Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login
Every day, many people on deviantArt find themselves dealing with art thieves off-site (outside deviantArt). There are many ways to approach this issue, but this article is about how I went about it. I'm only writing this in an attempt to be helpful to others going through the same thing, or give ideas to those going through it who don't know where to start or what to do. Becoming victim to an art ripper isn't a hopeless, helpless situation. Though I was inexperienced with the issue at the time and justifiably angered, I was able to prevail through a mixture of help from other kind deviants, a professional manner/attitude and resources found on the web.


My particular case began one day about a week after my first Daily Deviation was given to me by Aeires. Up until that time I was a relatively unknown artist, and was minimally protecting my work with an easily removed watermark. I didn't really think my work was worth stealing, and honestly hadn't thought about what would happen if it was. But that day, in as crazy a way possible, my views on the matter changed drastically.

Happily going about my regularly scheduled dA day, Platinus came into Apophysis chat and informed me that one of my images was on Reno 911, a clip from a tv show in which the fictional police team got a "deputy" by finding people on myspace.com. The image was visible on the myspace user's background that the show was featuring. Figuring it for a bizarre but isolated incident, I asked him to contact the myspace user and ask them to take my art off their background, because I didn't have a myspace account and couldn't contact the user myself. I also sent a quick note to the myspace asking for their help.

Other deviants then informed me of a couple of things I didn't know, namely that a company called Pyzam.com made backgrounds for myspace.com and thats where the myspace user got my art, and that I could use Whois.net to find out Pyzam's important site info so that I could get my art taken down.

By this time, I was pretty worked up emotionally, but I didn't want to flounder around ignorantly and I also knew that I had the moral high ground and would only be able to keep that if I acted professionally. So even though I was angry and hurt, I decided to calmly do research about my options, copyrights, and available recourse and also to document what was going on in my journal. I used my journal to ask for input from others, and to update my friends on what was going on. I wrote to Pyzam.com and their upper companies, GoDaddy.net, DomainsByProxy and thePlanet.com.

The first good thing to happen was the original myspace user removed her background. Several people had contacted her, including fanficbug, who wrote the lady a letter appealing to her kinder nature and her position as a police officer to uphold the law.

The next thing to happen was a prompt response from a director at Pyzam.com, Jason Moore. His letter can be seen in my journal here: dragonwinter.deviantart.com/jo… It was a great disappointment to me, and further enraged me, but I did my best to word my reply in a way that conveyed my strong feelings without becoming unprofessional. I think I did okay but sometimes came across as ranting. My reply is also in that journal.

One thing that did come out of Jason's reply was an opportunity for me to peruse dA's user agreement and policies. He had taken direct quotes from the user agreement out of context and attempted to justify harvesting art from dA and using it in this manner. I was justifiably concerned, but using dA's FAQ and answers from the help desk, I was able to put these concerns at rest. This part of the process I will put here in the article, even though it's also in my journal:

    16. Copyright in Your Content deviantART does not claim ownership rights in Your Content. For the sole purpose of enabling us to make your Content available through the Service, you grant to deviantART a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, re-format, store, prepare derivative works based on, and publicly display and perform Your Content. Please note that when you upload Content, you allow third parties to copy, distribute and display your Content.


Jason Moore used this out of context to say "Actually, the entire reason we use deviantart is for that purpose. Everything put up on deviantart is put up to be reproduced. I'm sorry if you didn't know that."  My FAQ research, however, concluded thus:

    "I just wanted you guys to know that I scoured the dA FAQ for a response to the audacious claim made by Jason Moore of Pyzam.com that dA actually is made for rippers to come and take our work. The devil quoted scripture and of course did so out of context and got it grievously incorrect. Here is clarification for anyone who is now worried about dA--don't be! Ownership and Copyrights The Submission Agreement explicitly states that you, as the original artist, retain any and all rights appropriate to your artwork at all times. These rights include, but are not limited to, the full and exclusive copyrights to your original artwork. By agreeing to the Submission Agreement what you are really doing is granting deviantART the basic permissions we need in order to display, showcase, and make your artwork available to viewers using the various on-site systems and tools. At no time do you lose ownership or any of the exclusive copyrights granted to you by law on any deviation or scrapbook submission which you make to deviantART DeviantART will not use your work for any project without first consulting you and obtaining your consent. FAQ #226: Does DeviantArt own my art?


Basically, dA includes this for purposes of creating thumbnails and for in-site advertising. At no time and in no place in the policy does it state that dA is here for people to reproduce or use our art.

Jason said they would no longer use further artwork of mine, but stated that: "I hope you understand that the layouts we have already used are being hosted for over 50,000 people. For us to take down those layouts would do more harm than good..." This was completely unsatisfactory to me.

