In the precariousness of Web3 open-source code, iterative development and “move fast” ethos, things break. And through breaking, things are also made. A new project allows anyone to create a copy of someone else’s NFT, aptly named “Mimics.”
But how does Mimics work, and what does it mean for the NFT art market to have a new variety of fakes? And will it result in token standards being upgraded and improved?
I met the anonymous founder of Mimics in a “Web3” office that was brimming with software developers writing lines of code as they nodded their heads in time to deep house and sipped cups of tea.
On semi-regular occasions, I drop in to visit some local devs in the blockchain space and learn more about what they are working on. They have always been welcoming and jovial, inviting me to share in their ritualistic Friday afternoon “meme creation hour” and have a go at spinning the in-office DJ decks.
Artists’ impression of how Mimics works with CryptoPunks and Bored Apes.
They even offered me a desk to work from there for free, provided I clean the office once a week. I told them where to go (they were joking, but perhaps only half-joking as I stared at the overgrown vines living in the exposed beams in the roof).
It was at this office that I met the anon who would later take an extended sabbatical from their hand in engineering successful projects and, in their tinkering, discover and open-source a way to mimic your NFTs.
Stealing your NFTs
“I think I just broke the NFT market,” the anonymous founder told me flatly.
“Really? How?” I responded.
It turns out that art NFTs have a line of code in them called “tokenURI” or “URI” that acts like a pointer to the image being displayed. As the code is public, you can redirect your own NFT to make it look like anyone else’s. If you want your NFT to display a Cypherpunk, a Bored Ape, or how about a Pudgy Penguin? You got it.
The tokenUri NFT metadata. Source: Coinmonks
This means that your rare and expensive cartoon image NFT can…