Uyghur database used for NFTs changes licensing after outrage

Listen to this article.

The Xinjiang Victims Database containing images of thousands of incarcerated or oppressed Uyghurs has changed its creative commons licensing after a group of “famous artists” turned 100 database images into NFTs.  

The project, titled Digital Human Trade, turned the images of Uyghurs stored on the victim database into 3D t-posing NFTs before listing them on Opensea for 0.0145 ETH (about $25) each.

But, as reported by crypto tech tracker Web3 Is Going Great, the database’s creators spotted the NFTs and are now changing its creative commons license to a CC BY-NC, meaning their images can no longer be reused for commercial use. 

One Twitter user wrote “What in gods name makes sense about selling photos of detained actual people are you perhaps short of a marble”

Read more: NFT of Tucker Carlson being accidentally pro-choice raises $14K for abortion rights

In response to the NFTs’ launch, the database said via Twitter, “We’ve changed our license from a CC BY to a CC BY-NC (this should have been done originally). Commercial use of the data, including images of victims, is not okay. Selling and then donating not really okay either.” 

It added, “[The project] never contacted us about this. Also important to remind that we’re really an aggregator and do not “own” most of the data/images — the original sources are elsewhere and we just organize. Commercial-use people can check those and see the licences there.”

The Xinjiang Victims Database is an ongoing record of individuals that are imprisoned, vulnerable, or missing within China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. It consists chiefly of images of their faces.

According to the database, there’s been “a drastic rise in the mass incarcerations of its ethnic minority citizens — most notably, the Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Hui — with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, being locked up in de facto concentration camps.”

Sorry for Uyghur NFTs

The project’s creators subsequently apologized to Xinjiang Victims Database for launching the project. 

“The use of these data is limited to a way that does not destroy the dignity of the people from whom the data originated,” (via the project’s website).

Read more: All my Apes are racist: YouTuber wants Nazi-inspired NFTs burned

They also said they cannot share any details publicly and have attempted to contact the Xinjiang Victims Database Twitter account. 

Digital Human Trade claims to be run by “a group of famous artists in the world.” Profits from the project are apparently to be donated to the Xinjiang Victims Database GoFundMe account. At the time of writing, they have zero buyers and the project’s Twitter account has been restricted.

You can donate directly to the Xinjiang Victims Database through their GoFundMe page.

For more informed news, follow us on Twitter and Google News or listen to our investigative podcast Innovated: Blockchain City.