So next I used certified mail (USPS) which creates proof of mailing, to contact GoDaddy.com and DomainsByProxy.com and sent them my concerns as well. The replies I received from these companies was rather unsatisfactory, as they claimed no jurisdiction over Pyzam even though they were listed as their Domain/Server companies.

At this time, I also gave Pyzam the ultimatum that if they didn't remove my work currently stolen work, I would inform GoogleAdSense of their activities, and also other companies whose registered trademarks they were ripping, including Gucci, Budweiser and Abercrombie and Fitch. Apparently this did the trick, because within hours of that communication Pyzam removed my layouts.


What I learned from my experience is that being nice doesn't always get the results you're looking for, but persistence does. And I also learned that regardless of how great or how humble your art is, if it's available online there is a chance it will be stolen. I also realized about myself that even though I still wasn't sure my art was spectacular, I loved it and wanted to defend it.  I learned that professionalism is always the way to go, because if anything actually ended up in a court of law, my behavior would be almost certainly held up to scrutiny, and found to be without reproach.

Lastly, I learned that dA is a community of individuals that is willing to help individuals. Many deviants pointed me in the direction of helpful articles online, and more offered support and kind (or vengeful on my behalf) words. Obviously the dA staff takes care of on-site art thieves, but because of legal ramifications and time/staffing issues, they cannot take on the off-site rippers. And they shouldn't have to. We can protect our own work, try and prevent thieving, and work to take down art rippers after the fact. We can stand together as deviants against art thieves, by supporting each other, pooling knowledge, forming clubs against art thieves, researching legal methods, and finding rips off-site. It isn't hopeless, and while we cannot expect ripping to never happen, we can do something about it when it does.

The end result with Pyzam.com was that they changed their policies regarding how they get their art for layouts, and tightened up their privacy policies and are now in compliance with the DMCA.

Some things to remember:

Regardless of the quality of your art, if it is online, there will always be the possibility of it being stolen.

Having your art stolen is not a form of flattery and you should not be forced to view it as such. Theft is theft and you never have to feel okay about it if your art is stolen.

dA staff takes care of dA rippers, but we as individuals and a community need to take care of the off-site rippers.

You are not alone and helpless. Your art is copyrighted the moment you make it, regardless of medium. If you do not register your copyright, but your art is online, you fall under the jurisdiction of the DMCA, or the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA If you do register your copyright, you may prosecute legally in a court of law. Either way, you have protections.

You do not have to be a US resident to register your copyright in the US. There are many countries with an agreement with the US allowing their residents to legally register copyrights in the US.

Although watermarking in a prominent manner is ugly and people don't like it, it is ultimately up to you how you protect your work. Don't let other's opinions dictate how you go about it. If you want a big old watermark across the middle, then do it! dA provides one or you can make your own. If you don't want an obtrusive one, at least consider using a covert one. Personally, I use bump mapping and put it in a place that will hopefully be overlooked; if the theif doesn't see it, but I can prove it's there, so much the better. There are many effective ways to do it, so pick something that works for you.

If you are victim of a rip, keep good documentation and records.

To summarize:

One effective way to react to an art rip is to identify the source of the rip and contact the offending party directly. Use Whois.net to discover the website's hosters/servers, look for links/tabs marked "legal" or "policy" to find out how those websites want you to contact them and what their policies on illegal content are. Remember to get your mail certified or insured if you have to use paper mail, so that you can prove you sent it even if it gets lost in the postal service. Maintain a professional manner and keep records of your correspondence.

The thieves may not be selling your work, but if your work is drawing customers or viewers to their site, they could be still making money off you through ad clicks. Get the ripper in the wallet by contacting their ad company. Google especially has a no-tolerance policy on content rippers and will be willing to help out.

Lastly, fortify the protection on your work and know ahead of time your rights regarding your work.

I hope this information has been helpful to you. If you know of other effective ways to deal with art rippers, feel free to give that information to groups like RippedArtTaskForce  so they can spread the education to other deviants. Also, please consider supporting your fellow artists when you can against these off-site rippers. They are many and they are rampant, but we can prevail if we stick together and work calmly and professionally.

Finally, remember that much of this is my opinion and is just the way I handled it; I am not claiming it is the best or only way to deal. I also must disclaim that nothing in this article is guaranteed to work a second time; try not to get mad at me if my methods end up being ineffective for you. ;) This article is meant for informational purposes only.

Useful Links

FAQ #226: Does DeviantArt own my art?

Wikipedia's Explanation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act

Whois.net

A very useful watermark/bump-mapping tutorial

The Ultimate Tutorial 2.0 A very helpful article on what is and isn't art theft by snapesgirl34

What to do when someone steals your content by Lorell Van Fossen, a helpful blog article.

