Emily Ratajkowski
Credit: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Emily Ratajkowski is reclaiming the public use of her images using the latest trend in cryptocurrency: NFTs. The actress and model has long been vocal about her struggles to maintain a sense of ownership on photographs of herself and is drawing attention to the failings of copyright law.

In a bid to seize the means of redistribution, Ratajkowski is selling her own NFT. Titled “Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution”, the image in question appears to be a photo of Ratajkowski posing in front of a print of herself by artist Richard Prince. Prince is infamous for making minor adjustments to existing images and selling them on at eye-watering prices. In the ultimate twist of situational irony, Ratajkowski is re-appropriating Prince’s weakly appropriated image of her.

“The digital terrain should be a place where women can share their likeness as they choose, controlling the usage of their image and receiving whatever potential capital attached,” Ratajkowski published to Twitter. “Instead, the internet has more frequently served as a space where others exploit and distribute image.”

The image in question was shared to the model’s Instagram page, where it was revealed it would be auctioned off by Christie’s on May 14.

In an essay she wrote for The Cut last year, Ratajkowski describes how at the same time that Prince was making his fortune selling her image, she was still trying to save enough money to make a down payment on her house. Today, older, wiser, and richer, Ratajkowski will earn a portion of the money made on each NFT that she sells. Moreover, her scheme is immune to copyright law; should she be asked to stop selling and reposting the image, the file will remain on the blockchain network where she intended it to be.

NFTs (non fungible tokens) are based on the premise that while you can screenshot or download an image, audio file or video that’s not yours, you can never have true ownership of it without its direct purchase.

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