But We Can Right-Click-Save An NFT

Why you shouldn't be worried about NFT copies

One of the common arguments you'll come across on NFTs is, "If you can right-click-save an NFT, why pay for it?"

The simple answer to that is that you're paying for the ownership and not the digital file. But if we were to dive further, and ask what exactly makes ownership so valuable, then it's about the social capital.

Why People Value Ownership

On the surface, ownership is a label that defines what is yours or mine, and there isn't a need to pay for it. But it really depends on what the good is, and as an item becomes increasingly valuable, there is a greater propensity for people to identify it as theirs.

Let's look at some things people claim ownership over: An identity, a property, an online account, a bank account, territorial rights, expensive items.

If we were to spot the common traits, these entities are scarce, and valuable. It could also be a social need to identify ourselves, otherwise Citizen #1234 would be no different from Citizen #9876. Hence, it's largely about an outward identity that others use to recognise and distinguish who you are.

Ownership And Social Capital

In establishing our social identity, we value our identities in two ways – how others recognise us, and how we identify ourselves. People value ownership because others recognise them by that symbol of status. And perhaps more intrinsically, people value ownership because it gives them a sense of belonging, an identity that binds them to a community.

As social creatures, we interact with one another and in that process, we use different entities to distinguish our social status. Whether it's a branded apparel, a club membership, places you hang out, or the people whom you socialise with, these are all a form of social capital.

Eugene Wei wrote an article about how we are all status-seeking monkeys and how social networks give us our social capital. While I agree largely with him that we humans seek out social status, I would prefer to think of it as an intrinsic need rather than an extrinsic desire.

Nonetheless, the point to consider is that NFTs as a symbol of ownership, allows social capital to be realised. Just as owning a Punks (and to be seen owning one) immediately elevates you to a status of a crypto elite, you might likewise think the same of someone carrying a Birkin bag.

NFTs And Social Capital

If we were to consider NFTs as a form of social capital, and only one true owner can possess it, it is in fact more valuable than existing goods that confer a social status – because ownership is verifiable with NFTs.

It does not matter how many people can right-click-save it, and the more they do, the more they help to proliferate your NFT. Think of it as free marketing, if your NFT achieves a global recognition because of these unauthorised use, that recognition is what makes your ownership even more valuable.

It is the same for physical artworks. You can print out or buy a replica of a famous painting, but it will never diminish the value of the original artwork in the museum. This is why I'm not worried about right-click-savers just as I'm not worried about replicas. If anything, the verifiability of NFTs nullifies the threats of replicas and makes the ownership more valuable than before.

NFTs Are More Than Just Social Symbols

If you are starting to buy my argument, hold up, the discussion about social capital of NFTs applies to one particular type of NFTs – the Avatars. Many NFTs projects have many more use cases. Access to communities. Transferable gaming assets. Transferrable intellectual property rights.

It remains to see if these utilities of NFTs can eventually be realised but for now, if a social status matters to you, do consider getting one of the prestigious Punks or Bored Apes. Ownership of these NFTs confers you a social symbol, and you'll be recognised to be either crypto-early and crypto-rich, or just cash rich. Honestly, I missed out on those and I'm not a visionary who foresaw the value of NFTs.

But I'm learning, and beginning to appreciate the multi-faceted possibilities around NFTs. With time, I'm sure that more utilities will be built atop NFTs and that is what gets me excited about NFTs.

Right-click-savers? Thank you in advance for helping to market my NFTs.