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Protect Your Work

Journal Entry: Thu Jun 19, 2014, 5:31 PM
For many artists, art theft is a frustrating reality. No matter how we watermark, logo, or constrain the resolution of our work, there are instances where artwork will be reposted, ripped, or used for commercial gain without credit or compensation. For some, this can be almost flattering, to know that there are those that like your work enough to steal it. But, the fact still remains, that your work has been used without permission, and for no gain of your own.

Protectyourwork by Kendra-Paige

My Experience

I have been a photographer for four years now, and throughout that time I am always learning. Part of that education is around copyright, and how to protect my work. The collage above is a brief representation of some of the ways my photography has been stolen. Some were edited without permission, event advertisements, included in a calendar, manipulated to advertise jewelry, sold on canvas, for promoting a cosmetic brand, or even for music videos.

Each time I discovered a stolen image, part of me was flattered, and part of me was irked. Many of these instances were from countries that did not speak the same language as I did. I felt helpless, as I worried there was no way to get my work removed.

How To Search For Infractions

There are two methods that I employ for researching where my work has been used or reposted. The first method is to utilize Google.

First Method: Google


Step 1:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.14.19 PM by Kendra-Paige
Go to the image you wish to search for. Right-Click, and select 'Copy Image Location.'
:bulletpurple: If you use Google Chrome, select 'Search Google for this Image.'

Step 2:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.14.53 PM by Kendra-Paige
Paste the link into Google's search box. After submitting the search, you will likely see the above.
Select 'search by image.'

Step 3:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.17.03 PM by Kendra-Paige
Now you will see the visually similar results. This will also allow you view videos and other media that utilize your content.
Keep in mind that this will show links of DeviantArt galleries and other sites that are showing your work, so not all results are red flags.

Second Method: Tineye.com


Step 1:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.27.59 PM by Kendra-Paige
Go to tineye.com
Similar to the above, you can paste the image URL, or you can upload your image.

Step 2:

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 6.27.36 PM by Kendra-Paige
View the results given.

What Next?

Now that you've identified instances of your work being used without your permission, you have a few options.

First Option:

E-Mail or message the apparent person responsible, or the brand. I highly recommend being as professional as possible. While the act of art theft is wrong, it's sadly not something that everyone grasps the gravity of, and there are instances where the person responsible did not inform the client they produced the work for. Approaching the situation with a composed tone will yield much better results than threats.

In the message, be sure to link to the copyright violation. If you wish to provide a link to your own work as proof, you are welcome to as well.

Be sure to state your terms clearly in the message. Not every instance of art theft requires removal. It could be an opportunity to have your name credited for extra exposure, or you may be able to request compensation for the use of the image. The latter piece will require further research into your legal standing, in accordance with your area's copyright laws.

No matter what your terms are, impose a deadline. A reasonable deadline for action is two to three weeks. Again, I highly discourage using threats, so using language similar to "I will follow up in three weeks if there is no response," is recommended.

Second Option:

Many social media outlets offer features to help protect copyright. Report the offending content, and follow that particular site's instructions for reporting copyright infringements.

Third Option:

Google offers a Removal Request service for Copyright Violations. Follow this link: support.google.com/legal/troub…
This form will allow you to remove search results from Google for websites that contain copyrighted material.

What About Language Barriers?

Google Translate has worked wonderfully for me when it came to finding contact information, and for composing messages.

Google Translate Steps:

Go to translate.google.com/

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 7.53.50 PM by Kendra-Paige

You can copy and paste the website URL into the given text box, and select 'Translate.' It will automatically detect the language, and translate it into your chosen language.

You can also type the content of the message you wish to send into the box, and translate it into the desired language. I highly recommend using very simple words, in order to avoid translation issues or misunderstandings.

What Should I Not Do?

Publicly shaming or outing someone for stealing your work is ill-advised. While you may be perfectly justified in your public outrage, handling these instances privately is a far better way to protect yourself and your brand.

Do not make threats, especially legal ones. The cost of going to small claims court or hiring attorneys is quite high, so unless you fully intend to hire legal representation, tossing around an idle threat can only do you harm.

In my experience, those I have contacted have been apologetic, and have agreed to my terms. This is the goal, as there is nothing gained by seeking emotional retribution.

What Else Can I Do?

Watermarking your work is a great way to protect it. If you are comfortable with your content being shared, then I recommend using a URL or logo as your watermark, in order to guarantee credit to yourself.

I also recommend that you do not post high resolution versions of your artwork if thievery is a concern, as this makes it much easier for your work to be re-purposed.

