The Art Theft Discussion
42 min read
ProtectArt's avatar
By ProtectArt
3K Favourites
Art-Theft-Cover by ProtectArt

The DeviantArt community has always been deeply concerned about art theft.

We are committed to providing a completely open conversation on this topic. With your active and constructive participation we can become a leading voice on how we adapt to the challenges of being artists on the Web.

This Journal frames the continuing conversation and concern about art theft in general on the Internet and on DeviantArt. Each section links to a more specific and expanded treatment of the topic with additional links to useful materials and readings. Your comments to this Journal will be reviewed by experts and comment threads of general interest will be linked into the expanded topic sections.

Something to keep in mind at the outset: we are all guided by a code of decency, honesty and the expression of mutual respect. So, try to be tolerant and understanding even when reviewing these materials. Ethical behavior is a reward and a duty larger than laws and rules. Sometimes people interpret right and wrong differently even when both people have the exact same good and ethical intentions. Keep in mind that everything anyone does will be right if it’s also decent and honest even if some rule of law or contract was technically broken.

Artist Creditkozispoon

Art theft is stealing a painting from a wall.

  • Sometimes the term “theft” is accurate and it always attracts attention.

  • The word “theft” can be used casually, sometimes to describe copying any part of an artwork. The term “theft” also defines actual criminal conduct and is associated to a harsh moral judgment that may go too far.

  • Stealing an object is theft. Using artwork without permission is frequently called “theft” or “stealing.” But it might, instead, be copyright infringement or the violation of a contract that just feels like a theft.

  • More About Stealing

Artist Creditkozispoon

Not all copying is wrong.

  • Everything comes from somewhere. To some degree all people copy what other people do starting with talking, walking and eating. And, the same is true in writing, art and music. There is a limit to the originality of any artwork in any medium.

  • Basic standards of decent, respectful and honest behavior — and the law — will prevent copying when it will harm another person economically.

  • Copying can be permitted because it’s an accepted practice or sometimes because the laws directly permit it.  As an example, there is a rich history of using tracing for learning and some artists want their work to be copied.

  • Protection from copying is also time-based. Copying very old things is a way to preserve them and keep them relevant in the culture.

  • Entire fields of recognized fine art such as collage and “appropriation art” (like Andy Warhol) depend on copying and the law is favoring this development.

  • More About Taking

Artist Creditkozispoon

Copyright laws are powerful tools that protect art and artists and can prevent the misuse of artworks.

  • Copyright gives the author the exclusive right to copy, distribute, alter or base other works on his or her original work.  These rights are very broad.

  • Those who violate the rights are called “infringers” and can be made to pay money damages or can be made to stop their behavior.

  • Copyright laws also create a balance between the needs of artists to protect their work and the needs of the culture to express itself by protecting people who want to use copyrighted works for specific reasons such as criticism, comment, political speech and sometimes it protects the actual use of artwork in another artwork.

  • Copyright only protects the way an idea is expressed. It does not protect the idea. Anyone can use an idea, even if it’s original. Patent law or trade secret law could protect an idea, but these laws have strict requirements. They mostly apply to making useful things, and almost all artworks don’t qualify.

  • Every country has similar copyright laws but with many technical variations and differences. It can get complicated.

  • More About Copyright

Artist Creditkozispoon

Stock, even free stock, comes with a license. The license is a real contract.

  • On or off DeviantArt, the word “stock” means the artist or company intends other people to use a photograph or another form of artwork — and it always means that there are conditions to using it.

  • The conditions for stock use could be very open, such as “use it anyway you want, at anytime, for anything” or they could be very restricted specifying size, uses, changes, payment, credit or all of these.

  • Every time someone gives you permission to use a work it’s a contract and you need to be as clear as possible about how far that permission goes.

  • If you use stock and violate a condition, then you are breaking a contract and maybe also engaging in copyright infringement.

  • More About Permission

Artist Creditkozispoon

Fan art as love is different than fan art for sale.

  • Fan art usually takes characters, situations and sometimes directly copies artwork from all kinds of media including films, television, comics, books, or games. Typically, the original version is protected by copyright laws.

  • Most major media companies that control the properties most fan art celebrate are OK with fan art made not for profit. But, the companies will rarely admit this because it would compromise their need to protect the properties when they have to. This “fan art understanding” is entirely within the control of the owner of the property and they can withdraw it when they like.

  • When fan art is sold in multiple copies it tends to become a problem for these companies, which is a problem for artists as well. It can be a violation of both copyright law and trademark law.

  • Fan artists recognize that there are also ethical issues in reproducing and selling fan art.  It is considered different than selling an original drawing or painting that is fan based.