Official US Copyright Office Website
Add a Comment:
 
:iconeruanna17:
Eruanna17 Featured By Owner May 1, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very, very much for sharing all this with us. I hope that you didn't have another unpleasant experience like that :)
Reply
:iconannabeth5110:
Annabeth5110 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2016  Professional Writer
You're not the only one ith burglar problems, but the one I've been through was merely altruistic; my art was not worth taking. If you ever heard of the marsy1999 case, you know who I'm talking about.
Reply
:iconreapercaster:
Reapercaster Featured By Owner May 26, 2013
This is a very informative article. Thank you for taking the time to write it ^^. Also, this may not be the best place to ask, but how exactly do you copyright your work when you upload it on da or anywhere else?
Reply
:iconcamen-tobashi:
Camen-Tobashi Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2012
What can you do about a kiriban thief that used a bot to jump up the pageviews and steal the kiriban prize?
Reply
:icondevlant-hq:
DEVlANT-HQ Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2011
Thank you for making Deviantart a better place.
Reply
:iconpiggyblackwhite:
PiggyBlackWhite Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2011  Student General Artist
Um one question...what are some ways to prevent your works from being copied? I'm not that popular but I guess it is better to protect your artworks first..
Reply
:iconmeena-tsukino344:
Meena-Tsukino344 Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2011
one of the ways they listed is to use watermarks. How you use them is up to you and they have a few tips about it.
to quote:
"Although watermarking in a prominent manner is ugly and people don't like it, it is ultimately up to you how you protect your work. Don't let other's opinions dictate how you go about it. If you want a big old watermark across the middle, then do it! dA provides one or you can make your own. If you don't want an obtrusive one, at least consider using a covert one. Personally, I use bump mapping and put it in a place that will hopefully be overlooked; if the theif doesn't see it, but I can prove it's there, so much the better. There are many effective ways to do it, so pick something that works for you."

I advise watermarking in completely obtrusive ways. I mean if the watermark is on the face and torso of your character, even in a small way, your art is less likely to be stolen, but still likely to be appreciated.
Reply
:iconpiggyblackwhite:
PiggyBlackWhite Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2011  Student General Artist
Oh I think than I should include a watermark after when I actually AM a good artist, or else it seems like I am an attention hogger and someone who is so proud of herself.

But thanks for the advise! xDDD
Reply
:iconcoldfusionwaffles:
ColdFusionWaffles Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2011
ran into the same issue right now, you won't believe the zanny ways he's trying to discredit my claim.... right now waiting for Deviant art to actually do something....

but your post gives me hope with the evidence I have something will get done.
Reply
:iconorinocou:
orinocou Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for sharing this. It is good to know that we as artists are not alone if something like this should happen.
Reply
:iconpstmadamx:
PstMadamX Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2010
I am sorry about your experience however, thank you for sharing it. I have had issues with this myself. And you have some great suggestions! <3
Reply
:iconprincesspomeranian:
PrincessPomeranian Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2010
How do you get your watermarks off to the side or such? I've tried placing watermarks on my pictures before and it's been unsuccessful. I just don't know what I'm doing.
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
[link] I use this tutorial technique every time. It must be something pretty similar in other graphic programs. :)
Reply
:iconprincesspomeranian:
PrincessPomeranian Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2010
(: thank you!
Reply
:iconemerald-fern:
Emerald-Fern Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
A really helpful article. everything was really easy to understand. I just hope I wont need it!!
Reply
:iconicevenase:
IcevenAse Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2010  Professional General Artist
it's possible to translate in french ? :)
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Je ne parle pas Francais. Sorry. But you are welcome to get someone else to translate it.
Reply
:iconthecouldhavebeenking:
thecouldhavebeenKing Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you, I'm a bit of a new artist, but i did find some people who took one of my drawings and redrew it without my consent. I used the FAQ to have them take it down from their site. This was a great help.
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so glad, I hope this continues to be helpful.
Reply
:iconnoctuart:
Noctuart Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is very nice!! A great help to all on DA!!! XD
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
:aww:
Reply
:iconpuccanoodles2009:
PuccaNoodles2009 Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2010
Love it, thank you so much for this you have really helped me understand how to handle this when it happens :]
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so glad, I wanted this to help others.
Reply
:iconbearbearcreative:
BearBearCreative Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2010
chock full of wisdom and written with much composure even after having been wronged. It's artists like you that are a great example of character, work ethic, and professionalism for the upcoming generation.
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey, thanks for the encouraging words. I'm glad the article is still helping people.
Reply
:iconstar-shine335:
star-shine335 Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2010  Student General Artist
that is really helpful and it is really good
Reply
:iconvox-hitomi:
Vox-Hitomi Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
very helpful :)
Reply
:icon54viruses:
54viruses Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2010
An excellent way to both inform and encourage. Thanks for taking the time to type up and post this. :)
Reply
:iconnataliekelsey:
NatalieKelsey Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad people are still getting use out of this. :nod:
Reply
:iconsega-princess:
SEGA-Princess Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2010
This is a very excellent article.

