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Submitted on
October 15, 2011


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Recently I saw a notice from a fellow deviant about finding some of his photos online. Stolen from DA where he generously shares them to be used on a porn site. Obviously this is illegal, a violation of copyright law. DeviantART makes that perfectly clear in the terms and conditions when you sign up, and you are legally bound by them even if you just click "I Accept" without reading them. Small consolation to an artist who must now fight to have his work protected under the law. Another deviant, also a photographer, has a very serious discussion on his page about it. You can find that discussion here….

Why should we care about this? Well I'll give you two reasons. Any artist will never share their work if it will be stolen, so where will you go to find quality art like this for free hmm? Just as bad, the artists that do share their work are forced to watermark it in an attempt to prevent theft. Watermarks are like locks on a door, they are only there to keep honest people honest. A professional who wants to steal it can still do so, but why bother. There is so much else they can steal for free they don't bother. The watermark is a halfway decent means of protecting your rights and an effective means of making the art much less enjoyable to see. Copyright theft effects us all.

There is an alternative!

Before we get into that though, let's discuss just what a copyright is. In the case of any piece of Literature, Music, Art (of any definition), Movies, etc, etc, etc current copyright law defines the copyright of any piece created after 1976 as lasting the life of the creator plus 50 years. Registration is not important to establish the copyright, just the act of creation. If a company commissioned the piece or created it, the copyright is 100 years period. An exception is made in the case of Logos, etc which fall under Trademark law.

Fair use laws are a lot more limited than they used to be as well. At one time you could copy anything for use in a classroom no problem. Charging for copies along with using that to avoid buying textbooks put an end to those practices. Limits also had to be set on the ability to use something to parody it, etc, etc because of abuse. Even using part of a work inside a larger piece is dangerous. The only way to be completely safe is if the piece is changed in such a way as to be unrecognizable. When in doubt keep three things in mind for fair use. Did I make any profit from using it in any way form or fashion? Did my use defame or degrade the piece, the creator or subject in a way that is not easily recognizable as satire? Did I use more than 25% of the piece and did it make up more that 25% of my total work? If the answer to any of these three questions is yes, chances are you would loose a fair use case so you better have written permission.

Have I given people the idea that copyright laws are a lot stricter than they used to be? Good, because they are. Every time copyright laws have been re-written they've been strengthened and this is a long way from the days when a copyright lasted 7 years from the date of publication. Today's copyright laws don't have teeth, they have fangs!

The problem is the Internet. A digital medium with limited tracking ability and a wide open system of transmission. The solution is a web based effort to eliminate copyright theft. This free service works in a three step process. First you upload a copy of your work that is logged and securely stored, A digital "fingerprint" of this work is made, logged, stored and emailed to you providing free proof of copyright for legal purposes. Your original creation is now registered and protected and you are allowed to display the provided copyright logo to announce that fact.

It's a sad fact of life that a lot of this theft occurs simply because someone doesn't see a copyright logo and assumes it must be public domain. The truth is exactly the opposite. Unless you see a statement that the work is public domain you MUST assume it isn't, that's the law. Take advantage of this special service. After all, we all know the true meaning of the word "assume."

