Copyright? Stock? Art Theft? Don't Panic.

30 min read

Deviation Actions

artbymba's avatar
There are amazing articles on this subject. I wanted to gather links to some of them, so maybe they can reach more people. Because this subject really does need to be known by more people! Too many deviations violating copyright laws are floating around. It is just not OK. deviantART is a site about art. It is for artists, professional or not, to showcase their work, to exchange thoughts, ideas, critiques. It is for art appreciators to show some love to art. It definitely is not a place to submit images without even caring if you have any right to do that. Many of these people do not have an idea of what they are doing is art theft. Some of them are doing it intentionally. I want to cover copyright issues, stock images, how to use them, and what to do when you find stolen art. Nothing new. Just a reminder.

    Table of Contents:
  1. Basics
  2. Art Theft? Don't Panic.
  3. What are stock images?
  4. Fan Art And Copyright
  5. Copyright
  6. Does "Crediting" let me use whatever I want?
  7. Articles About Copyright And Stock Use


Images you find on internet via search engines are NOT free images that you can use to create new things;
unless you put them there or they are stock images, or you have permission from the original copyright holder of the image.
Images from promotional pictures of movies, books, tv shows are NOT free images that you can use to create new things;
unless you are the person or company who own that movie, book or tv show, or you have permission from the original copyright holder of the image.
Images of celebrities are NOT free images that you can use to create new things;
unless you shoot the photo yourself and you have a model releasing form from the celebrity, or you have permission from the original copyright holder of the image.

So CREDITING does not allow you to use and post everything in your creations. CREDITING is a requirement when you have permission to do so; not a solution.

What have we learned so far?
We can use only our own images created totally by us or,
We can use an image if have permission from the original creator/owner of that image or,
We can use an image if it is served as a "stock" image for people to use them.

In all occasions, you have to mention if that image is created with your own resources all by yourself, or created with other people's images with permission, or with stock images, in some visible place on the page you posted your art.


Lately, I realized that many deviants with stolen artwork submit a journal entry telling their watchers to report the "violator". Being a person who is in love with art; I want to help to the talent who created such beautiful things like many of people here. One or two days ago, I've both sent a request about the fake deviant to help desk and reported each of the stolen art in their gallery by clicking the link at the right column near the deviations. I went through the gallery of the artist who owns the originals of the artworks; provided a link to the original deviations for each of the stolen works in my report. I also included the dates of the original works to make clear that they were submitted by the "real" artist before the "fake" deviant; in the box that is an answer to "Is there anything else you think the staff should know?". I went through all of these things and then I received an answer in such a short time like one day. It is actually very surprising that the staff is so fast! I am once again in love with deviantart. In the message they stated that it is very important to have the copyright owner to make the report. It actually makes sense. I felt quite bad about taking action without even bothering to look at faq and taking people's time. Then I decided to write a journal about this. I found great journals about the subject covering details of taking action on deviantart against copyright infringement / abuse and stuff like that. I gathered them here with the faq related to this subject hoping to help spread the word.
Too much text? Then:

In a nutshell:
  1. If you find a stolen art that is your creative property; go and report the deviation providing a link to the original work of yours.
  2. If you find out a whole gallery of deviations stolen from you; do the same. Go and report the deviation providing a link to one of the original work of yours; with a note stating that whole gallery of works are stolen and include a link to the galley of the thief.
  3. If you find out a work by someone else is stolen; go to the "real" copyright owner's page and send her/him a note with a link to the stolen gallery/deviation page informing them about the theft and encourage them to report the deviation immediately.

This way we can be more helpful both to the artist and the stuff dealing with lots of notes and reports and things.

"To spam the help desk simply makes it harder for Staff to do their work!"

"Please also bear in mind that, in order for claims of copyright infringement to be valid, we need to hear from the actual copyright owners. If you know the targeted member please encourage her to report to us here herself. We do not have any reports from her at this time."

3. What are stock images?

Stock images and resources are images, brushes, vector images and many more things that are put on internet for you to use creating your art. Some sites/people are serving paid stock, some free. On deviantART you can find an almost unlimited quality stock and resources, some free some prized. All stock artists have their individual rules. So you have to find, read, accept and abide to their stock rules.

Common Stock Rules In A Nutshell

  1. CREDIT the stock artist by linking back DIRECTLY to the stock image you used:
  2. NOTIFY the stock artist with a link to your deviation, and show your work to them.
  3. NO REDISTRIBUTION. Do not upload the stock as it is, with minor changes, or claim it yours or offer it as a new stock image.

