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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:
TheClipArtist Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
SuperMysticalFairy Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Student Digital Artist
Heads UP!

A new art thief named mayaknight has taken Theboorman's MLP art!

Link to the original art:…

Link to the stolen art:
Pinkie pie 2018 EGRule 34.

Thanks and come again!
XxShaym1nxX Featured By Owner 5 days ago
:iconwiktoriawind: stole :iconwindwo1f:'s OC

Original:  WindWolf 2014 Ref by WindWo1f
Stolen:  BlueWind by wiktoriawind
xSweetSlayerx Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2018  Professional General Artist
This gal named sasukesmainlover has this on her gallery.
It's originally made by a Japanese artist named Sayori. This piece is Sayori's intellectual property and shouldn't be posted by other people.
This deviant knows it's not hers but is throwing this huge hissy fit about not taking it down.
Can you guys tell her she needs to take it down please?
origanal by sasukesmainlover kiara reference by sasukesmainlover
MelodySugarPlum Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2018  Student General Artist
A person named of cristianharold0000.deviantart.… had been stealing art without permission. He didn’t even give sasisage credit for her art work.

Wolfstar15 Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
What if someone traced an image and failed to give credit to the original image? 
Wolf Drawing by Wolfstar15  
Other images of the same drawing can be found in these places:…………:
Nick Wolfy by NickWolfyFurry
Someone has stolen an Icon from me on my other account.
Proof is here:

Link to their profile:

They legit just flipped it and they're claiming it as their own. It's all solid evidence right in the link.
And I've asked them countless times for them not to use my icon and they're still refusing to do anything about it. I've deactivated my other account for the time being until this is resolved.
MoonFlowerSax Featured By Owner Edited Mar 5, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Why can't people report art theft if it is not their own art?

All I can do is select "This is someone else’s intellectual propert" which basically tells me to contact the original creator.
Problem, they were last online 35 weeks ago and some other users claims their art.

Perfect Student by jcharlesmachiavelli

twilight sparkle exe. by demon-ofTheDarkness

Note the comment sections. They even acuse the original artist being the thief and their arguments are full of holes.
Such as...
...saying they did the art already in 2006 (whereas the depicted character Twilight Sparkle from MLP G4 only exists since 2010)
...saying that basically if there's no name on the picture, you can take it...
...saying it is a recolour and they see no problem with it (note, there is no recolour at all)
MoonFlowerSax Featured By Owner Edited 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
They've sent me a note:
20180316 demon-ofTheDarkness note arttheft by MoonFlowerSax

Their stance about art theft in their latest status update:
dust6 Featured By Owner Mar 1, 2018  Hobbyist Filmographer
This user " "and"" have uploaded other peoples art without their permission.

BORT-Sit down in my legs by bortmania
Chibi sexy Bob by Spookytaco99 Attractive chibi Sideshow Bob by bortmania
What do you loock? by Spookytaco99 BORT- What you look? by bortmania

LeonieEngel Featured By Owner Feb 28, 2018
The user has already appeared under several names ( and The user has stolen the pictures from the Instagram user… her blog….

Even the profile text is stolen:…
RinKenjin Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist This user just started their account and to me it looks like they've re-uploaded other peoples art without their permission.

Example:… <- original
Widowmaker Huntress Fanart by IIwidowII <- stolen
Bushi357 Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
That's great. So I cannot report someone for stealing another photographer's work, even if I can prove it. Sounds legit dA Admin staff.


Mature Content

Summer smile 2 by eroticspring


Mature Content

Summer smile 3 by eroticspring

Are actually from a MetArt spread by Goncharov…

But I cannot report them(?) because why??
Dark-Anmut Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
If we're being open and honest here...I found these two almost identical pictures, I'm trying to figure out which one is the original and which one is stolen...or, maybe they're just both really well done? I dunno...I've contacted the two artists and let them know, but...

