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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DeviantArt

Thanks For Nothing, DeviantArt

It’s time to talk about DeviantArt.

DeviantArt’s Art Theft Journal replaced the ‘report’ button in July 2015 and it was met with waves of criticism by artists using the site. In the journal, it outlined that ‘art theft’ was not art theft at all. It was, in fact, “stealing a painting off a wall”. It continued to explain that what happened over and over and over on their own site was copyright infringement.

While the writers aren’t wrong per se, it still garnered a lot of justified confusion and anger because replacing the option to report an offense with a convoluted explanation of copyright law simply made the artist environment on the site less safe. Especially since the site’s demographic is largely made of young teenagers from 13 upwards, it was not a very clever planning decision to write a journal that would give these users the wrong idea on what they should do when their art is stolen.

With the severe backlash from DeviantArt’s Art Theft Journal, it’s becoming more obvious that not even the admins of the popular website take their users seriously anymore. With a website that makes their revenue off aspiring artists, they really shouldn’t have tried to pull a stunt like the journal.

Read the Art Theft Journal here and comment your thoughts.

–VZ

Tracing: Flattery or Theft?

They say that ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ but a lot artists see it as lazy work riding on the coattails of better artists.

There are unfortunately a lot of people out there who copy other peoples’ art and alter it just a little, then sell it for a lot of money and gain lots of recognition while the original artist usually has no idea. This is still art theft. All that hard work gone into someone else’s easy profit. It’s heartbreaking for artists who find themselves the victims of art thieves who get away with stealing. Even worse, sometimes people ignorant of the situation blame the original artist for copying a more ‘famous’ work!

Tracing is terribly easy, especially with the image editing technology we have at our fingertips, and it’s only led to more people claiming other peoples’ work as their own.

Tracing doesn’t count as interpretation.

Tracing just makes you look like a cheap amateur who can’t tell the difference between Paint and Photoshop.

But tracing isn’t all bad. How do you expect artists to improve? Copying. That’s how. Copy, refine, then adapt. The short of it is that every artist will copy, sometimes trace, to improve their own art and that’s alright.

Just don’t put your traces onto the internet where people can see. Or portfolios, because that really will make you look cheap and unprofessional.

–VZ

image source: Hailey1806696

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5 Things NOT To Do With Online Art

So you know what to do with art that you like. What shouldn’t you do, then?

Here’s a quick list of what you probably shouldn’t do with art you find online and why.

  1. Take art without permission

The number one peeve of all artists. Nothing annoys us more than seeing our art under someone else’s name. Sometimes, it adds insult to injury when someone’s re-post is more popular than our own. Taking art without permission just tells the artist that people don’t care about an artist’s rights as a person and that the thief didn’t care much about a simple common courtesy like asking politely.

2. Criticise the art

It sounds a little counter-productive, but there’s a reason why the ‘sensitive artist’ stereotype exists. It doesn’t matter if you call it an effort to help the artist improve, uncalled criticism can still hurt the self-esteem that nurtures great art. Sometimes artists will ask what their audience enjoys about their art and where they may need improvement, but like all criticism, no one wants to hear it when they don’t want it.

3. Ridicule the art

You’ve heard of the blogs that make fun of art that people have found online. It’s straight up bullying and degradation of an artist. Not fun at all.

4. Attack the artist for the content

Art is an expression of the self. It’s also an exploration of aspects of the mind, so naturally there will be disturbing forms of art that exist. Creating explicit art can be seen as a healthier expression of the mind rather than an actual performance, though it stands to reason for there to be sufficient barriers and warnings in place. Telling an artist directly about how their art is problematic or why the content is wrong is likely preaching to a choir. An unimpressed choir at that too. However, a polite discussion of the content of the work can lead to an understanding on possibly overseen aspects of art that could be potentially hurtful. Always treat an artist with respect.

5. False accusations of plagiarism

No one likes this, and it only serves to cause drama that is easily spread around and misinterpreted. It may also hurt the artist’s future prospects of work, so false accusations of anything are a really low blow.

The less respect an artist receives from their audience, the less likely they will continue creating art. Protecting artists is a reflection of society and culture.

–VZ

Online Art Theft Is A Thing And It’s Serious

You might have heard the war cry of the DeviantArt artist — “This is my art, no stealing!!1!” — and laughed at the sloppily recoloured image of a Sonic the Hedgehog character or a badly traced My Little Pony horse. However, do you know how long it took the artist to edit the image? Even if these characters are just different colours with different names, do you know about their detailed backstory? What can people use and call their own and what is stealing art? Why am I even making a fuss about online art theft at all?!

Copyright is confusing as is without bringing the online world into the fray, but this blog aims to give some insight into what artists and non-artists can do with the cool pictures they find on the Internet. One day, there will be a world where art is free to be shared without the fear of theft. #deathtoarttheft

–VZ