Why Rules?

Direct link? Why? Isn't it a trouble enough to link back to the stock? No. It is not. You have to credit back if you want to use someone else's resources. If you think it is a trouble then do NOT use their images. Go and create/shoot your own stock. Providing a direct link would make it easier for people to find the stock. As a person who wants to learn manipulation, when I see a photomanipulation I like, I trace the stock used in it. When there is only a link back to the stock artist's account, it is so difficult to find out that particular stock image if the stock artist has a crowded gallery.
If you download lots of stock to use later be sure to bookmark it, or rename it so you can easily find the source later when it is time to credit back.

Notifying stock artist is a great way to thank them; and also a way for you to show your art.

I do not think that I have to explain "no redistribution" rule, it is obvious. You are allowed to post things you created. That simple.

FAQ #217: What are "Stock and Resources" and can I use them in my submissions?

Stock images or other resources are materials created and offered with the express intent that they be used by other artists in their creations. Use of these materials are subject to the artist's license, which may or may not require the payment of fees and which may possess other specific rules or restrictions.

All creative works submitted to deviantART which uses third party resources must follow the license set by the provider so please check to ensure that you are following all of the terms of use associated with the resources used.

Failure to comply with the Terms and Conditions or License requirements attached to the resources which were used may result in administrative action being taken against your account in the event that the resource provider files a complaint concerning the breach of their terms.

Only the legal owner of an image or resource has the ability to offer the work for reuse and images taken from print or film, images of celebrities, models or manipulated "renders" are not considered valid stock or resources. Any website offering these materials is not regarded as a valid stock and resources site.

The lack of obvious copyright information does not imply that the imagery is free for use. Images that you have found via internet search engines or in books are commonly protected under copyright.

We urge all artists who rely upon stock or other resources to provide a link to the source in their description even if the owner's terms do not require it. This is in order to prevent any confusion or misunderstandings when using third party resources. When linking please be certain to link to the specific URL (web address) of the source material and not to the website in general.

4 Fan Art And Copyright

Fan art is a tricky subject when it comes to defining the lines in copyright issue. Take a look at deviantART's FAQ:

FAQ #572: What does deviantART consider "Fan Art" to be?

Original fan art are those works in which the submitting artist has done 100% of the work but the work itself depicts characters, scenes or other themes which were properly created by another creative person.

When creating fan art, which essentially copies from an established source, it is considered good etiquette to credit your inspiration. Please note that it may be considered unacceptable to precisely duplicate your inspiration by directly tracing or copying every single detail so that it is difficult to tell your work from the original, so please be certain to add your own personal touches and style.

DeviantART will not print fan art in its prints program.

CAUTION: Fan art may be copyright infringement and you may be forced to remove it by the copyright owner who may also choose to initiate other legal action. Please consult our Copyright Policy. This Article may provide further information.

Fan art should not feature screenshots, official artwork, scans, copyrighted photographs, or similar items.

FAQ #743: Can I sell fan art as prints?

deviantART does not allow the sale of copyrighted characters or works.

While artists can upload fan art as a deviation in their gallery, they may not make fan art available for purchase as a print without violating copyright and trademark protections.

Fan art that does include copyrighted and/or trademarked materials require formal written permission from the original copyright/trademark owner.

You may be seeing Fan Art available as prints that are clearly violations. Please note that images submitted through standard print accounts are not checked by our quality control staff until someone orders the print. At this time, the images that violate the prints guidelines (found in the FAQ) will be rejected. The buyer will be informed and not charged for the rejected print.

We appreciate inquiries and reports for specific images and prints if there is some question as to whether or not they violate our policies. Please include links in your correspondence with us.

5. Copyright

DeviantArt's Copyright Policy

Copyright and Your deviantART Submission

Here at deviantART we respect the rights of all artists and creative people worldwide and we expect our members to also demonstrate that respect and assist us in creating a beneficial and positive atmosphere for all deviantART visitors and members.

The bottom line is: Just about anything that is on this site, on the web, on TV, on CD's, on DVD's, in books & in magazines is probably copyrighted by someone.

Copyright can be a confusing territory for many people. In many cases the natural confusion over the sometimes varied circumstances surrounding copyright will lead people to rely on rumor or myth more often than the actual law which naturally confuses the matter even more.