  • It is a good practice to label fan art if there is any risk that someone would confuse it as official, licensed art. It is never OK to label fan art as coming from the original owner or creator.

  • More About Fan Art

Artist Creditkozispoon

“Moral Rights” protect artists from others harming their artwork and protects artists from people taking false credit.

  • The right of “integrity” protects against harmful damage to artworks and permits the artist to step in to protect his or her art even after a work has been sold or licensed.

  • The right of “attribution” defends artists against people taking false credit for the artist’s work and against people who claim something was made by a particular artist when it wasn’t.

  • Not every country has these laws or they have very weak ones. The U.S. has very weak protections but they do apply to artworks published in limited editions of 200 copies or less. France and Germany have the strongest protections.

  • There should be an obvious ethical obligation not to claim false credit and not to damage another person’s artwork.

  • More About Moral Rights

Artist Creditkozispoon

Ways to protect your art on the Internet.

  • Putting your own work on the Internet is not giving it away. A blog or a website is a display or a distribution of your work. But, it isn’t a statement that other people can use the work or copy it.

  • A website or blog’s terms and conditions are a contract that defines what the site and what people who visit the site can do with your work — read it and decide.

  • Automatic copyright protection is available to all new works of art and in most countries you do not have to place a copyright notice on the artwork.

  • Placing lower resolution files for display on the Internet is an excellent technique to prevent many commercial uses of artwork.

  • Sites like DeviantArt offer watermark options on submission.

  • Post with a clear notice saying what people can or cannot do with your work to remind your viewers that they have only limited rights.

  • More About Protection

Artist Creditkozispoon

Resolve disputes with a conversation, if you can.

  • Misunderstandings about using artworks and taking credit for things that may go too far are very common. Use the messaging system or comments to give people the chance to do the right thing after they find out what the right thing should be.

  • If messaging and conversation doesn’t work, consider using a website reporting function, contacting the administrators, filing a formal copyright takedown request or contacting a lawyer for assistance.

  • More About Resolving Disputes

© 2015 - 2020 ProtectArt
anonymous's avatar
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Devian12345's avatar
Devian12345Student Writer

99% of his gallery is locked under payment. The paintings are from other users and he is charging money to display them. The titles are always "Original picture name by ****".

Here's an example. The problem is that he is charging points for something he didn't create.



The 7th user of One for All, Nana Shimura
shippaiman's avatar

I warned him in DM because he was using and reprinting the paintings of others without permission, but he did not reflect.

It's very sad.

LatexGiantess's avatar

Also, all of my content is original and I've spent probably hundreds of hours writing out stories for them.

shippaiman's avatar

The text may be original, but why do you need to include the paintings of others?

The reason doesn't work.

LatexGiantess's avatar
It's the context for what my caption revolves around. It makes the caption more exciting and brings it to life. Also most of the time I do small edits to the picture as well.
shippaiman's avatar

As far as I can see, the pictures is more important than your text.

shippaiman's avatar

It doesn't matter what you say about me, but if you use other people's art, get permission.

Don't use the art of others without permission.

LatexGiantess's avatar
I could see your case holding up if I just straight up reposted artwork but I do not do that. Most of the time it's half caption and half picture. And then I'll edit the picture as well. I've gotten female models permissions in the past as well as artists permissions to caption their work. I've just had nobody address my work as minimalist enough to the point where they considered it stealing. Also that caption is question is one of my shorter ones.
LatexGiantess's avatar

This isn't true and is a flat out lie. I contacted the artist on Pixiv and he told me that it was fine to caption his work as long as I sourced his Page in the comments. I don't 'steal' pictures without adding my own content to it. Please stop trying to get me in trouble as I don't even allow people to order prints of my captions.

shippaiman's avatar

It’s not a lie.

You only went to ask for permission after you reprinted it without permission and I pointed it out to you.

And that's for one painting.

You seem to be using other people's pictures as well, do you have permission for all of them?

Can you prove everything?

All in all, if you're uploading that with permission, then I lied.

But you've been doing it without asking for permission.

You're the liar.

LatexGiantess's avatar
I'm not lying. I reached out to the artist in question. DeviantArt won't let me upload a screenshot to the messaging system for some reason.
shippaiman's avatar

When did you get permission?

This is the first picture in question.

It is published: 4 days ago (Sep 3, 2020 (The date may be off depending on the place.))

Three days ago, when I pointed out to you in DM, you misunderstood that it was "fair use". (Sep 4, 2020)

Two days ago, you said you would contact the artist. (Sep 5, 2020)

If you do not have permission before 4 days ago, the fact that you have reprinted without permission will not change.


