The Art Theft Discussion
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By ProtectArt   |   
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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

anonymous's avatar
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Justarandomguy64's avatar
Justarandomguy64New Deviant
[Reupload] Can I stop drawing Sonic characters now

New thief.. Stole my art from a different alternate account.

This is the art I worked on for them right after they stole my work.

SONICINSIDEOUTHobbyist Traditional Artist

Dude seriously? I'm trying to preserve it because you (assuming you are DragonBallZEEZEE) deleted it after we got into a debate with how I type.

I can delete it if you're that salty about it! You made an alt. account just to post this, too... that's pathetic.

Justarandomguy64's avatar
Justarandomguy64New Deviant

"Perserve it"

..Yeah, alright.. I'll believe that.. Delete it now. This is not okay. The way that you are right now isn't okay. I got upset for a reason, you just didn't respect it. I did it for you, so no more further actions would happen. But low and behold, you yourself become an asshole. Not me. Delete it now, or else.

SONICINSIDEOUTHobbyist Traditional Artist

You didn't respect how I type and you certainly didn't use appropriate language. I'm not admitting defeat... I'm saying this is stupid because you didn't need to delete the picture AS I WAS COMMENTING ON IT. I was going to say 'no hard feelings' and everything, but clearly you won't give me the time of day. The picture is gone, you happy now?

You started this by accepting my request. I gave you the option to back out. You're no better than I am, and I think a certain few other users would definitely agree with me. And really though, making a new account JUST to get back at someone you don't even have anything to do with to get personal with? Truly, one of us is clearly more wrong than the other...

And yes, the image you made was one of a kind, you can't just keep that to yourself after deleting it. This is the internet, didn't anyone ever tell you people can download things and do whatever they want with them? And hey, you said my 'paragraph replies' were p*ssing you off... well here you go... this is me... expressing myself... because I'm allowed to, because of a little thing called FREEDOM OF SPEECH. I didn't call you out for your passive-aggressive nature until now, I wanted to give you one fair chance, even with your distasteful reputation. But now your chance is up and I never want to see you again in any form.

I'm blocked this account too,so now you won't be able to comment on my profile or anything I produce... you don't respect my freedom of speech, so why should I respect yours. Call me out all you like, that'll just go to show how petty you are... I'm no antagonist and inside, I believe you can be better too... but for now, sayonora.

webkinzlover74133's avatar
webkinzlover74133Hobbyist Digital Artist

Wait, what happened?

SONICINSIDEOUTHobbyist Traditional Artist

Never mind, it's nothing to get fused about. I made a status update that summarize this (below), but basically... I requested DragonBallZEEZEE (yes, THAT guy) to draw one of my OCs, they didn't like the way I typed even when I just trying to say thanks, so I blocked them after they deleted the picture they drew for me. I reuploaded the image so people could still see it if they wanted to but then he made an alterantive account JUST to call me out for it, even though I made it clear that I didn't make the picture... so I shamed him and blocked him again. Though I DID delete the picture to make sure he couldn't be a petty baby about things anymore. He drew my stuff even though he's sick of Sonic-like characters and decided to go through all f this when I explicitly told him he could back out at any time. All in all, I'd say these events are entirely his fault. If he wasn't so mean to me, he wouldn't have a reason to spitefully remove the image in the first place... but I digress.

webkinzlover74133's avatar
webkinzlover74133Hobbyist Digital Artist

That's triggering.

SONICINSIDEOUTHobbyist Traditional Artist

Tell me about it! I'm just glad this seems to be over. Still, it's gonna take me all day to unwind from this... Do you think some RP'ing can cheer us up? :)

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DannySkunk's avatar
DannySkunkHobbyist General Artist

Is there a way to report an artist's whole gallery? Or at least, a user's behavior in general? Because I've seen more than my fair share of "artists" on DeviantArt where their entire gallery is stolen art, and there's too many submissions to flag. I know people were pointing fingers in this comments section but I was just wondering if there was a more official way of doing this.

The one in specific for today that caused me to come to this page has been told on multiple occasions in their comment section to stop, and they have been told multiple times that what they are doing is wrong; I don't think that me getting in touch will make a difference...