If you are concerned about the copyright of your work, you can also register your work for copyright with your local government. This site www.copyrighted.com/ (suggested by Shahrezad is a great avenue. This varies by location as well as media, but it is a great option if you wish to further guarantee that your artwork remains protected.

Other Resources

Watermark Tutorial - Photoshop by Kamakru

In Conclusion

The methods mentioned above have worked for myself in protecting my artwork, as well as the artwork as others. No company or entity is too big or too small to not warrant contact when it comes to your copyright. Remain calm and diligent, and protect your work!


For Discussion

All comments and feedback are greatly welcome. Please comment or favorite this journal in order to help pass the word along. I would also love to have some discussion around the topic.

Tell us about your own experiences with copyright infringement.
1.) Have you had your work used without your permission?
2.) What were the steps you took to handle the situation?
3.) What were the results?
4.) Do you have any advice for other creatives?
5.) How do you personally protect your artwork?

Giveaway

:bulletred: I will give ten lucky winners 50 :points: each.
:bulletpurple: Add this journal to your favorites to qualify.
:bulletpurple: Participating in the discussion increases your chances.
:bulletred: Giveaway ends July 1st.


Winners

:iconmiyeong: :iconfoxberrystudios: :iconandaelentari: :iconchill13: :icondoodlemancy:
:iconiambobbolie: :iconjolli-y: :iconmisshelena789: :iconryedragon: :icon0bsidio:

Please :+fav: this article to help support the cause! :iconkendra-paige:
:icongood-intention:


Tips for protecting your artwork in local and international situations. Topics include how to research copyright infringements, how to handle the situation, as well as other steps to protect your brand.

Model Credits: Maila van Lusste & McKenna Knipe.

:bulletblue: Follow Me On: Facebook l Website l Tumblr l Flickr l 500px l Instagram l Twitter
Add a Comment:
 
:icondimakosmos:
dimakosmos Featured By Owner Edited Sep 10, 2014
This is very helpful, thank you
Reply
:iconartamusica:
artamusica Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2014  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks Kendra for this journal. It's very interesting and professional. Not that I have to worry about art theft (at least I don't think so) as am hardly a professional. But I think it's very good have this information and sound advice out there! Thanks for sharing. 
Reply
:iconchelseahantken:
ChelseaHantken Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2014
Wonderful article, very helpful!
Reply
:iconlior-art:
Lior-Art Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Pink Flowers by KmyGraphicPink Flowers by KmyGraphicPink Flowers by KmyGraphic
Reply
:iconcharligal-stock:
charligal-stock Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Professional General Artist
This is a fantastic journal!
Reply
:iconiambobbolie:
IAmBobbolie Featured By Owner Edited Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the giveaway points.  Wasn't expecting to win.  I don't even think I was paying attention to the giveaway…lol!  I was more excited about the helpful information you provided.  Again, thank you!
 Neko Emoji-17 (Happy) [V1] 
Reply
:iconmiyeong:
Miyeong Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014   General Artist
Thank you for the giveaway points!~^^
Reply
:iconwestern-wind:
Western-Wind Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
These are very, very good tips!!! Thank you for sharing!
Reply
:iconandaelentari:
Andaelentari Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
omg thank you for the giveaway points as well :hug:
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014   Photographer
You're very welcome!
Reply
:iconryedragon:
RyeDragon Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh, well I see I won something.
This was the first time I commented on a front page deviant in a year and I win something hrm.
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014   Photographer
Haha, not a bad coincidence, then!
Reply
:iconlolita-artz:
Lolita-Artz Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for your advice Kendra.Tineye is a miracle thank you for sharing :)
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014   Photographer
You're very welcome! Thank you for your feedback. :hug:
Reply
:iconlolita-artz:
Lolita-Artz Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
your welcome,have a nice day! :hug:
Reply
:iconfoxberrystudios:
foxberrystudios Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Student General Artist
Oh, awesome. Didn't expect this. 
BUT! There is some really good information here both in the artist's statement and in the comments. 
Reply
:iconglange65:
glange65 Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2014
Great advice.  About a year ago I found a couple of my icon sets on the site Iconspedia.  They did credit me and linked back to my DeviantArt profile, which I was grateful for (although I haven't been able to create a profile on that site, add or eliminate the sets available nor have I been successful in contacting the site owners...if anyone knows anything about IconsPedia, let me know).

Like your statement...I was surprised, annoyed, and angry that someone would use or give away my work without my permission.  While I gave it freely here, I still had some control...something I've learned is impossible to maintain in the public domain.  At the same time, quite flattered that my work was valued and considered professional enough to be presented.  I told my friends..."I've made it as a graphic artist...I've been stolen!" 