Revali (TLoZ:BotW) by Genogal    Revali, Champion of the Rito by ZidaneMina
Eternal-Galaxy Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
someone by the name of StarTheUniCat is stealing VoidTheCat's art so ummmmmmm can someone do something about this
XxShaym1nxX Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2018
:iconededdeddyfan100: stole :iconmoostargazer:'s art

Original:  Good VS Evil by MoostarGazer

Stolen (also comes with other presumably stolen pictures as well):  (Eddzone) Ed edd n eddy fanart by ededdeddyfan100
Hidden by Commenter
EmilyBandicoot1234 Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
thanks u so much! Hug 
bookwormsteve Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2018
in other words a wrong was committed and you did nothing about it
bookwormsteve Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2018
funny that you say you protect peple art because one of my friends charart got stolen and you did nothing about it I trired to report the guy and I got blocked so don't give me that
razrRjunko Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
ok i have literally no idea where i'm supposed to ask this bc the FAQ keeps directing me here and at this point im kind of drained from running around trying to find answers so i'll just leave this here for whoever may stumble upon it or whoever might have an answer

so heres my question, i release free to use 3D assets but my work has rules set to it. i've prohibited certain people from using my work because they've broken my rules so often in the past, and one of those people keeps using my work and breaking my rules regardless of the fact that i have outright told them not to use my work (and i just want to point out that yes, i'm aware my stuff is out there for public download so i really cant stop them from using it, yes, i know that, but the fact remains that i've also made it explicitly clear what my rules are)

i have two questions here:
how would i report someone that is using my content, which is free to use, but is breaking the rules/guidelines for my work? would that fall under a DMCA? (for example, my rules state not to use my content for works that are 18+ in nature; if someone used my work in 18+ content anyway, how would i report that for breaking my rules?)
if i've banned a person from using my work and they use it anyway and i've asked them not to/to take their post using my content down and they ignore me, how would i report that?

i've been trying to find an answer to these for a while but i've had no luck tracking down specifics
emosmolarts Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
id like to know if i made a folder that says bases and in the description it says all bases don not belong to me is that still called crediting
:-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) :-? (Confused) 
Hidden by Commenter
Dissonant-Wasteland Featured By Owner Edited Feb 15, 2018  Hobbyist Artist
So, why did I find the images on other sites, one of them going back as far as SEPTEMBER, and another going back to early 2017?
KittenKayleigh Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2018  Hobbyist Photographer
lovely4you is stealing photos taken by other people and trying to sell them for points.
Wallery-Wallin Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2018  New Deviant
Hi there,
it seems as this has been stolen from the original artist,
it's a slight edit with no credit

Stolen:  Purple Umbreon by FrostiestFire  

Original:  Blue Umbreon by 14-bis

I find it to be quite wrong that the artist has put so much work into this lovely picture
to then simply have it stolen and slightly modified
14-bis Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2018
I know that art theft .
Its amazing how much time this image was stole on these years .
Wallery-Wallin Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2018  New Deviant
I know you have taken note of it
From what I remember it's your most pirated piece
It's a beautiful picture, but it's sad that it has been stolen so much

I thought it would be well to try as times has hopefully changed and they are more serious about the topic
EbbiTheTigress Featured By Owner Edited Feb 11, 2018  Student Artist
sfcabanas15 Keeps stealing images off google images and making points off of them
purpledragon267 Featured By Owner Edited Feb 11, 2018  Student Digital Artist
FaithSDK has blocked me from replying but she claims she came to me to tell me to credit her, whereas I came to her first to tell her I credited her, shes is saying I traced her gif when I never even knew that it had existed. Place my work over hers to prove me wrong that it is a one to one replica. This photo below disproves her claims I did not credit her on my first "offense". She even blocked me so I could not defend myself. My PS4 cover and painting fall under fair use. Since I credited her on the first post and the second was inspired by A Hero's Tail. 