In this document we will attempt to eliminate some of the confusion and counter many of the myths surrounding copyright and to present clearly the deviantART policies and practices with regard to copyright. The availability of this document should not be construed as rendering legal or other professional advice, and this document is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney. If you require legal advice, you should seek the services of a qualified attorney.

How do I get Copyright?

Under most national laws and international copyright treaties you receive a copyright automatically in any original work as you make it. Registration may be required to exercise some rights, like commencing a lawsuit. Copyright does NOT protect ideas. Copyright protects the expression of ideas or the ways in which an idea is materially placed or expressed in the work.

What is Copyright Infringement?

To simplify this question, copyright infringement occurs when you do certain things with a creative work which someone else produced without first getting the proper permission.

Some examples of copyright infringement (this is only a partial listing) can include:
  1. Placing someone else's photograph or creative work online without proper permission.
  2. Using a creative work commercially without permission.
  3. Adapting someone else's creative work found in one medium to another medium, such as making a book into a movie or a photograph into a painting.
  4. Modifying or editing a creative work without proper permission.

How Can I Avoid Infringing on Someone's Copyright?

The best way to avoid infringing on the rights of another creative person is to use your skill, talent and imagination to create your own completely original work. When we use the word 'original' we don't mean that you must come up with an idea which hasn't been used before - recall that copyright does not protect ideas. When used in reference to copyright "original" means that you created your work without referencing or deliberately copying anyone else's work during the process.

Ensure that all parts of your work, both visual and audio, are your own original creations. If you have used materials which are owned by other people or companies make certain that you have obtained proper permission or licensing for the use before you place your work online.

You can also obtain permission to use a copyrighted work by license. You can read more here and here.

What Sort of Things are Copyrighted?

The easy answer to this question is that just about any creative work that is less than 150 years old you might find should be considered copyrighted by default.

A work is not required to have a copyright statement printed on it or near it in order to be considered copyrighted so do not assume that the work is unprotected simply because you cannot see a notice written anywhere.

Also do not confuse the fact that a work is publicly available with the idea that it is in the public domain or free for use. Being easy to find on the internet does not affect a work's copyrighted status.

There are many exceptions to the 150 year guideline, but you are best advised to obtain legal advice from an expert if you intend to rely on the possibility that a modern work is not copyrighted.

Some Cautions

  1. In most cases it does not matter how much of the material you have used, whether it's a single frame, a few moments of audio, a short clip of video or any other sampling it's still considered to be protected by copyright and you still require the owner's permission for use.
  2. It doesn't matter how you obtained the material, it's still considered copyrighted and you still need permission.
  3. It doesn't matter whether or not you've credited the proper owner, it's still considered copyrighted and you still need permission.
  4. It doesn't matter if you are not selling it or making a profit, it's still considered copyrighted and you still need permission.
  5. It doesn't matter if you can find other people using things without permission, it's still considered copyrighted and you still need permission.
  6. It doesn't matter if you've edited it a little bit or made a few alterations, if it's recognizable it's still considered copyrighted and you still need permission.
  7. Read licenses carefully to understand the type of permission they provide. For example, there are many versions of the Creative Commons - each giving different permissions.

What Happens When You Submit Infringing Works to deviantART?

Any copyright owner following the procedures in this Copyright Policy can require deviantART to remove his or her copyrighted content in use by a member of deviantART. When through the proper notice we become aware that a submission to deviantART infringes upon the copyrights of another artist, creative person or company, we will immediately delete it. This is a legal requirement which we fulfill immediately; you will not receive an advanced warning and you will not be given an opportunity to 'fix it'.

If you believe that a submission on deviantART infringes on your copyright you may either report the submission using our internal reporting system or send us a copyright notice via mail or email. A member of staff will review your notice and act accordingly.

If you believe that one of your submissions was removed in error you may contact our helpdesk or otherwise file a counter notice.

If you are found to repeatedly post infringing content, your account will be suspended and serious offenders will have their account banned and deactivated. We consider three strikes as an indication of being a repeat infringer subject to ban. If you are found deliberately misrepresenting the copyrighted work of another as your own your account will be immediately banned and deactivated.

The copyright owner may also decide to sue you directly if you infringe his or her copyright in posting content to deviantART.

What about "Fair Use"?

"Fair Use" is the notion that some public and private uses of copyrighted works should not require the permission of a copyright owner. These circumstances are very limited, complex to analyze under the law and require the help of expert advice from a lawyer. We recommend you talk to your own lawyer if you want to know more about fair use as it applies to the work you are doing. If it turns out that it isn't fair use, you may be liable for very serious money damages.

