HitPiece, a website that allows people to bid for NFTs of songs using cryptocurrency, has been accused of stealing music from musicians and auctioning off their work, with some threatening to sue the platform.
The platform wiped its content on Tuesday after hundreds of musicians claimed their work had been minted as a non-fungible token (NFT) and sold without permission.
NFTs – which can contain any type of data, including art and audio – have become extremely popular in recent years, with some of the more popular NFTs selling for millions of dollars.
HitPiece, however, appeared to scrape data from music streaming service Spotify in an effort to sell NFTs based off the songs of unwilling participants, and on Tuesday, the platform received heavy backlash over the practice.
Important Announcement! We’ve never made an NFT. Any company selling an NFT as The Midnight (such as @joinhitpiece) is illegitimate and fake. We are working to have our content removed as soon as possible. Please do not bid. Spread the word 💜— ｔｈｅ ｍｉｄｎｉｇｈｔ (@TheMidnightLA) February 1, 2022
this site “hitpiece” is selling nft’s of our band and MANY others without permission. if you’re in a band click the link you may be on here. cease and desist motherfuckers. nft’s are fraud https://t.co/BKOUieVenK— nigh eve6 (@Eve6) February 1, 2022
Hello, there is a site called @joinhitpiece that has NFTs related to my music for sale. I want you all to know that this is not authorized and I would never participate in NFTs. Do not buy anything with my name on it from this site. It is stolen.— Ben Prunty (@benprunty) February 1, 2022
“Someone has minted my work as NFTs on your website without my approval,” one artist complained. “Please remove these immediately. I did not mint these, I would never mint my work as an NFT, and this was done without my permission.”
“Hey @joinhitpiece why is my music on your website? I didnt authorize this s**t. You owe me MONEY (not crypto, REAL F**KING MONEY),” musician Nat Puff tweeted, who threatened legal action against the site.
Several record labels also sent cease and desist letters to HitPiece and threatened to take legal action against the company, resulting in the platform taking all of its content offline and issuing a statement.
Neither us nor our artists have consented to @joinhitpiece selling NFTs of our music. Crypto grifters prove once again that they do not care about artists or ethics- just their dystopian end goal of turning every facet of life into a stock market pump & dump scheme.— Needlejuice Records (@needlejuicerec) February 1, 2022
Someone is selling fake ATC nfts through @joinhitpiece. These are straight up NOT LEGITIMATE. Our label is sending cease and desists immediately, please DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY it’s a scam.— Chrissy Costanza (@ChrissyCostanza) February 2, 2022
“Clearly we have struck a nerve,” HitPiece said, adding that it was “very eager to create the ideal experience for music fans."
“To be clear, artists get paid when digital goods are sold on HitPiece,” the company claimed. “Like all beta products, we are continuing to listen to all user feedback and are committed to evolving the product to fit the needs of the artists, labels, and fans alike.”
Musicians shot back, however, stating that they had never given permission to HitPiece to sell the digital goods in the first place. Musicians also questioned how they would be paid when they had never even spoken to a representative of the platform, let alone drafted a contract or discussed payment terms.
In response to the backlash, HitPiece’s homepage has been replaced with a message stating, “We Started The Conversation And We’re Listening.”
The rise in popularity of NFTs has also resulted in an increase in theft and piracy, with internet users around the world able to ‘mint’ and sell NFTs without any copyright oversight. NFT copyright crimes are so rampant that an entire Twitter account with over 14,000 followers, ‘NFT thefts’, tracks cases on a day-to-day basis.