I have once experienced art theft, and I was very enraged with it, but I took it the mature way and told the person to take the art down and they did.

Thank you for this lovely piece of literature. :)
Reply
:iconpriixv:
PriixV Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2010
love it(: excellent^^
Reply
:iconheartlessinu:
HeartlessInu Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a very informative and well-written article. I'm glad you were able to turn that dreadful experience into a well-learned lesson for everyone. I actually had a friend who I know in person and on here who had her art stolen and thus left DA. This is why I've started putting a little signature in my art.
Reply
:iconjesse07:
Jesse07 Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2009  Hobbyist
Cool! :) Thanks for the info. it helped me a lot and understand more about my rights here in DA. People who aren't artists or desperate people who just have no respect for art except for the money it produces doesn't understand how we feel if oour artworks are stolen. They don't understand that if we post something that we love ... we put a part of ourselves in our artworks ... one way or another it represents a part of us that's why it's so personal to any artist.

But hey ... keep on posting :) I love your gallery :)
Reply
:iconvarsaigen:
varsaigen Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2009
nice! You took on the Big Bad Wolf :P Its funny how they think 1 'tiny obstacle' person can't stand in their way :P And then they are whipped around and panic :P You have improved the world :3 Congratulations! :D
Reply
:iconmadame-finitevus1890:
:thumbsup:
Very informative article. I felt for you the whole time. And I hope I don't have to go through that. Although do you know if the copyright policy is any different if you draw fan art? The character drawn is copyrighted to begin with; is fan art of the character copyrighted as well? Sorry if that was confusing... ^^;
Reply
:iconsoul-music:
Soul-Music Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2009
That's really educational and informative. Now i'm more aware of what can I do to prevent such and/or how I would deal with it...
Reply
:icondoki-sama:
doki-sama Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2009
wow, I don't know how I'd handle if my art was stolen, I'd probly go baby to my dad (who knows almost all the laws and is genuis and could have been a lawyer lol) and have him help me Dx
Reply
:icontoaveka:
ToaVeka Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2009
Personally, I'd be confused to heck if any of my art was stolen, except a couple of my pictures, which are watermarked by DA.

Good job with getting your art back!
Reply
:iconmarcoamane:
MarcoAmane Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2009   Writer
Well Done! :D

I dont think I will have this problem though... nobody would want to steal my art! very helpful anyway!
Reply
:iconthewolvesrevenge:
TheWolvesRevenge Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2009
ok now i know what can happen and what to do if i end up in this problem thanks!
Reply
:iconshade123:
Shade123 Featured By Owner May 3, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful article. I use Creative Commons Licenses, the watermark, and to take precautions: I write my username on my works.it's good to protect your art, cuz we don't post it just to have it stolen.
Reply
:iconrunekatashima:
RuneKatashima Featured By Owner May 3, 2009
And I can't fave this because...? D:
Reply
:iconsaemi:
Saemi Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2009
Thank you for sharing your experience. I've never had my art stolen before, but I worry about the creative writing I post online for critiquing all the time. I hope this never happens to you again, although you can never be too careful when you deal with thieves online
Reply
:iconmeepeh:
Meepeh Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2009
This Jason guy sounds ridiculous. dA is for people to steal your art? What? Stupid man.
Glad everything was sorted out for you. If my art is ever stolen (which I doubt it will be xD) I'll follow the same tactics as you.
Reply
:iconskymanmoon:
SkymanMoon Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
wow
Reply
:icondark7hero:
Dark7Hero Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2008
Good article, my art was never stolen but if it was i would be pretty much pissed =/
Reply
:icon1389ad:
1389AD Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2008   Digital Artist
If your stuff is good enough that people are ripping it off and then showing it on television, is there any possibility of getting people to pay for the use of your art, rather than simply requiring them to take it down?
Reply
:iconkite-amethyst:
Kite-Amethyst Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2008  Student General Artist
wow this is helpful i'll use it if i ever deal with a theif^^
Reply
:iconballincolon:
ballincolon Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2008
very nice! im going to start putting up my art soon, but its a good thing i read this!
Reply
:icondenmina:
DenminA Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2008
Thanks for writing it, now we know what to do :)
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconnataliekelsey: More from NatalieKelsey


Featured in Collections

Nouvelles Du Jour by HaveTales-WillTell

Journals, raffles and comm prices by bokunoai

Journals by Spudfuzz


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
August 3, 2007
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
5,426 (2 today)
Favourites
1,250 (who?)
Comments
296