I would add an additional bit of advice...for those that work on smaller works, used in sets like Icons;
1. Don't include all the icons or thumbnails in a single preview picture
2. The preview picture should also not be in high resolution
3.  Watermark the preview shots.
I've found people and places that used a high-quality preview photo to photoshop themselves a complete icon set to use and give away as they wished.

AND, if you use Creative Commons or something similar, list it on EVERYTHING!

Thank for putting together a good piece. 
Reply
:iconsakuratenshi101:
SakuraTenshi101 Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I've never had anything stolen from me, however, I did recently find that someone was using an old picture of one of my OCs' as their user image XD I found it flattering. However, I do hope that I won't have to deal with art theft, but I'm sure I'll eventually have to. So thank you for putting up these tips! It helps with preparation for the future!
Reply
:iconblackenedhonestyart:
blackenedhonestyart Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for the advice, Kendra. I really appreciate it. :]
Reply
:iconshedares:
SheDares Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Some great advice here! Thank you for posting :meow: :heart:
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   Photographer
You're very welcome!
Reply
:iconshedares:
SheDares Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
:aww:
Reply
:iconcalluna-draconis:
Calluna-Draconis Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you for sharing this! I found my art in the oddest places... and of course without source.
Very helpful~
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   Photographer
Sorry to hear that, but I'm glad these tools helped you to discover it!
Reply
:iconkalmarn:
kalmarn Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014
I tried Google Search with one of my "potentialy popular" images and I got hit... not only one :( And, of course, no one asked for using it.
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   Photographer
I'm sorry to hear that. It's a strange feeling when you find your work used without permission.
Reply
:iconkalmarn:
kalmarn Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014
Yeah it is, But I try to watch this from its bright side: I'm a begginer, so in some way I'm a little proud that mine pic was chosen :)
I'll be wiser later.
Reply
:iconasiaonemoon:
AsiaOneMoon Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the advices!
Reply
:iconkendra-paige:
Kendra-Paige Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014   Photographer
You're welcome!
Reply
:iconlatestarter63:
LateStarter63 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I have occasionally searched for my images on the web. On two occasions I have found one of my portraits being used by an artist (one an Indian on the Fiverr website, one on a Lithuanian website) to advertise his offer to draw a portrait from a photo for a fee.  In both cases I contacted the website concerned and pointed out that the picture was stolen, with a link to my dA picture, and requested removal.  In one case(Fiverr) the website responded the next day by email and removed the person's page from the site.  The Lithuanian site has not responded and my drawing is still there. 
I do not aim to make any profit from my drawings; I draw just for my own pleasure, so any use of my drawings elsewhere is flattering. I have absolutely no quarrel with the many reposts where no false claim of ownership is made, I am credited and there is a link to it on dA.  In the two cases mentioned above I wonder why my picture is being used rather than an example of the artist's own work.  I fear that the buyer of a portrait might be disappointed if the drawing they purchase is not of the same standard.  The Indian was charging only 5 dollars (not very flattering!) but the Lithuanian wanted the equivalent of £57! 
Reply
:iconminato-kushina:
Minato-Kushina Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014
Thank you a lot for this wonderful article! :hug:

TinEye and Google Images also have add-ons for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, so it's easy to right click and search a picture. :)
Reply
:iconmisterdoe:
misterdoe Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Great info and advice. I do photomanipulations, for the most part, but my most popular DA edit is all over the web. I figure the best thing to do, since the original image is not mine, is to forward the URLs (once I collect them) and present them to the photographer. He has thousands of photos on two DeviantArt accounts, and unfortunately he's had plenty of stuff stolen, some for commercial use. 
Reply
:iconthefadedpanda:
thefadedpanda Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That's a wonderful guide, although there really is no way to prevent this so if someone has that much exposure on the internet and really cares about copyright infringement, then perhaps it's worth it. You would have to repeat this all the time.
Reply
:iconbunnyhat-j:
BunnyHat-J Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Student General Artist
1.) Have you had your work used without your permission? I searched jsut in case and it seems it's a No, and I hope to be right!
2.) What were the steps you took to handle the situation? I'd write to Deviantart to take care of the stolen art.
3.) What were the results? -Skipping since this has never happened to me-
4.) Do you have any advice for other creatives? Yes! Don't upload the full resolution (that is, don't allow it as a "Download" or allow the "full view" in the work's main page), and don't delete the first version of your works, even if you later think that they are ugly or not good enough. They're like a "history", so.. for the record!
5.) How do you personally protect your artwork? I put a url of my DA account in some place in the work and make it so it covers a small piece of it, since I don't like intrusive watermarks. I also don't upload the full resolution version, and never delete a work just in case it can be there as proof that the first version of said work is mine.
Reply
:iconbunnyhat-j:
BunnyHat-J Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Student General Artist
Thanks for this guide! I'll check every now and then just in case :D

