Providing Stock + Resources - Part 03: Stock Rules

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kuschelirmel-stock's avatar

This is Part 3 of Providing Stock+Resources - A Beginners Guide. It is aimed at resource providers new and old - I'm trying to give some tips and pointers based on my experience both as a stocker and a photomanipulator. If you have anything to add, feel free to comment, I still feel like I forgot soooo much Sweating a little... Any other comments are of course welcome as well. I hope this helps at least some Heart

>>What you will find in this guide:

  • Part 01: Introduction incl. Note on Copyright
  • Part 02: What should I put online? incl. Subject Choice | Dealing with Abuse | Technical Basics for Stock Images | Lighting setup | Tips and tricks on getting the most out of your camera | Post-processing images
  • Part 03: Stock Rules incl. Where to keep the Stock Rules? | What to put in your Rules | Refining as you go along [you are reading it]
  • Part 04: Uploading your stock to dA incl. Packs or Singles | Making sure people remember it's your stock | Upload choices | The right category | Keywords | Artist's Comment | Organizing your Gallery
  • Part 05: Premium Content incl. How to sell Stock | What information not to forget to give

Stock Rules

The stocker as a person is the giving type, no question. But there are still some things you may want to prevent people doing with your stock. Just remember: there will always be someone who abuses your images and disregards your rules. Therefore it is very important to think about which images you want to upload in the first place as already mentioned in Part 02.

Where to keep the Stock Rules?

Before we get to the content, some thoughts on the "where":
  • Artist's Comment: Lots of stockers, especially when starting out, put their rules in some shape or form in the artist's comment. The good thing here is that this is a place everyone downloading this particular image will most likely look, but the bad thing is that if your rules should change or need an updated wording, you have to go and fix every single artist's comment. However, you can (and I think should) still put something in there to make sure it is clear that you have rules, where they can be found and you expect them followed, maybe with a hint at what is most important to you.
    • Example from my stock: "By downloading, you agree to abide by my rules - you can read them in my journal. [...] NO REUPLOADING, NO PREMADES, NO BRUSHES ETC CAN BE MADE WITH MY STOCK! only art!!!"
  • Your Journal: My suggestion is to use one journal to keep and update your stock rules. This journal can be linked to from wherever you like (incl. the artist's comment, your userpage, your current journal, in txt files in your packs,...), making it the one and only source for your rules. The journal can be long and I think it's a good idea to include everything that you get asked frequently over the course of your time as a stock provider. Try to keep the language as clear as possible - you will still get questions, but you can use those to refine your language.
  • Userpage: If your normal rules are kinda long (like mine), I think it's a good idea to keep a short version on your userpage covering the most common uses plus a link to the full rules. If your rules journal is more compact, a link only will be enough. You can put it in the deviantID part of the userpage or into a custom module, whichever you prefer.
  • Elsewhere: if you think it will help, add either the link to your rules or even the combination of your short version plus the link to the long version anywhere you like - just keep in mind that the short version may be subject to change as you go along and you don't want to need to go back and update everything.
    • Example: I always add a txt file with the short version and a link to the rules journal in my stock packs.

If English isn't your first language or you feel uncertain if what you have written makes sense for someone on the outside, go on and ask someone. Either a friend on or off dA or someone from the stock and resources community. We are a rather helpful bunch, including (but certainly not limited to) our CVs Elandria, PirateLotus-Stock and CelticStrm-Stock :love:

What to put in your Rules

Well... basically, you are the copyright holder and you can - in theory - decree that your images may only be used during the full moon in blue manips. But, realistically speaking, two things will prevent you from doing this:
  1. For one, users may opt to just not use your stock if your rules feel too constricting, leaving you with lots of stuff uploaded but none used.
  2. Secondly, if someone doesn't adhere to these kinds of rules, how will you know and what will you do if you find out someone broke them?

Thing is that at the point when your rules have been broken, the damage is done (in that you cannot "unsee" an image that you find to be offensive) and the question is now how you will deal with this.