Given the importance of this information, I am acknowledging here that the information I've written will be public domain. It may be freely distributed, copied, quoted and used by anyone. Please get the word out there.
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scribblehscribbleh Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2014
Nicely done, I didn't know the 50 years stuff still stood though, many thanks for writing this up, Ta.:D
Lord-Darcy Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2014
You're most welcome. =)
MoofyModel Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014  Professional General Artist
Well written! I've shared this on my Facebook page to keep the message moving :)
Lord-Darcy Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2014
Thank-You by KmyGraphic It's a message that needs to get out, which is why I haven't written a jpournal entry since then. I want it on my profile page =)
Dawn-Of-Rebellion Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Had some things deleted in the past for copyright issues, any new things I upload I try to either create myself, or make sure the website used authorizes uploading elsewhere. Marketing someone else's work as your own, especially when you can simply recreate your own original version as this IS an art website, is by all means not okay. I recently caught a user doing so with a photographer I consider myself a fan of's work, reported him directly to that photographer immediately through Twitter. Know this is a bit late, but thanks for posting this.
Lord-Darcy Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2013
You're very welcome. Glad to spread the news wherever I can.
ssj8goku Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2012
Art should be viewed, but not stolen only to have someone else's name put on it. That is plagiarism, and plagiarism is not only ethically immoral, but illegal.
Lord-Darcy Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2012
My sentiments exactly, ty.
StudioSomnium Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2012  Professional Photographer
You seem to be up on the law but I think you might be missing something of the philosophy behind art. In my humble opinion, art is made to be consumed. Now obviously the artist has the right to take commercial advantage of his/her work; however, this does not mean that all third party use of the work is "theft". Theft means taking something that belongs to another.

Any artist who posts something on DA or Tumblr, etc, must understand that they are intentionally making that work available to the public for public consumption. The whole point of posting is to show off your work, to allow others to see it, to enjoy it. When consumers demonstrate their appreciation for a work by posting it to their personal Tumblr account, etc, they are not necessarily stealing the work.

As far as I am concerned, theft only takes place when such third party use impairs the original creator's ability to commercially exploit the work. In other words, when the re-blogging somehow diminishes the artists potential profit or ability to create in the future. If the artist is selling the work to the public, a third party's attempt to make it available for free is theft. If an artist needs the trust of shy models which is broken when a work appears on Tumblr, this is theft.

But lets be honest. This is probably not that common. Most of the stuff I've come across on DA is made available to the public free of charge and most models will never know (and are unlikely to care) if their stuff makes its way across Tumblr. So most of the time, there is no real harm. This idea that artists have some kind of absolute lock on their work is absurd. If you create something and you want absolute and total control over who sees it you cannot put it on the internet. You must lock it in a Swiss safe deposit box and never show it to a soul.

Remember, art is only made possible because of the civil system in which we live. Absent our respective communities and their collective effort it would be wholly impossible for anyone to create anything outside of the necessary tools of survival. Art arose only when society evolved to the point where non-productive labor was possible because of the over-production of the community group. As such, the community has some claim to all art. Thus, our fair use laws (however watered down they may have become).

What I am trying to say is that artists need to relax. If you are not loosing money on something than leave it alone. I understand that there are a great number of legitimate concerns about art theft but not every person who posts your picture somewhere else deserves to be tared and feathered; sometimes they just like your stuff. As artists we need to make sure that our anger has a legitimate target lest we loose the sympathy of the law making public and find our copyright laws in decline.
Lord-Darcy Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2012
You are quite right that a lot of things on DA are available for public use, and everything on here is available for public viewing. However That isn't the case here, It's available for public viewing only, nor does it negate the copyright of the artist.

Even DA itself states quite clearly that art remains the property of the owner and no rights are granted unless otherwise stated. It's why a simple method of granting "creative commons" permissions is included in the submission process.

What it boils down to, IMO, is that she complained of her rights as owner being abused without permission. Presumably whoever stole the art is charging for people to see it but if they are not, are they linking back to her original work? Do they attribute the art to her? Why didn't they contact her and get permission? I not only know the law here, I know the profits that are often made in this kind of piracy and they are huge. Where does the artist profit when the art is stolen?

Frankly, at one time, copyright could only last 7 years. Now it's th4e life of the artist plus 50 years unless it's corporate owned in which case it's a flat 100 years. I personally think that's a ridiculous amount of time but it's intended to help artists, writers, etc profit from their work if they want to. If Dorkypyro wanted this to have public use, she can place it under creative commons license or make it public domain, but she has to do that before anyone can use her work without her permission. That includes showing it for free just because someone likes it. Harmless as that seems there are problems with that too.

I hope this helps clear my message up a little.
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