To learn more about fair use you can go here, here, here, and here.

If you take my work down am I protected from a lawsuit?

No. Even if deviantART takes an infringing work down, you may still be responsible for very significant damages if the copyright owner decides to sue you.

Notification of Copyright Infringement

Instructions for Copyright Owners

This section contains the formal requirements of the Copyright Act with respect to the rights of copyright owners whose content appears on deviantART without authorization and instruction to copyright owners.

To file a copyright infringement notification with deviantART (also commonly known as a "DMCA takedown notice"), the copyright owner or an authorized agent acting on his or her behalf will need to send a written communication that includes substantially the following:

  1. A physical or electronic signature of the copyright owner or of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material. In this regard please provide URLs when you identify the location of the material.
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law.
  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

To file a DMCA takedown notice, you may use our form here. This form requires a deviantART account, which is available at no charge by signing up. Otherwise you may use the following method:

Written notice should be sent by mail or by PDF attached to an email to deviantART's designated agent as follows:

DMCA Complaints
deviantART, Inc.
attn. Daniel Sowers Jr
7095 Hollywood Blvd #788
Hollywood, CA 90028 Fax: 323.645.6001
Under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity is infringing may be subject to liability. Consult your legal counsel or see Section 512(c)(3) of 17 U.S.C. to clarify or confirm the requirements of the notice.


If you want to send deviantART a counter notice, please review this information for instructions.

Under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability. Please consult the Terms of Service and deviantART's Etiquette Policy in which we explain that you may be removed from the site if you are a repeat infringer or if you violate deviantART's policies.

6. Does crediting let me use whatever I want?

FAQ #306: Does "Crediting" let me use whatever I want?


You must obtain written permission from the proper and legal owner of any work which you wish to use, credit alone does not replace this requirement. Failure to obtain proper permission for the use of works protected under copyright can leave your deviantART submission vulnerable to being removed following a claim of infringement against it.

Explicit permission is not required when you choose to use valid stock resources. Please check your sources carefully to ensure that they are valid stock and please be certain to obey all rules, terms and conditions which may be attached to that resource

7. Articles About Copyright And Stock Use

Copyright for dAmmies by Jinbae
Protect Your Work, COPYRIGHT YOURSELF. by laceratedwrists
Fan Art Law by techgnotic
Copying vs. Plagiarism vs. Copyright Infringement by realitysquared
Not legitimate stock tips how to report by Wesley-Souza
Legitimate Stock Resources and Redistribution by lindowyn-stock
CEA Blog: How to Submit an Abuse Report by communityops
How to deviantART: Giving Credit by JRCnrd
How to Credit Stock by fuguestock
Copyright for dAmmies by Jinbae
Copyright: What you need to know! by Fhalei
Wishes about DD suggestions and Stock and kindness by CelticStrm-Stock

© 2014 - 2022 artbymba
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4LadyLilian's avatar
That's brilliant work Clap 
artbymba's avatar
Lolita-Artz's avatar
awesome,thank you!!
Birdsatalcatraz's avatar
I know how much work has gone into this, thank you xxx
artbymba's avatar
Aww, thank you! :heart:
Birdsatalcatraz's avatar
Deena-Lee-Sauve's avatar
Great Job!!! You Covered Everything! Well Done!:tardclap: 
artbymba's avatar
Thank you very much! I am glad you found it helpful. :heart: :la:
Deena-Lee-Sauve's avatar
Really Well Put Together!!Every Newcomer Should Get It Sent To Them! :)
artbymba's avatar
Thank you sooo much. :)
mercurycode's avatar
That's brilliant, will link it on my profile page in my "usefull stuff" box :)
artbymba's avatar
Thank you so much. :heart:
Elsapret's avatar
Very informative!  Thank you!
artbymba's avatar
Cassy-Blue's avatar
Instant fave for reference in the future. This article couldn't have come at a better time. I had to explain to someone earlier today about celebrity images are NOT ok to use in their art and this nicely sums up many points.
artbymba's avatar
Ah! Thank you so much.
There are already a lot of articles, tutorials about this but still there are people who ignore it.
Cassy-Blue's avatar
yeah, I know. I have the deviantART faqs for stock in my favorites so I can grab them at any time for people
artbymba's avatar
TRP-SLS-ScifiAndArt's avatar
I placed it in my profile. =)
artbymba's avatar
Ah, thank you very much...
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