Dealing with Rule Breakers:

If you post child stock and say it is not to be used in scary art (because you want to show your kids the manips) and someone comes along showing you something you deem to be too scary (to show your kids). Now you can get the deviation removed for breaking your rules to get the deviation removed (by asking the person or via admins). BUT because you've already seen the image which feels offensive and violating to you and your child, a stocker who has not put thought into how to deal with abuse might tend to throw a fit and get so upset it may objectively be out of proportion with the offense.

To avoid getting upset, you need to be prepared!

In the example above, this can mean either deciding against uploading child stock at all or uploading it, but being very specific on your rules. "Scary art" is a very hazy expression. It may well be that the offender in this case just had a different view on what is "scary" - maybe you didn't say you wanted to share the images with your 4 year old (which may not be enough to clear up the boundaries, but it might already help tons!).

So, the first time you encounter a breach of your rules, try to figure out if your rules are concise and update them if necessary. Don't rip out the offender's throat, ask him to remove the image or use somene else's stock instead. If s/he gets nasty with you, file an official report with dA and stop talking to the person (use the ban tool if you need to)! This is very important because getting worked up will lead to nothing but you getting even more worked up as the "argument" progresses. It may kill your joy doing stock!

If you are unsure how to deal with someone, you can always contact a fellow stocker or one of the CVs - we all love to help, otherwise we wouldn't be stockers to begin with ;) But try to always keep calm. You don't have to answer anything on the spot. You can sleep over it, let it settle. And instead of thinking "they broke my rules! Those f***ers! I'll kill them!!!!" maybe you can get to "ok, my rules were broken. Now what do I reasonably do?" This may include accepting that one breach (and in the example above simply not showing the image to the kids) and adjusting your rules for next time plus telling the offender they did something you hadn't anticipated and in the future, they should use different stock.

The Reasoning behind Reasonable Rules

What exactly makes rules "unreasonable"? Well, if you have rules in place that make your users to jump through hoops to use your stock or that stifle creativity, I would call them unreasonable. After all everyone starts somewhere and you simply cannot expect only the masters to use your stock. Practice makes perfect and I do bet that counts for your stock art, too - in fact, I am certain it does.

Some of my favourite examples:
  • "no horses are to be used with my stock" - who are you to dictate subject matter? Is it because you don't want to see all those half-assed tries at first manips on horse rpg sites? Do you feel offended by manips that just aren't that good, technique-wise? I can only reiterate: everyone starts somewhere. You should see my first "manips" - they were signatures and avatars for a forum. They were crude and without much skill, but I LOVED doing them and others loved getting them and using them. I imagine it's much the same for the horse lovers. And besides, I have seen masterpieces with horses in them that I was very glad to have had the chance to see because they used my stock and notified me.
  • "Credit on the picture if used outside dA" - this one is a bit of a grey area, because I know where it comes from. In some forums, because the images are used in signatures etc. you can hardly give credit in written form underneath the image, so to still give credit properly, it is often the norm to put the credits as text on the image. BUT if you look at dA artists, there are a lot of implications to this rule outside of forums. For example, an artist posting their work to other art sites (facebook page, account on behance, etc) where they can easily put in the credit below the image (with a link, too!). It looks unprofessional to have a stock list of 20 sources on your image - no one is going to do that. On top of that, there are sites (like redbubble) where you can only upload one version for preview and print. Unprofessional doesn't even begin to cover that one ^^; If that is really what you want the stock users to do, they will search for different stock instead of using yours.

** if you have some more examples of "unreasonable rules", I would love to hear them in a comment! **

Who are you as a stocker to tell an artist what to create?!
If you don't want your models cut to pieces, that is understandable, but if you were to ask people not to cut up your backyard for a manip, who is going to say "sure thing, I wouldn't want my yard cut up either"? Or if you say you don't want your child stock used for horror works, no one will ask twice, because it makes sense. But if you photograph a spider and ask people the same, they will start to frown.

Sometimes rules are not enough!

