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The Art Theft Discussion

Tue Jul 7, 2015, 3:39 PM
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

Design: marioluevanos
Illustration: kozispoon
Writers: Joshua Wattles, Rom Bar-Nissim
Add a Comment:
PatchWorksRozen Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hello, I would like to report an art thief who is falsely reporting people on hate speech in his comments when they are letting others know the majority of their work is either traced or out right stolen. The user in question is called Zik Zik, as well they has made a few hate stamps towards the artists they had stole from, I hope the mods on DA would look into this one soon.
AnimeAnnemarie Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2019
Hello, I recently found a profile that uploads images from SCPs (articles written by various authors on this website and puts the actual text of the article partially or entirely in the description. This user adds no other content, nor does he indicate that the work is not his own, or that the original can be found and appreciated on its own page. His content is not transformative, as he merely copy-pastes the article and uploads its original image in its entirety. He did this to an SCP I wrote, and also provided incorrect information about the source of the image I had used in his comments. As I wished to resolve it peacefully, I left a comment stating my desire to be credited or at least acknowledged, corrected the misinformation mentioned, and expressed my disapproval of the fact that he pretty much just steals SCPs and uploads them on here. I never got a reply back, but when I went back to check it seemed as if he had deleted his particular post featuring my SCP, left everything else up, and blocked me without any further reply. This to me proves that he has malicious intent or at least knows what he does is wrong, and simply tried to cover up his tracks. Because I am blocked, I can no longer see his profile, nor can I view his other posts or leave comments. This leaves me unable to resolve this in any way; I can't even access his profile to report him. I can view it when I log out, but then I no longer have a 'report' option. The profile is this one:… and an example of a stolen SCP is MalO ver1.0.0, for which you can see he just copied the contents from this page without making any changes. You'll see that his entire gallery consists only of this kind of theft. Please get back to me about actions taken, if any, or where else I should take this. I will attempt to file a customer service complaint as well, but I do not know if this will help.
goPandaawake Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This user keeps stealing a few artist’s stuff, everything in the gallery is stolen, he even write who’s art he has taken, and write they should die.
Kurisutofaa-Art Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist… This user is stealing art and posting them like they are his own.  I know for a fact one of them is a Patreon/Gumroad exclusive drawn by Dandonfuga!
W-64 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
This user has stolen a pic from a FurAffinity user, colored and posted it here.

The actual original sketch is from here:…
I contacted the original owner over on FurAffinity and it turned out this was altered and posted without his permission. Go figure.
Now, he does not have an deviantArt account, so he cannot report this himself, which this site pretty much demands.
There MUST be a way to take this down! Not every artist has an account here!
MrStrangeInc Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2019
Natashathefoxx is copying and tracing several artworks, claiming them as hers.
Original: ''Badass But Sweet'' |Fixed| by Xx-Lorena-xX  Copied: my oc bunzz by Natashathefoxx

Please take some time to do something about this, as she is also harassing people who point out that this is clearly not okay with a puppet account.
CherushiMetsumari Featured By Owner Feb 27, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have a question about F2U (Meaning Free To Use).

I make pixel work very often on this site, and I give people open permission to use my pixel art on things like their deviantART profiles, comments, descriptions and journals. As long as it's used on dA, I don't mind, as long as they use the Thumb Code.

Recently, I've not had a problem about this, but someone brought up that my artwork was being used on this site without permission.

The claim is that another person took mine, and other artworks, Thumb Codes to link back to the original, and use it for coding a profile to be used on deviantART.
They have been selling the coded work, not the artwork, but because the artwork is being used, the person who brought this up feels like they're "selling" our artwork along with their programming work.

I personally don't see it this way, but they do.

Are there any rules against using thumbcodes in Programing Codes, if you sell the Program Code with the thumbnail in it?

Thank you in advance to your response!
AviianStudios Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm not the journal poster, but as long as the original artist confirms using a their F2U pixels in commissioned work is oke, then it is not theft.
spiderrat4444 Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2019

Has been stealing from various Korean and Japanese artist. 
Many artist are not from English speaking communities and it is hard to warn the original artists due to barriers of language












Original twitter deleted but this links to it





There is even more stolen

EatenRibs Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2019   General Artist
Willow-the-Wispz Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, someone's stealing my art. I don’t want to fill out a DMCA because my parents and I aren’t comfortable with all of the information it needs. Is there something I can do about this person?Waaaah! 
dragonfarts476 Featured By Owner Mar 5, 2019
no. If you can't file a dmca ask the person politely to stop or take the work down, if they refuse then youre just going to have to deal with it since there isnt anything you can do about it unless youre willing to file a DMCA
iRPs Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2019
Hey, this person keeps making new accounts to both steal this person's art and to harass them to take their own original works down.

