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Deviation Actions

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7 by ProtectArt

Just because your work appears on the Internet does not mean you have given it away. Access should not be confused with ownership. You still hold the rights and can exercise control over your work. The realities of the Internet may make it seem like a futile task. Not true.

There are a number of measures you can use to protect your rights in the digital space. These options range from the simple to the sophisticated. Some cost money, but a great deal are free.  It is helpful, when you are weighing the various options and the effort you plan to put in, to try and answer this question first: “Why do I need to protect this image?”

The following is a list of steps you can take to protect your work online. The best approach is to use as many as possible; using one in isolation may not be effective.

  • Copyright.

    Copyright protection is automatic in almost every country of the world. It protects you while you sleep but you have to be active when you wake up to someone using your work without permission. In the U.S. you can demand that the infringing work be removed. (You can read about this in the DeviantArt Copyright Policy.) Other countries have similar laws and other websites have similar “takedown” tools made available to copyright owners. While not a requirement and these days only an issue for works distributed in the United States, you should consider placing a copyright notice either directly on the image or near the image. A correct notice contains © (or the word “Copyright”), the author’s name and the year of creation.

  • Watermarks.

    A watermark is a very visual way to indicate that you are protecting the work from reproduction or use as stock. They can be visible or invisible. Sometimes, watermarks can contain “metadata.” Metadata is information embedded in the image. It is used to help identify and track the image through the Internet. Tampering with a watermark or other digital rights management software is illegal in the U.S. and other countries. DeviantArt provides the option of adding a watermark when you submit although the DA watermark does not include metadata.

  • Upload A Lower-resolution File.

    Uploading a lower-resolution file will prevent commercial uses of the work in stock or in reproductions. At the same time, the web doesn’t require high-resolution files for a good display. The size of the files you use are a technical consideration. A good camera photo might be 4000 pixels in the longest length while web display would only need 1020 pixels for a great looking result.

    Artist CreditBreatheNaked
  • Sign It.

    Many artists use digital signatures placed on their works in a way that is prominent but that doesn’t interfere with the artwork itself. The signature is more than just claiming credit. It makes it clear to others where the work originates and makes a copyist think twice if they plan to take credit for themselves. Although you can place a signature in the margin below the image, the preferred approach, from the point of view of deterring people from using the work as their own, is to place the signature inside the work.

  • Shout It Out.

    If you can, post a comment under your work that explicitly reminds others that the work is protected by copyright. You can also tell them about other restrictions on use. The point is to say it. Don’t assume that everyone knows they need to ask permission. There are some great badges, symbols and pre-baked messages for this:

  • Create A License.

    Since you are the owner, you can place restrictions on use. You can also state in a positive way that some uses are OK and others are not. A well-known example is the Creative Commons license. It allows others to use the work for non-commercial purposes, as long as you get credit. You can place further restrictions, like requiring notification if the work is used or saying your work cannot be used in a certain way or for certain artwork.  And you can give advance permissions such as reproduction for classroom use but not for commercial uses.

  • Sharing.

    Almost all websites with images now include “share” buttons so that the image can be placed in other social networks such as Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit and others. Some websites, like DeviantArt, let you remove share buttons. But sharing is the Internet. Any image can be right-clicked or screen captured. It is the way these digital tools have been designed and they are now a fact of how we communicate.

  • Read The Terms of Service.

    Always read the terms of service for any website where you upload images. You may be surprised to discover that the website may claim the right to license your work to other people.

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Examples From DeviantArt

Custom Watermark

Artist Signatures

Copyright Notice On The Image

Terms As Part Of The Image

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