We, the Maldivian artist community, are disappointed to have discovered yet another case of stolen art listed as a NFT, particularly inside our own community.
The artwork belonged to Ali Rishwaan (@cartman.ayya), a talented local artist, from whom it was taken from his Instagram and published by another party, a local entrepreneur, Sharif Mohamed (@sharifmv), on the Openseas platform for sale without the artist’s consent.
Following the artist’s request, the artwork was removed. It was uploaded on late January 2022, and he was actively pushing the same Openseas account on Twitter until February 18th 2022. Yet Sharif, claims his account was hacked. On social media, two other cases of stolen paintings were highlighted in the same way. The artworks of Shimha Shakeeb (@art_by_shimha) and Razzan (@__razzan__) were found on Openseas platform on sale by anonymous merchants.
It is with deep regret to find such locals to still have the mindset that degrades and disrespects other fellow hard-working locals. Due to growing concerns within our art community, we, MAC, have found it necessary to reinforce the relevant parties of law to take action to help stop such acts. We as a community are in need of the law to help our art community grow better in Maldives.
It’s time that copy rights law be changed enough so that the law protects artworks, as well as the artist, in preventing other parties from copying, selling and exhibiting their work without consent.
Yumna Maumoon, Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage, tweeted that such behaviours should not occur in our culture, and that the government is working on a draft for copyright law. She did not, however, say when it would be completed.
On social media, artists and others are raising and voicing their worries. Many artists claim that this government has been in power for more than three years and that the copy rights law has yet to be established. They also expressed dissatisfaction and questioned the purpose of an Arts, Culture, and Heritage Ministry and their mandate?
In the last three years, many political appointees have been assigned to the Ministry of Arts, Culture, and Heritage and the National Centre for the Arts-NCA, but have yet to see any progress, are they performing their duties? The National Art Gallery is still in the same state, and the lack of progress has sparked a lot of concern among the Maldives art community.
We would like to see the copyrights law implemented as quickly as possible, as well as a brighter future for the artists in this community.