ArtStationHuntThief's avatar

Aggressive New all REAL ARTISTS Pay attention please! -----> Eliminator46

New Thief eliminator46
MisoCatt's avatar
MisoCattStudent Digital Artist

This user has been stealing multiple artworks by me and other artists that i know.

stolen artwork:


original artwork:

more stolen work:

bug based PTAs
PTA bundle

all of the original artwork shown in their gallery can be seen on this instagram account:

update: i filed a dmca for the stolen artwork, but yea.

shippaiman's avatar

He is an obvious and egregious piracy.

He changed the color scheme of Senran Kagura's Ikaruga fan art drawn by someone else and reprinted it as an original character without permission.

It's a horrible thing to do.

shippaiman's avatar

Is it useless to write about illegal reprints here?

Am I writing in the wrong place?

Is management in the direction of ignoring even explicit reprints?

Is it possible to say that copyright is protected in this way?

I'm Sad.

Paint-Writer's avatar
Paint-WriterStudent Digital Artist
When I upload my art to deviantart does that give other deviantart users the right to use my deviation in their journal entries? They link back to my deviation, but I don't want my art in their journal. Is this copyright infringement?
IndusGuys's avatar
IndusGuysProfessional Digital Artist

I would contact the artist and ask them not to. If they've pasted the link of your deviation I think it's fine but if they've downloaded your deviation and re-uploaded it even with a link I think that's out of order if you're unhappy with it. I, for sure, would be unhappy with that. It has happened to me when I've created images for infographics etc. Someone always copies and pastes my work then shares it. This annoys me because it's more effort for them and I don't get to see who's liking/sharing it. That's out of order and I tell them.

MayandKirby's avatar
MayandKirbyHobbyist General Artist

There is a user named “carrastevie“ who’s been uploading others works on his channel without permission. And then he blocked me after I called him out, Confirming he’s guilty. I’ve already warned the original people who made those images shot this guy.

Red-bat's avatar
Red-batProfessional Digital Artist

This user is uploading pictures from another artists, maybe the original creators are not in DA but the art is from another galleries for sure.

yolandi24's avatar
yolandi24Hobbyist Artist

I know stealing arts is very bad and it is correct but when someone admires an artist and wants to be like him and wants to redraw the art of a person had created before, it's not bad. They cannot accuse someone who did nothing wrong. Only those who are publishing pornographic images that shouldn't be here can be accused but not accuse those who want to redraw the arts . People can grab the art of the person who created it before to redraw to give them credit and link to the original image. Describing that it's based on or inspired by the above, that doesn't mean they consider them to be stealing art from everyone

funfourstudios's avatar
funfourstudiosHobbyist Filmographer

Again @TUTTIE-l-FNAF19831987 has stolen more art

funfourstudios's avatar
funfourstudiosHobbyist Filmographer

@TUTTIE-I-FNAF19831987 has been taking other people’s renders and art without permission. He has also been taking and editing others art too. Just looking at their account you will see art that is not theirs. I rest my case

DoodleBubb's avatar
DoodleBubbHobbyist Digital Artist

Morumo-st has been stealing and reselling someones ocs under a similar name to the artist! they will take the money and block you! it is 1000% stolen art and should not even be up for sale!

GrapefruitFace1's avatar
GrapefruitFace1Hobbyist General Artist

I've found a rather spicy art thief :

He's re-uploading artworks of other people's work, unedited. Some with credits and some without. He claims he has permission, but from what I've gathered I believe this is highly unlikely. He also blocked me, straight after telling other artists that he's stolen their artwork. If anyone wants more evidence, please don't hesitate to get in touch. <3

SopheriaStar010's avatar
SopheriaStar010Student Artist

My friends and I reported this art thief several times but we didn't hear the news from dA.
This art thief harassed, blackmailed, and forced my friend for making leather fetish for him. Even she said 'no', he warned her in a nasty way.

This is evidence that the art thief stole.
Nebula is wearing leather outfit by: GothNebula by Terminator9632587411

My friend got more evidence about that guy.…

Please remove :iconterminator9632587411: 's stolen art and give him a warning.
anonymous's avatar
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