I did infact credit FaithSDK for my PS4 cover by purpledragon267  
Cheekymoomoo Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
1117111 is posting traced art that was drawn originally by VillieTheDJ 
Cisou Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2018  Student Artist
STOLEN :  Female Artwork - 071 by BennyHermawan

Actually, bennyhermawan is stealing some asian games artworks. Just search for "ジョーカー ギャング ロード キャラ" on Google (pictures), you will notice these are actually the original artworks this guy stole
stuffuI Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2018  New Deviant
i have a question
is downloading someone's art stealing ??
cause i a lot of times download art i like off deviantart to save for personal use incase it gets deleted
i don't sell it or even post it, it's just on my computer to look at and nothing else
and ( as far as i'm concerned, i could be wrong ) it doesn't seem like they're getting profit off of it ?? i'm pretty sure deviantart doesn't give you profit for posting art and every time someone downloads it it's stealing, if there's a free download i click it, if it requires payment to download i pay
Cheekymoomoo Featured By Owner Feb 8, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello don't know if this has been brought up here but Mandarino0 is tracing VillieTheDJ 's art and reselling it as adoptables. He's blocked me for calling this out and trying to push him onto a better path. Been reporting all of his art and so have other friends but so far nothing's happened about it.
Ninjamoon Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018  New Deviant Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hello, deviant :icond4rk96pl: D4rK96pl is uploading other peoples artwork with out permissions. I have been blocked by him for letting him know that uploading someone else's art without written permission is theft, but he hid my comment and blocked me. So I cannot report any of his art. Please ban this user D4rK96pl
nathan15543 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2018
It’s just art what’s so important about it
AL357 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
It's important because the creators spent effort into it, especially if it was worth stealing.
You'd understand if you're an artist :)
nathan15543 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2018
Ok fine
artii2tiiciin2aniity Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Student General Artist
they say that, and they are an thief themselves [nathan i mean]
AL357 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, I wasn't aware of that :/
Yeah, it makes sense.
artii2tiiciin2aniity Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2018  Student General Artist
Pxoenix7 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Hello. She…

steals pictures of my friend, copied her profile completely and humiliated her. I ask you for help.
Original  -…
Thief -…
SukalaAP Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Student General Artist
A user by the name of alysew8 post content she didn't make, including other deviant's fanart. She needs to be reported.
Ronoae Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Have fun tearing these guys to shreds, not only are they thieves but it's all SCAT/FART fetish work they've stolen!
The last one has even taken from zombiecat on FA, but I don't have the balls to tell them myself :')
darkladykana Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2018   Digital Artist
Original-> Daily Paint 1882# Panda Cotta by Cryptid-Creations  Stolen-> Heart kat panda by Pirate3434
Dark-Anmut Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Okay, this one is just bad. =/
TheIkranRider77 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Hey, everyone. I'm dealing with an art thief for the past month. Her name is maryjoyg38, and she's been using not just my content w/o consent, but also my friends' content as well. Lately, she's been posting spam, in which she never gets the grasp of the English language, and she never shows any remorse for her actions. Mary has been tarnishing the F-Zero communities with her content, and Buttscotthpiie's most of all; she happens to be a good friend of mine and she's been altering me on the misuse of our work. That includes our OCs and some of our literary works. I've been reporting her left and right as well as spreading the word to other fellow artists, and I feel the site's not doing anything to stop her. She even posted once a picture of Mary's OC, Lyn Hawkeye, kill Buttscottch's OC, Luna Stewart, and never took it down. And the fact that she just released something that included her OC on the same team as our OCs was just sickening. I've been wanting to ban maryjoyg38 for a month now; she's clearly an art thief and plagiarist, with no regard for our work nor our well-being, I feel. I wish someone could discover her and right her wrongs very soon.
ENERHEL Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2018
Original:  kokoni fried chicken by sasucchi95  Stolen:  Kokona Haruka by Sasucchi95- Queen Ballora- by QueenBalloraPurpleYT

Original:  25.9.17 by Ledi-Alucard  Stolen:  Ayano Aishi/ Yandere-chan of YanDev- Queen Ballora by QueenBalloraPurpleYT

Original:  Yandere-Chan by Likesac  Stolen: Ayano Aishi/Yandere-chan of YanDev- Queen Ballora- by QueenBalloraPurpleYT
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