We talked about how to prevent copyright infringement as a growing artist a few weeks ago.
And, today you’ll learn how to prevent and defend your art from others infringing on your copyrights.
Table of contents
1. Know your rights and defend your art
2. Prevent online art theft
3. Find out if someone has stolen your art
4. Uh, oh! Someone has stolen your art -- Now what!?
5. Submitting a DMCA takedown notice to defend your art
-- Important considerations --
1. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND DEFEND YOUR ART
Every so often I hear growing artists say that they wouldn’t be upset if someone stole their art. That they’d be flattered.
That it would mean their art was good enough to be stolen.
But, that perception only lasts for so long. Once someone actually steals their art, they no longer take it as a compliment, but an attack on their copyright.
And rightfully so.
You have rights to your art from the moment you create it. And you also have the right to defend it from others who wish to abuse your creations.
[Note: Even so, whenever possible, make sure to register and copyright your creations for further protection.]
I create many fan arts on different topics and the most popular ones feature Markiplier and Jacksepticeye.
A while ago someone used my art of these youtubers in a Youtube video without permission or linking back to my gallery.
When I asked him to credit me for the art – someone else jumped in and told me that the youtuber in question could do whatever he wanted because since I had drawn fanart of people I didn’t own, I couldn’t claim copyright over my own art – and thus, everyone could use my art as they pleased.
Can I get a "Hell, no!"?
Don’t let anyone mislead you! You have both the copyright and the right to defend your art if you don't like the way in which someone has used it.
This particular story had a happy ending and I've worked with that youtuber in multiple projects since.
The issue was that random user trying to convince me that I didn't have ownership over my own art and that anyone could use it.
People will try to manipulate you into giving up your rights and you have to stay strong and defend your rights if someone has infringed on them.
2. PREVENT ONLINE ART THEFT
The best thing you can do to save yourself a few unnecessary headaches is to prevent and dissuade thieves from stealing your art.
The best way to do this is by adding a visible watermark to your works before you share them online.
But, don’t add a watermark that is small, hard to see and easy to crop out.
Ideally, your watermark should:
Have your username (if you have the same one across all your social media) or your main gallery’s address.
Be easy to see and read, so that just by looking at your watermark, people can find your online gallery
Be in a place where it can’t possibly be cropped out without ruining the piece
Have reduced opacity so that people can easily see it but not be too distracting
Here's a sample of one of my artworks. The arrows show the position of all the watermarks I included in the piece.
If you can, be sure to upload small files to your online galleries and keep the high-res file for yourself. That will make it harder for thieves to profit off your art in most cases.
3. FIND OUT IF SOMEONE HAS STOLEN YOUR ART
Most of the times, someone will warn you that your art has been stolen and point you in the right direction to find the thief.
But, if you don't want to wait until someone else stumbles upon stolen copies of your art and you want to take the initiative, there are a few things you can do.
1. Search for the main keywords you used in your art
You need to do a Google search using the keywords that describe your piece the best.
When I want to check if my Markiplier, Jacksepticeye and/or Five Nights at Freddy's fanarts have been stolen, I search for the main keywords in each piece:
Markiplier FNAF fanart
Markiplier Jacksepticeye fanart
Alternatively, you can try searching for your piece's title and see what shows up.
2. Search for your username
This is another good option. If they downloaded the image from your site, your username is probably included in the name of the file.
So, it will be easier to find stolen copies by using your username.
However, this may trigger all of your official and legal art to show up, so you'll have to filter the results.
Most of my art is posted on deviantART and, oddly enough, that's also the place where people steal & repost my art the least.
So, to make it easier to spot stolen copies, I'll tell Google not to show me any result from deviantART.
To do this, all I have to do is search for: rydi1689 -deviantart
Or, in your case: [Username] -[Website you want to omit in the search results]
And it will automatically filter the results and show everything but deviantART content. Now, I can browse around the content and notice stolen content faster.
Filter your own results to spot stolen copies of your art faster!
Want to know more about defending your art from thieves? How to get the artwork removed without having to scream at the thief or feel helpless when they block you?
Click on the button below to read the full post and find out how to protect your art and leave the drama for another llama!