Photographer Makes Her Widely Stolen Image Free to Use After Selling It as an NFT for $300K

Hawaii Road Photograph

In 2017, Canadian photographer Cath Simard snapped a picture of an empty road on the verdant Hawaiian island of Oahu and posted it on her Instagram account. She didn't realize that her image would quickly go viral, with people reposting the same image across social media, most of the time without providing proper credit to her as the photographer. Four years later, Simard has taken back control of her work by selling the iconic image as an NFT for $300,000 and then releasing its rights.

It is the first image of its kind to have its rights released after its 1/1 NFT is purchased on the blockchain. The project is called #FreeHawaiiPhoto, and its intention is to give artists compensation for their work and creativity, while also allowing others the chance to enjoy its usage for free. “This project originated from the idea that the virality and large use of an image in the physical and online world increases the importance of provenance and therefore the value of the NFT,” it says on the #FreeHawaiiPhoto website.

So, instead of fighting a never-ending onslaught of copyright infringement cases and settling for small payouts, Simard auctioned a single-edition NFT of the photo to a prominent collector known as @gmoneyNFT. “NFTs are a new possibility when it comes to making a living off your art. I’ve made more in NFTs within the last 6 months than [I have] licensing images for my entire life,” Simard says.

“The NFT space is one in which if you’re the first to do something, it’s usually seen as very high value, and this [particular concept] has never been done before,” she continues. It is her hope that the #FreeHawaiiPhoto project sets an example of an alternative path for other creatives who struggle with copyright infringement and usage rights.

You can learn more about #FreeHawaiiPhoto via its website, download high-resolution files of the image here, and see more of Simard's photography via her Instagram and online portfolio.

Canadian photographer Cath Simard sold her widely stolen photograph of a road in Hawaii as an NFT worth $300,000, then released its usage rights.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by C A T H S I M A R D (@cathsimard)

The project is called #FreeHawaiiPhoto and its intention is to give artists compensation for their work, while also allowing others to enjoy the usage of the image for free.

#FreeHawaiiPhoto: Website
Cath Simard: Website | Facebook | Instagram
h/t: [PetaPixel]

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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