I wonder if using a small signature in some key place is enough... What do you guys think?
Reply
:iconwaithamai:
Waithamai Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
even huge watermarks are removable if somebody really wants to remove it..
Reply
:iconbunnyhat-j:
BunnyHat-J Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Student General Artist
Then... it's enough? They're removable anyway :/
Reply
:icondanielag82:
danielag82 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
thank you for sharing :aww:
Reply
:icondivergence0:
Divergence0 Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've never been stolen from, and there's one easy way to ensure this: don't be a good artist!
I do use non-intrusive watermarks though, which might help.
Reply
:iconlordlooper:
LordLooper Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Professional Artisan Crafter
Thank you for sharing your wonderful tips.
Reply
:iconuvina:
uvina Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014
*Bookmarks and Faves* This is so useful, thank you so much!
Reply
:iconchill13:
chill13 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Update!  Dude!!!!!  I just did the Google search on a few of my pictures and have already found several things out there I never authorized!!!!  This is crazy!
Reply
:iconchill13:
chill13 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a fantastic tutorial!  Useful to all artists in any media.  

I am such a small-time artist I would never in my wildest dreams have imagined that someone would steal my work.  But it has surprisingly happened a few times.  Both pictures and once an entire story (bits of dialogue and original characters included) I had no idea what to do at first.  Like you said, I was both flattered and irritated at the same time.  Weird feeling.  

But just talking to them nicely worked in all cases so far.  Also like you said, I don't think people realize what they're doing a lot of the time.  They just like a picture and want to share it, not realizing that it might be hurting the original artist. 

Thank you again for this tutorial.  It's thoughtful and informative, and I certainly intend to use some of your suggestions. 
Reply
:iconwintersread:
WintersRead Featured By Owner Edited Jun 21, 2014  Student Photographer
Thank you for discussing this! I've not yet found an image of mine stolen, but this gives me a great idea of how to follow-up if I do.

As for the questions, I have not found any of my artwork to be stolen yet.
Reply
:iconanoya:
Anoya Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014   Photographer
I use a little awesome thingy called  'Search Image Everywhere' and I love it to bits. Basically does the same thing, it searches Google, Tineye, Cydral, Yandex and Baidu. =)
Reply
:iconestoriella:
Estoriella Featured By Owner Edited Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've never had my work stolen (from what I know) mainly because my art isn't good enough. and I think it would be really annoying to have to deal with it often.

1.) Have you had your work used without your permission? No, I don't think so
2.) What were the steps you took to handle the situation? If I ever did have my work stolen, I would contact the person and if they refused or ignored me, I would ask the website host to to take it down.
3.) What were the results? (Skipping)
4.) Do you have any advice for other creatives? Watermark your work and don't get angry at the person unless they're rude.
5.) How do you personally protect your artwork? I actually haven't done anything to protect my work but I definitely will now. though no one would really want to steal it
Reply
:iconlimegreenbunny:
LimeGreenBunny Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Faving for future reference...just in case. Does anyone know where there is a good explanation of the copyrighting used on this website?
Reply
:icondoodlemancy:
doodlemancy Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've had my work used without my permission several times now. For a while it would happen about once or twice a month. I'm not super popular or super talented enough for it to be a huge problem. I usually contact whoever is responsible directly. The majority of the time, they do as I ask, but some people either say they'll "just put a link back" and decide that that fixes it, or they freak out and start hurling obscenities. What's most interesting to me is that no one ever removes my signature, and it's very clearly written, and very google-able, but when I contact people they say things like "I didn't know where it came from" or "I didn't know who the artist was." :paranoid: Right. Sure. I totally, 100% believe you.

I feel like people have stickier fingers on deviantART-- this site is well-known as "FREE PRETTY PICTURES!" and since I started heavily watermarking the things I post here, it is now only a very occasional annoyance.
Reply
:iconwinndixiex3:
WinnDixieX3 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm still not good enough to get my artwork stolen but this is a very helpful article and I'm gonna put it in my faves if I may need it someday so that it's fast to find. ^^
Thanks for writing this all out! :meow:
Reply
:iconwildphoenix22:
Wildphoenix22 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very helpful information! I never knew that you could search for images that way! Thanks so much! (I'm definitely going to do some investigating now!)
Reply
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