Art theft on the Internet, what to do if it happens to you.

What to do when someone steals your art on the Internet.

Through out the years it has become apparent to many folks that the Internet is much the same as the “Wild West.” Especially when it comes to theft of art. There are many starving artist out there. There are many really good illustrators, photoshop pros, and photographers too. They run into their art being stolen more than peoples profile pictures being taken and used as false profiles on dating sites. However this post is for those people too.
So what do you do when you come across a site that has some of your work on it? Or when you come across a profile on whatever site that is using your work illegally?

There are several ways to handle the situation. There are pros and cons to each way.

Before trying anything, you should first and foremost have your art copyrighted. Even if you are putting a watermark on your images, you still need to have it registered. You have 90days to do this once you realize your art has been stolen. It is a little time consuming to do this. It sucks, but do it. You can have all your art registered for a fee plus postage. Do this first. Here is a step by step site that can help http://www.ehow.com/how_2063860_copyright-artwork.html

Way One: Messaging/email
Fist thing most people do is contact the person displaying their art. For example say you are on facebook or myspace and you come across several of your pieces of work from the same profile. Deciding to contact that person seems to be the easiest way to resolve the issue.

The biggest mistake most people make when deciding to handle it this way is they send a harsh nasty email/message. Don’t do that. Send a nice message, something friendly but directly to the point. Short and sweet.

Here is an example message, “Hello Person I’ve never met before. How are you? I couldn’t help but notice that you have several pieces of my deer eating a monkey photos/artwork. These are rights reserved photos/artwork. I am sure you weren’t aware of that because the watermark stating as such has been removed. Would you please have the kind courtesy to remove them?”

One of several things happens next.
1) You don’t get any kind of response.
2) You receive a message saying, “how do I know these are yours and that your not lying?”
3) You receive a nasty message telling you to go do odd and unnatural things to yourself.
4) You receive a very polite and nice message telling you they didn’t know it was your art.
5) You receive a very polite and nice message telling you they didn’t know it was your art and they will immediately remove it.

#1 and #3: #1 simply won’t respond. #3, says it all for itself. You know you’ve run into a brick wall with these two.

#2 Do not fall for this line of BS! What that person is saying is that they think your lying. Um, no. They might even ask you to prove that this is your art. The only way you can do that is by sending them originals, this is a TRAP. That person then can easily claim they are the original artist if you send them any of your original work. Do Not Deal with this person any more regardless of what they are saying. Refer to “Way Two.”

#4 Check back with this person to see if they removed the art. Chances are they did not, nor do they intend to. If they have not removed the work, this means This person is a backstabbing, knifing, manipulative person and will become your worst enemy. This person is likely to always respond to you in a nice easy going way. This is the worst kind of person to deal with. At least with type 1,2, and 3 you know where you stand. #4 will lie and lie and lie and then lie some more. If you are not careful this person will follow you around the Internet and steal every single piece of art they can get there grubby little fingertips on. This has happen to me personally. They not only will continue to steal your work out of spite, they will painstakingly remove your watermarks and put their name on them. These people suck the most. If they have not removed your work within a day or two, Do Not make the mistake of trying to reason with them. Its critical for you to refer to “Way Two.”

#5 very rarely ever happens but people who approach the subject this way are always hoping that will be the result. If your fortunate enough to have had an artist steal your work, this MIGHT be the response. But as we all know, most artist don’t steal other peoples work. Not to say it doesn’t happen from time to time, but say they thought it was a public domain image or Creative Commons license, then yeah, they probably will respond with #5.
This is normally not the case. You are most likely to end up with #4 and #2.

Way Two: Shut them down
If you are on a site like myspace or facebook, trying to contact myspace or facebook will take you a very long time. Your best option for myspace is to find out who hosts the persons images. If it is photobucket you are in luck! Contact photobucket and explain to them the situation. You will want to include in your email to them large sizes of your work or originals. Put your watermark on them if you have not already. You may also want to save jpegs in low resolution. Photobucket will not steal these, you just want to show to them that the images are yours. Photobucket will respond promptly to you and they will remove the images from the persons photobucket account. If the person continues to violate photobuckets terms of services, photobucket will delete their account. Also you will want to include the direct url to the photos/art that is stolen. This is very simple; Go to persons profile and find image that was stolen. Right click image. Go to Properties. The url address is there. Copy that address.

Unfortunately that only works if the person is using photobucket. Other image hosting sites are not as easy to deal with. Plus what do you do when the person stealing your work turns their profile private? Eek, your up a creek because you no longer have access to the url. All image hosting sites want a direct link to the image in question.

The second problem with this is that the person can easily start a new photobucket account and re upload your work there. They can always easily save the images under a different name, so it becomes very hard to track down your work with them to have it removed.

This is unfortunate, but in this case you will have to contact the site the work is displayed on. Rather its myspace, facebook, deviant art, a dating site, whatever site it is, You must contact the site. That is the only way you are going to get your art taken down. If you messaged the thief, then they are going to know it was you that had there profile removed. They will hate you and so will everyone they’ve ever known. That’s the thing about most people, see, it doesn’t matter that the person stealing was out of line and completely wrong, their friends will not see it that way and will do everything in their power to justify their actions. You end up being at the short end of the stick.

The other crappy thing about that is the thief and their friends sometimes will become “trolls” seeking revenge. They will try to hunt you down on the net and every little thing you do they will report you to whatever site you are on even if you have not violated any terms. Blogger is a good example of that one. If you have a blog on blogger, the person can report abuse on you. Blogger will freeze your account and you have to go through a lengthy process to get it recovered. In the past it could take up to weeks even months to have your blog recovered. They have a new system now that is more effective and can have your blog recovered in an hour. That is if you have unrightfully been reported.

Ebay, Etsey, or any site similar, I would recommend you contacting the site instead of dealing with the person because they are selling your work, not just using it illegally. They are profiting off of your hard work! Its not worth dealing with people like that on any level.

Way Three: Ignore it
The third option is to ignore art theft all together. Some people do this. I am not one of them. When I asked a friend about this some years ago, her response to me was, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” I suppose if you can live with that then more power to ya. 🙂

I welcome any other input to this growing problem as it effects not only Art but words as well. People have just as many issues with their blogs being stolen. I am not that great of a writer, Thank goodness I don’t have to be! So I have never run into that problem, but I know a handful of folks that have.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. How much house can I afford
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 08:43:29

    are you on linkedin?

    Reply

  2. two parts whimsical one part peculiar
    Apr 21, 2011 @ 10:12:17

    No, I am not on linkedin, but I did look it up. It looks like a good site! Thank You!

    Reply

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ALL Images, Illustrations, Photos Are Copyrighted BY K.T.A and MAY NOT be authorized for use in any way without consent of K.T.A . Written Permission required for use of any images, photos, illustrations, and material. THAT includes Writing! (Unless otherwise stated)
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