That’s not exactly how NFTs work.

One of the most common questions we get about NFTs especially from those who are new to the digital artwork space is “Why can’t I just take a screenshot?”. As with every new technology, during the early stages of adoption, it is sometimes challenging to comprehend what value it brings especially for something that is intangible like digital artwork.

In the context of digital art, NFT enables transparent and trackable ownership. Whenever an NFT gets transferred to someone else, it is recorded on the blockchain. And this record is completely accessible to anyone.

This allows the owner of the creation the NFT is linked with to be assured that they own the original piece authenticated by the blockchain. And by extension, NFTs also allows them the ability to trade the artwork in the future.

Pedro Fiuza/NurPhoto — Sipa, via Associated Press

Taking a picture of the Mona Lisa at the Louvre is not exactly the same as owning a piece from Leonardo da Vinci.
The same concept can be applied to NFTs for digital artwork. By taking a screenshot of an NFT, does not make you the rightful owner of the artwork.

Sure, you can admire the art for what it is just like how you can admire a picture of the Mona Lisa taken on your smartphone, but if the Mona Lisa appreciates even more in value over time, you cannot sell that picture of it on your smartphone to an art dealer because it is not the real thing.
And here’s where this common misconception starts.

An NFT in and of itself is not inherently valuable. Or rather it is only as valuable as the piece of art or creation that it ties itself to, or maybe certain perks it enables. Just like how a deed to a house is only as valuable as the physical house is or a Foo Fighters concert ticket being just a piece of paper if it doesn’t grant you access to the gig.

For some creators, NFTs also serve as a great tool that enables them to reward their buyers with perks through unlockable content. Through NFTs, a digital artist can seed vector files and 3D files that only unlocks when a buyer purchases the NFT. So before you take that screenshot of an artwork thinking you saved yourself a few ETH, think again. You might be missing out on some high-quality content that comes with the NFT.

Remember that time at the ball game where you walked past the Team Store on the way out and decided to pick up some merch to commemorate the occasion? A Dodgers cap perhaps to celebrate a win over the Yankees. If you really wanted, you could have saved a couple of bucks by buying a knockoff somewhere in Chinatown instead of from the official Dodgers store.

But we all know, in this case, we are buying more than just a cap here. We are supporting our favourite team.

With the emergence of NFTs, you too can support your favourite creators. By purchasing their creations, you are helping them continue down their artistic path. And as long as artists continue to get support from their community, they too can continue churning out pieces of work for their community to enjoy.

And who knows? Maybe 20 years from now, that original Dodgers cap from the year they won the world series that you picked up at that game might be worth something to someone.