Again, I know that it sucks to have to always account for the worst, but I'd rather you stop to think for a second than find your hastily uploaded stock abused in a way you cannot forgive and forget. I'm thinking of model stock and especially of child stock. In those cases, you may even want to restrict access to your stock by only uploading previews and having people who want to use it contact you for the high res files (either for money or points or for free). That way you can control who uses the images in a way you never could with "just rules".

Some examples of what you can often find in stock rules:

Of course, you'll have to decide for yourself what you want or don't want to put in there. There are some rules that seem pretty universal while others may be a question of preference.

As an example, I'm going through my rules and explain why I have them:
  • Always give credit! - you most likely want the stock user to say where they got the stock from, so this line tells them to do that. It does not tell them how exactly, if you want them to always link back to your front page or to the stock they used, you can add that. Personally, I find that the most important thing is that they do credit, preferably with a link and not just text, so people can easily follow and find more stock. I personally don't need them to point to the exact image; most stock users comment under the image they used anyway and this way I know which image/brush they used. You may feel different, if you do, tell them what you expect in a clear manner (example "please credit me using :dev username: or :icon username: without the spaces").
  • Always show me what you've created! - why do we provide stock? To see others use it! So it is only natural to ask for some kind of notification. Again, I am not picky how they do it, just that I get to see what was done, so I leave it up to the user to send me a note or leave a comment on my page or on the image or even rely on the mentions system (even though I think it's not always working).
  • Never redistribute my stock/brushes as it is (no repacks either!) - link people here instead - I want people to not just get a glimpse at one or two of my images through somewhere, I want them to come and browse my gallery for the latest stock and other resources. They may just find something else they like. Plus I don't want anyone else pretending they are the generous providers when all they did was search the internet. Credit where credit is due. Redistribution without consent, even without money involved, to me feels like stealing.
  • Never create stock from my stock (incl. brushes, premade backgrounds) - this one is one you either will be very strict about or not care about so much, I guess. The reason I don't allow stock from my stock is that I want people in the end to be able to find the original pieces and even if I say I want the end user to credit my stuff & the provider of the premade says so, too, most just don't do that and it kinda pisses me off. So this pretty much just comes down to me not wanting to get upset for not being credited where I think it would be only fair to do so. And since I don't feel like running after people to do that kind of thing, I decided to eliminate this possibillity from the start.
  • Never upload your manips of my stock to the photography section - you did not take the picture, I did! - Uploading something to the photography section to dA is pretty much saying "I took the picture", because that is what that gallery is for. So even if you put "stock credits" in the artist's comment, it doesn't change the fact that everyone will just assume the pic is yours and the stock was just some actions/brushes/textures on top.

All of the above are the normal rules for using my stock without commercial gain on dA as well as outside. I just have one rule in addition to the ones above for people who want to use my stock for commercial work, including book covers, prints, commissions, etc:
  • You can use my stock for commercial use, incl. prints, book/cd covers, commissions etc - but excluding stock premades for sale! - as long as you do more than minor adjustments (change colors, use filters, remove phone lines) - i.e. if it's your art you're selling, I'm perfectly fine - if you're trying to sell my photos, I'm not. - Basically, I don't want to see people sell my stuff without doing much to it. It's fine to practice retouching, colour changes, texture use and uploading it to the appropriate category, but for me it is not fine to make money off that kind of practice images. Also, this clause prohibits the use of my stock in retail products as is, such as mugs, posters and other on demand stuff you can see online often. You wouldn't believe what some people think is okay to do just because they "found it on the interwebs"...

The rules above are pretty much what I ask people to adhere to when using my stock and they work well for me. But then, I don't provide model stock or anything else of a sensitive nature.