Their recent account: strawberrydrawsart
Their old account: @strawberryocs

Their stolen work -> The originals

yeet by strawberrydrawsart -> Hmph by Willow-the-Wispz
(You can see the sharp white lines where they coloured over the original artist's watermark and just typed their name over it.)

aimee ref (adoptable) by strawberrydrawsart -> Warpa MYO by Willow-the-Wispz
(All they did was type their name on it, and they're trying to sell it.)

Milly (adoptable) -> Mittens Icon
(Just straight up trying to sell another artist's character.)

(You can even see where they coloured over the original artist's watermark.)

Them asking the original artist to take down their work, claiming it's theirs. 443b9320-1f9a-456c-887c-54bbe5da2f9d

Also them harassing the same artist. Cf642207-2424-4f60-8a8e-361b004b1752 by Willow-the-Wispz

They also asked this artist to remove their work, too.…

Please, staff, DO something about this person. IP block them or something. They keep making new accounts, and it needs to stop.. I like these artists, and it's making them super upset. They're sick of it. I can't report the art due to the way reporting works, as I'm not the original artist, and it's disappointing to see..
RedSpaceMan1212 Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
strawberrydrawsart Keeps stealing art from my friends and someone special to me! can we get any help on that!?
TheElectrifyingHyuzu Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2019  New Deviant
Demented--cedar copied from Mercenarysheeda for revenge : The original and clone:……

The proof :…

This should had been taken care of. 
ThomasKong Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2019  Student Digital Artist
kaylor2013 has known as a art theft who stealing cartoon characters along with that from DLEDeviant.

Note that account is 5 years old.
KouriiRaiko Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2019…

Art thief. Has stolen multiple submissions directly out of my gallery, and is claiming them as his own.

Note that my account is 7 years old, and submissions of the featured character go back for years. This thief's account is brand new.
AL-animations Featured By Owner Edited Feb 14, 2019  Student Digital Artist
AnonymousPerson91 has been posting art work with out permission by anyone who has art up there. the art posted on that account has been posted to another app, discord, and was not even posted here. they swear up and down that they are they have was requested/commissioned when it clearly wasn't, one of them being my work in progress for something completely different and wasn't even for a request
Thinking-Silence Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2019
His whole gallery is edits of celebrity pictures, pretty sure he has no permissions.

LacrimareObscura Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist

His WHOLE gallery is stolen art from different artists without any credits.
I´m shocked this account is 2 years old and wasn´t banned yet!

He randomly puts images he found on the internet and gives a damn to their original creators.
Everyone can download it, so it´s not enough he has stolen it, but also help others to do so.
This is poisonous!

If we push the report button and select it violates the intellectual property rights of someone else - does the staff receive them or does it only show the advices what to do?
Just asking, cause..Seriously - if we don´t know the original artist, we cannot tell them and those thieves can continue. >.<
Flagged as Spam
707Fangirl Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
Says the person who steals my art.
Seiya-Meteorite Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2019  Hobbyist Filmographer…

This user is stealing fanart along with official screenshots without permission and just using MS Paint to turn them into Mario characters. For example:

Original: Proud Heart Cat by RyanWolfSEAL
Stolen: Proud Heart Cat as Ana by Sarah-Yousif

They even left the original artist's name and didn't even credit him.
TheLittleGrimmy Featured By Owner Edited Jan 30, 2019  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
Are screenshots of TV shows and movies a copyright violation?
Can you be anymore stupid??!! YES!!!
radisapratama Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2019
Kinda late but mind if you care my question:
Does using someone else's base/ pose ref by just direct trace but not referencing considered stealing? my latest picture shows the pose reference that I am exactly traced it.
ElikaVilar Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2019  Student Digital Artist
This person… is stealing drawnings and comissions from other artists, and also insulting people that acuse her for art thief. Here are some examples:

Original: Demon
Stolen: s t a re

Original: come through like the sweetener you are
Stolen: stwwet

Original: god is a woman
Stolen: dis mine too
Laegume-Kiwi Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist… This person is impersonating… from Instagram, stole their username, and is now stealing art from the real Jennillustrations, and selling that stolen work here, for DA points. (I've also notified Jennillustrations on Instagram.)
KytoonsComics Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
I have no idea how to report anyone for stealing artwork, they aren't stealing mine, they're stealing many friends' art concerning Bendy and Alice
they even re-draw Alice inappropriately in some images, its very crude
I'm just going to put their page here,…

they steal art from like three of my friends, and its very obvious because they're all in different styles and look like they were drawn over in mspaint
still don't know how to report them though, guess i'm just clueless, lol
NamyGaga Featured By Owner Edited Jan 11, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hey, I have a problem/doubt. There is a group of people who started threatening me that they will eliminate my drawings for "be tracing" of screenshots, and they are telling me that they are more than willing to make me delete all my art similar to the one they judge.

As I understand, this type of art (just some examples that they accuse)  This is my moment of glory... by NamyGaga   Healthy Nuka 1 by NamyGaga   I'll be the chosen one! by NamyGaga   Sheep N' Wolves GB_Oh Greyzi, you're unique by NamyGaga Sheep N' Wolves GB_Just let me explain by NamyGaga  are totally permitted... I'm just redesigning or changing screenshots of movies/series, drawing the characters from cero.
After all, I'm not stealing, I'm making it clear that they are redraws or redesigns.

I want you to solve this... this group of people seems to be willing to eliminate my art and maybe my account... I am an honest artist and I work hard to make my art, it seems unfair that a group of people are reporting my art without meaning... I don't want to have problems.
KaitlynnNicole Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, I'm surprised Namy! I didn't expect this. Your art is absolutely my favorite and amazing! I'm sorry this is happening!  
NamyGaga Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
tell that to the group of rats who say that my art is just screenshots tracings :'(
FESH456 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2019  Student Traditional Artist… This gallery has images stolen from an user named @/haleigh426
ZorroFammieVN Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Stolen:  Cupcake Pie Reference Sheet by CupcakePie20
Original:  Cupcake_Pie New REF SHEET by CupcakeEdits20
The person who stole my friend's artwork also had an old account, which is deactivated but as far as I know, they had told my friend to die. Which is horrible.
ENERHEL Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2018
Original:  Oka Ruto Chibi by Any-Ortiz  Stolen:  Practicing a chibi style by KittyCute154

Original:  Oka-ruto by GineAPS  Stolen:  Old art by KittyCute154
princess-Luna64 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2018
Someone has stolen characters from Hasbro and another person on deviantart.
This is the 'artwork'. Mane 6 watch Jungle Heart's Tarzan Yell by Athooor33

The character in the tree belongs to OptimusV42
OptimusV42 Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for bringing this up, my friend.

That user deserves to be banned.
princess-Luna64 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2018
You're welcome.
CALvin-DA Featured By Owner Dec 14, 2018
You sure are a big hypocrite deviantART.
Since you were the people who not only have stolen your "new" logo idea but also the "new" site layout as well
The 'New' Logo by Umbreeunix    
kittyocean Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
I wished the Dutch Artist Alley community would read this - especially 'the Fan Art for sale is technically wrong'-part. Dutch Artist Alley could probably be renamed FanArt Alley and no one would notice the difference. The artists in the AA are AMAZING, I just wished they would stop selling stuff they don't own AND claim it does no harm 'because those companies are big/ everyone else is doing it'.

Most AA-artist left DeviantArt and/or say Dutch Copyright Law is different, while it's not. I'll try to subtlely (sp?) link them to this page - maybe they'll take 'you' seriously. They keep on saying I am totally overreacting.
Chisana-Yagi Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
This person… is pretending to be @/The-Midnight-Knight (same username and icon) and stealing @/Darkness-Beauty's drawings, from what I saw it's not their first account.
Here is some examples :

Original (from @/Darkness-Beauty) :
Stella love you
And the stolen one : 

Original (still from @/Darkness-Beauty) :
Night belong to us
Stolen :
Hasele Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2018  Student Digital Artist
I will protect my art
Hidden by Commenter
kittie-cafe Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2018
u ok lmao it's just a meme
Add a Comment:

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