OpenSea’s Move to Cancel Royalty Enforcement Prompts Reflection on Creator Rights

's Move to Cancel Royalty Enforcement Prompts Reflection on Creator Rights

The marketplace also decided to stop listing BNB Chain NFTs

OpenSea made a bold decision to cancel its enforced creator royalty policy. This decision not only caught creators off-guard, but also ignited a heated debate surrounding the implications for artists, collectors, and the NFT ecosystem at large. Yuga Labs has decided on its departure from OpenSea. Who will be the next to follow suit?

Table of contents

OpenSea revamps creator fee enforcement

On 18 August, OpenSea announced changing its creator fee enforcement policy. The key changes include:

  • The Operator Filter will be retired, allowing creators to access all marketplaces from 31 August.
  • Collections that previously used the OpenSea Operator Filter and those on non-Ethereum blockchains will have the creator’s preferred fees enforced on secondary sales between 31 August 2023 and 29 February 2024.
  • Improved visibility for buyers, making it easier to identify secondary listings featuring the creator’s preferred fees, effective from 31 August.
  • Sellers will have enhanced flexibility to either select the creator’s preferred fee or customize their creator fee payment starting 31 August.
  • The shift maintains creator fees but with a focus on flexibility.

According to OpenSea’s official blog post, its shift in policy emerged from careful observations. The OpenSea Operator Filter, intended for uniform creator fee enforcement, faced limited ecosystem-wide support. Notably, users leveraging Blur‘s lending protocol could sidestep the filter, achieving zero royalty payments.

The news echoed through social media and NFT circles. Creators, dependent on royalties for perpetual income, expressed worries about the change. Furthermore, Yuga Labs’ withdrawal of its collections from OpenSea intensified these feelings.

OpenSea vs. Blur: a battle for NFT marketplace dominance

Once the leader in the NFT marketplace sector, OpenSea now faces an ongoing challenge from Blur. On August 19, OpenSea also revealed its decision to cease support for BNB Chain NFTs, redirecting its focus towards Layer-2 networks like Base

OpenSea’s recent redirection of focus appears primarily geared toward boosting trading volume, and a comparison of trading volumes on both platforms might support this assumption.

As of 21 August, Blur boasts a 30-day NFT trading volume of $269.31 million on Ethereum, towering over OpenSea’s $74.27 million. Remarkably, Blur’s trading volume is approximately 3.6 times higher than that of OpenSea.

Analyzing market share paints a revealing picture, with Blur commanding a dominant 44% share of the market, while OpenSea trails with a modest 13% in August.

marketplace ranking

Although Blur has a higher NFT trading volume than OpenSea, the latter notably contributes the majority of royalties. According to insights from punk9059, over 65% of total royalties are attributed to OpenSea. 

royalty contribution

Consider Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club collection as an illustration. From 1 June to 21 August, its trading volume reached $286 million on Blur and $21 million on OpenSea. 

trading volume BAYC

Yuga Labs applies a 2.5% creator’s fee, suggesting potential fee collections of $7.1 million and $536,107 on the respective platforms. However, this isn’t the actual scenario, particularly when trading occurs through Blend, where royalties aren’t attributed to creators.

Although OpenSea is discontinuing enforcement, it’s worth mentioning that this move isn’t enforcing 0% royalties. Instead, it still allows creators to set their own terms. 

The potential rise of project-dedicated marketplaces

NFTs have introduced a remarkable innovation by enabling perpetual and irreversible creator royalties. However, as long as marketplaces dictate royalty policies, content creators remain without complete ownership. This reality has spurred the emergence of creator-focused platforms and ecosystems that establish their own marketplaces to safeguard creator rights and autonomy.

A case in point is Art Blocks, the cornerstone of NFT generative art. In March, the platform unveiled its secondary marketplace, dedicated to upholding creator royalty protection and preserving authenticity. Following OpenSea’s announcement, Art Blocks reaffirmed its commitment to protecting creators’ rights through its own NFT marketplace.


Unlike Yuga Labs’ collections, which are predominantly traded on Blur, Art Blocks sees a substantial portion of its collectors continue trading on OpenSea. As of 21 August, Art Blocks boasts $5.32 million in 30-day trading volume, with a considerable chunk taking place on OpenSea. 

art blocks

So the potential departure of Art Blocks from OpenSea could indeed affect the platform’s revenue. This effect becomes particularly significant given the rising popularity of NFT generative art.

OpenSea’s decision to sunset royalty enforcement signifies the loss of another major NFT marketplace that advocates creators. This change could potentially trigger a trend where more projects choose to create their own marketplaces. 

Following Yuga Labs’ announcement of departure, it’s not difficult to imagine that they might initiate the process of launching their marketplace shortly.

Nurturing NFT’s future through change

Beyond the headlines, the impact of OpenSea’s new royalty policy transcends simple numbers. It has become a touchstone for discussions surrounding the relationship between platforms, creators, collectors, and the delicate balance of power within the NFT landscape. 

Amidst these discussions, solutions to address the issue are emerging. Some propose to enforce royalties at the protocol level—a prospect already achievable by platforms like Solana and Hedera. However, their NFT ecosystems remain notably smaller compared to Ethereum’s mainstream adoption within the industry. 

However, DappRadar’s recent report highlights a diminishing dominance of Ethereum in the NFT space. Will creators opt for ecosystems that offer better support, or will they adhere to prevailing market demand? As different market participants continue to explore the realm of NFTs,  a landscape with different dynamics and untapped possibilities is undoubtedly in the making.

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