windows PC or a MAC. On a Windows PC, press the PrtScn button to take a screenshot of everything in view on your screen. You can paste this image into Windows Paint or another graphics editor software to crop the NFT. For MAC users, hit Shift+Command+3 to take a screenshot of everything in view on your screen. Similar to Windows users, you can then paste this screenshot into any graphics editor software to crop out the NFT image you’d like to save.
  • It’s completely possible to take a screenshot of an NFT and to save it for personal (not commercial) use, for example if you are conducting research on that NFT project or if you simply like the art. However, keep in mind that a screenshot of an NFT is not the same as actually owning the NFT.
  • Although an NFT appears at face value to be just an image that you see on the internet, it is a one-of-a-kind digital asset that is published on a blockchain as code. The NFT lives on the blockchain indefinitely.
  • You can turn your screenshot of an NFT into an NFT but it will not be the same as the original NFT and it’s unlikely that anyone will pay money to buy a screenshot. Keep in mind that you will also have to pay fees to mint this NFT, which could be pricey depending on how high gas fees are at that time.  

Check out Cleo Abrams youtube video below if you're looking to dive deeper.

 

Closing: NFT Screenshots

A common misconception surrounding NFTs is that they are nothing more than a digital image. This idea can’t be further from the truth, as we discussed in this article. NFTs are backed by blockchain technology, which allows everyone to identify the true owner of that NFT. Rather than creating screenshots of NFTs, it’s more interesting (and more valuable!) to create your own NFTs using Metacommerce’s studio.

With that being said there are some interesting considerations such as how taking pictures and sharing NFT artwork can actually increase the effective value of the work.

Make sure to read our articles suggested to learn more.

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