Online art theft can affect every artist at any age, level of skill, or style. Just because you think you’re an average artist at best, art theft still happens.
I had an interview with Huey, a queer digital artist, who discovered their art (along with many others) had been stolen from their site and posted on a stranger’s personal blog.
According to them, it’s very common for other people, usually friends or followers, to notify artists that their art had been stolen and used without permission. For Huey, their friend found a reposting blog and noticed their art on it. Can you believe that there are blogs actually dedicated to this?
“I didn’t believe it at first. Like, who would want to steal my art? I’m not very popular or anything.” It just goes to show that art thieves will take anything that they want from anyone without any consideration for their art.
What if someone drew R-18 art but didn’t want to show the general public because they knew it may ruin their reputation as a professional artist? Many twitter artists have private twitters in order to prevent sensitive images from leaking into the general online space, and yet their explicit art is still posted to other sites like Zerochan, Instagram, Tumblr or Pinterest without their knowledge.
Confrontation is always unpleasant but wouldn’t be necessary if people knew not to steal art from online sources. A mistake Huey made with their case was not dealing with it in a public space. “I sent them a private message and I tried to be serious but not mean. I mean, it could have been a kid who didn’t understand what was going on. Unfortunately, they didn’t wanna settle it peacefully. After some back and forths of ‘you stole my (and others) art’ and ‘no i didn’t!’ they just blocked me.” Ideally, artists should be able to resolve conflicts in a private way, but many art thieves refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoing and shut out artists without ever fixing anything.
Most image-based websites have made reporting stolen artworks even harder, by removing a general ‘report’ button and forcing artists to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) report, which requires full names and addresses artists may not be comfortable with disclosing. Essentially, websites take the responsibility of monitoring their users out of their hands and dump it on the artist. This is completely unfair toward online artists and a plain ‘fuck you, deal with it yourself’ to them.
“It took a while for the staff to respond to my art theft complaints. If it was easier and faster to have the staff come in and stop the art theft, then it would discourage thieves much more.” Huey told me in closing when I asked what they thought would help prevent art theft. But it seems the staff are all doing the opposite.
Time will tell if the online environment for artists becomes more hospitable for them.
You can see more of Huey’s art here: DeviantArt
Image sourced from MorgueFile
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