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Opensea NFT Marketplace blocked Iranian Artists

“Life is politics, basically, but you don’t just go to a gallery and put the words ‘art’ and ‘politics’ on the wall.“

Luc Tuymans

There has been a great talk in Blockchain, crypto and NFT space about how the Web 3.0 going to open the doors to a truly decentralized world. Crypto influencers talk about it on panels and NFT art collectors hold twitter spaces, but the recent ban of Iranian and Venezuelans artists from American NFT Marketplace Opensea paints a different picture.

Artists in these countries reported their account being blocked, account history deleted and a 404 error message displayed, even on verified artists account (many of whom are considering to screenshot it and convert it into a NFT in protest). On top of that, buyers of these artists in non-sanctioned countries are unable to see the art in their NFT collection on Opensea.

So it brings us back to the point of all the big words thrown out in conferences and NFT events. Is the NFT space going to be decentralized for everyone or the privilege is reserved for a select few? Is it time for these crypto magnates to put their money where their mouth is and build a truly decentralized marketplace.

Artists put hours into their creation, some new to the technology learn NFT space from scratch and build a community of admirers and followers, only to find out that the freedom they were promised is all a sham. Is it all the same in web 3.0 as in real life?

Take Parin Heidari for example, a multidisciplinary Iranian NFT artist based in Italy, who was featured as one of the amazing women creator only a month ago by Opensea. She worked as a creative director and graphic designer for ten years before joining the Crypto art space full time; sold her first NFT in April 2021 & collaborated “TIMEPieces Build a Better Future: Genesis Drop” in January 2022. And now even though she has been 13 years outside of Iran, her verified account was removed without any prior notice.

Here is the response from opensea

We’re truly sorry to the artists & creators that are impacted, but OpenSea is subject to strict policies around sanctions law. We’re a US-based company and comply with US sanctions law, meaning we’re required to block people in places on the US sanctions lists from using OpenSea

Twitter @opensea

Though the NFT community is staying strong, supporting Iranian and Venezuelan artists, the damage is already done. Many are searching for a more politically neutral marketplaces, others feels cheated and may refrain from the crypto space altogether. Here are some of the artists affected by this unjust move:

Hope people in position, developers and influencers take notice of these discriminatory directive, call them out and really work towards building a more inclusive and decentralized space. Otherwise the space may continue to grow but it’ll never be welcomed as a decentralized one, but rather an illusion that many crypto opposers claim it to be.

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