Other points that you should consider to add or not add depending on the kind of stock you provide can be:

  • Where can people use your stock? - is it okay to use your stock outside of dA? Or do you want the result to be posted here exclusively - or maybe if it's posted on dA first, reposting elsewhere is just fine (as long as your other rules are followed)? If you restrict use to dA, you need to be aware of the fact that virtually everyone is also active elsewhere, be it on facebook, shadowness, their website, a forum, an rpg site,... and they want to cross-post & use what they have created elsewhere.
  • What can your stock be used for? - if you offer child model stock this may be especially touchy. You probably want to show your kids what people have created and on top you don't want to see them used in violent settings and the like. It is well within your rights to set those rules and imo you definitely should set them clearly and also demand any image in violation to be taken down. When uploading such sensitive stock be aware that there will be some idiot breaking your rules at some point and don't freak out when it happens, rather make sure you know in advance how to deal with that (and where to file DMCA complaints to get the "art" taken down).

Whatever you decree, be as specific as you can be. Saying something like "no inappropriate use" is not really helpful. after all, what is inappropriate to you could be normal for me. As an example: in Europe, naked breasts are not thought of as all that offensive, but in the USA, it warrants a mature flag for your art, while in some Arabian countries, women can't show much skin at all. And even if you yourself are American, that doesn't mean you automatically have anything against me using your art in artistic nude work, just like someone from Europe can choose not to want to have their stock included in artworks that need to be flagged mature on dA. So how am I going to decide which kind of inappropriate you mean? The only way to do this is if you tell your stock users straight up which kinds of art you do not want your stock to be in. Use examples and try to use words that mean the same thing to everyone (not easy, but as seen above, some are just way too vague to be used in rules).

  • Commercial Use - this can be a tough one to decide on. On one hand, you may want to give your stock users the possibillity to use their art for their livelyhood or to make a few bucks on the side (and give those great artists out there a reason to choose your stock and not pass it by for being too restricted). On the other hand, especially if you're the model, you may want to restrict commercial use so you don't find your face on an add on the city bus... A compromise can be to say that in principle, you allow commercial use, but if it's for anything aside from dA prints (let's face it, you don't get rich with dA prints unless you have a very famous name -- trust me, it needs to be very very famous, kuschelirmel for instance isn't), you only allow it after you've seen the work and are told what it will be used for (and you could reserve the right to ask for a fee if it's anything big).
    This means two things: for one, you get control over where your stock ends up and on the level of work you want to see people put in before they can sell it. Secondly, it means you have to log into your account and answer those request notes regularly (and I do not mean once a month - even once a week is not frequent enough!).
    This is of course just an example, and as usual, you'll have to think about what you want to allow or not yourself.

PirateLotus-Stock pointed out that you should never say "please" in your rules. Use words like "Always" and "Never" and "Must" instead of "Please". But why? Just above I told you to be polite, and now I take it back? No. BUT your rules are your rules. They are not a request, they are not negotiable. To quote Erin: If the rule violator wants to be mean about it, they can claim that "Please do this thing" is simply a request that doesn't need to be followed, and their offending work won't be removed.

Give yourself and your stock users time to adjust

You start out with a specific set of rules that you think is clear and sufficient, and yet you will get a lot of questions back showing you that in fact, not everything is 100% clear at all. You can (and should!) use this as feedback to tweak your wording and put more examples in.

You will also find people using your stock for things you did not think of and find you don't agree at all. Maybe it'll even cause you grief when you try to get the person to remove it ("you didn't say so in your rules blah blah" -- it is your right to have things removed if they make you uncomfortable, especially if you're the model; I guess with landscapes and the like it's easier to just say "shit happens" and move on, keeping it in mind for next time), but - if you want my advice - don't let it get to you. File it under "shit, didn't see that coming" and try to be polite when asking the stock user to remove your stock from the piece. Explain to them that you're new and you didn't think you needed to spell it out, but here we are and would you just swap the image? If nothing helps you can still log an official complaint and get it taken down. It is your right, even if you didn't say so. Just try to be civil about it, please.

No matter what happens, keep cool! Be polite! Don't let anyone drag you into a pissing match!

Always remember: You are providing stock because you like to see what people make with it, no single idiot (or even a bunch of them) should be able to change that.

>> now online: Part 04: Uploading Stock to dA

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Alienesse-Stock's avatar
I love this series! I'm still in the early stages of figuring out my stock account and I find these extremely helpful! Thank you :heart: