How To Deal With Online Art Theft

Here we are at the final post and this is where the most important and useful part of this campaign will be. TLDR? Don’t worry, this post will tell you all that you need!

First of all, once you or a follower finds out about the theft, take a screenshot! You’re going to need that evidence. Be sure to keep the URL and page information like when it was uploaded safe!

Going off Nela Dunato’s article on how to deal with art theft, the next step would be to send the offender a polite but firm notification. This notification can be a message to their blog or an email to them, but the key step in this is to request a take down of your art within a specific time frame. Usually most artists give 72 hours (3 days) to the offender but that’s up to you. This step tends to work with more professional companies stealing art from you, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

The main thing is to contact the hosting site if negotiations fall through. This can be Tumblr, Pixiv, DeviantArt, or even LiveJournal, though they all have different policies in place for reporting art. You can use the screenshot you took before to make your case to the web host here! Most of the time, you’ll have to file a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) report against the user that’s claiming your art as your own. Yes, you’ll need your personal information, but if you’re young, just ask a parent or guardian for help.

Here‘s an example DMCA report you can reference if you need to file one.

The most important part of how to deal with online art theft is to keep producing! Sure, people might steal your work and pretend it’s their own, but they are the kinds of people with incredibly low self-esteem and really should be pitied more than anything else. They need a crutch to get through life and you? You’re standing right there! You’re making beautiful works of art that people love!

Clear the way above you so that you may stand on top, and everyone is bound to see you. You are a force of creativity and people will try to bring you down out of jealousy, but you. You are incredible. You are an artist.

Don’t let art theft kill your imagination.

#deathtoarttheft

–VZ

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image source from MorgueFile

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A Case In Point

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.

–VZ

You can see more of Huey’s art here: DeviantArt

Image sourced from MorgueFile

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