Do you get permission for other paintings?

If you do not have permission, even if you solve only this picture, you are reprinting without permission.

LatexGiantess's avatar
I should have never gave you the pleasure. I hope you have a good day, troll/bot account.
Pack-Leader-Sally's avatar
Pack-Leader-SallyHobbyist Digital Artist

Why the hell would you include the DMCA to make me give away my location? The last thing I need are people coming to my door related to that all day every day.

shippaiman's avatar

It only seems to me that the operation is making it hard to issue delete requests.

AleximusPrime's avatar
AleximusPrimeHobbyist General Artist

If someone reuploads my fanart on this site, can I still file a DMCA notice? I don't own the characters in the image, but it was all drawn completely by me and is still my work. These are the images in question btw:

My original art:

Commission:  Beauty and the Button

Stolen art:

the prince and princess of fillies-burg

As you can see, mine has the older date and the other person not only has a black margin and PNG checkered background, but they still even have the URL of my profile visible at the bottom. It's quite obvious they reposted, but I want to know if I can still file a DMCA. It used to be so easy to report these things on DA years ago, but now every time I try to file one and it gives you all the legalese at the bottom and says you could be terminated if you file a false report, I get cold feet and chicken out since I'm not sure if fanart qualifies.

If someone could help me with this, I would appreciate it greatly.

KaydenLindsey's avatar
  1. I didn't steal it i found it on Google 2. I made a story about the

AleximusPrime's avatar
AleximusPrimeHobbyist General Artist

Also, I see my original piece is in your favorites so the claim that you "found it on Google" makes far less sense now. Stop lying to cover anything up. You reposted it knowing it was already on here.

AleximusPrime's avatar
AleximusPrimeHobbyist General Artist

Just because you found it on Google does not mean you can reupload it here. Reposting it on another site where it cannot be found is understandable since it has my name at the bottom and people can find the original, but Deviant Art does not allow duplicate uploads here from a different person. You have no excuse to be uploading this art, now take it down.

KaydenLindsey's avatar

If you have a problem with someone you sort it out with that someone are if you have a problem some deviant you sort it out with that deviant

AleximusPrime's avatar
AleximusPrimeHobbyist General Artist

That's why I talked to you first and told you to delete it. The attitude you're giving me and using moot excuses like "I didn't steal it i found it on Google" or "Sometimes i like to do the stuff other deviants do you got a problem with that 😡" doesn't help either.

Flash-Flyer-Sakura's avatar
Flash-Flyer-SakuraHobbyist Digital Artist

Some of this guy's visual content is either stolen from Pixiv/other sites, or are anime screenshots. A few of them came from Pixiv, given by links members gave out in the past within comments.

I cannot say if the Literature submissions are his or taken from other people either on deviantArt, or elsewhere.

This one, he stole content from members (myself included) in other customs communities dating from 2011-2017 and posted them as his own, word for word [ergo, plagiarism]. This isn't the first time he's done this online, as he was banned on Fandom in several communities the same time period this was initially posted for plagiarizing content. While this was posted back then, it was only brought to my (and other people's) attention quite recently.

I filed a support ticket regarding this matter, and was told to file a DMCA if I believe copyright infringement has occurred. While I'm aware that I cannot claim on someone else's behalf unless they have legally given me permission to do so, parts of the content in question is my own (copied word for word).

Am I still allowed to file a claim for the things I do own in this document, or that is impermissible and may only do so if the entirety of the content is mine?

I've tried to ask the Support Desk twice regarding this issue, but haven't gotten a straight answer on it, and am rather frustrated with them.) I should also note that the other members whose content was plagiarized here were also notified / reported the submission in question. If it is permissible to file claims for certain parts of work that were plagiarized (and not all of them), I can at least pass on this message to them (if they are willing to).

Otherwise, the most I could probably do is just ask the member to remove the content, though given that said user has not responded to the two comments he did receive (one of them being an admin of YCW, where most of the content was taken from), I do not know if he will comply.


Anyway, I apologize if this is the wrong place for this (and for this being a text wall of sorts), but I suppose I just want an answer regarding how can one proceed in this particular situation where multiple people's works have been plagiarized, and one can only claim for their parts of it.

No one is taking monetary losses for this guy's plagiarism, but it's unacceptable to pass other people's ideas as his own.

Alitrick's avatar
AlitrickNew Deviant

He steal this artwork and put it as his own.

Sonia the Hedgehog
Anoney-Snufftan's avatar
Anoney-SnufftanNew Deviant

2,000+ picture gallery consists entirely of fetishized screencaps and otherwise stolen media from cartoons, etc.

anonymous's avatar
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