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Recently, some of my artworks were stolen and used in t-shirt design competitions. Thanks to everyone helping out, the problem was quickly resolved. In case it happens to you, I've written a tutorial based on my own experience: What To Do If Your Art Is Stolen. I used a Creative Commons license for the blog entry so that anyone can use it for educational purposes. Here are some excerpts. :)

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Regarding copyright law:

- Copyright literally means "the right to make copies (of a creative work)", but actually includes many other rights such as the right to be credited as the creator, the right to make money from the work, and the right to create derivative works.
- You automatically own all the copyrights to your work from the moment of creation. Even if you don't place a copyright notice on it. You own these copyrights until you sell, lease, or give them away to the public, person, or institution of your choosing.
- Copyright law does not protect any idea, only the execution of an idea. So you can't copyright the style or subject of a drawing, only the drawing itself.
- Some unauthorized uses may be considered "fair use", meaning it was used for personal use, education, satire, or critique, and it wasn't used for profit or in a way that would harm the commercial value of the original work.

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On assessing the damage done:

- Which copyrights were violated?
Use your knowledge of applicable copyright laws.

- How many times?
Quantify the evidence you've gathered.

- Who is responsible?
Someone famous or unknown? A big or small company? If this is someone very famous, or if it's a very big company, they have greater responsibility. Here's another article on design theft with a practical discussion of this.

- Did it seem intentional and malicious?
If someone did it more than once, it probably wasn't accidental.

- Was it done for profit, and did you receive credit?
You should probably be most concerned about people making money off of your work, or claiming your work as their own.

- Can any instances be considered "fair use"?
Remain objective enough to ensure that "stolen" is right word to describe your situation.

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My statement on sharing my art online:

I am not afraid to post my artwork on the Internet, and I am not afraid of technologies which allow people to easily remix, copy, and share creative works. These technologies helped me build my art reputation online, and it was my reputation that helped me prove I am the original creator of the stolen artworks.

I am happy to share my images online without much of a watermark, in spite of (rare and easily remedied) incidents such as this, because I am happy to let people enjoy a good view of my artwork. I am happy to share my music online, with free downloads, because I am happy that people enjoy my singing and songwriting. This will not change. I refuse to let one person's actions steal the joy I find in making and sharing my creative work.
Add a Comment:
sensory-chaos Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014
Would it be okay if I coloured some of your images for my own personal use?
W-64 Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for sharing this~!

It's so hearthwarming to see there's still good hearted people that cares...:happycry:
3pOTuKa Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013  Student
What can I do
someone created an account with the same name as mine
just put 0 instead of O
copied the picture of my account and also has stolen my drawings
([link]) false account
[link] my account
please help
feanne Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
So strange! Report to deviantart admin :(
3pOTuKa Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013  Student
yeah, I did and they deleted all my drawings and my profile picture from the false account in 5 minutes :D thanks
variations Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Professional
Thank you for sharing!
feanne Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2013  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for reading and I hope it helps :)
GRACE-MAY216 Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2012
Hi! I was just wondering would you mind if I got your picture of the Secret Garden Key tattoo'd? If you have any objections it's ok, I was just wondering because it's absolutely beautiful and I've been after a key that would fit in with a fairy typed theme. You're very talented.

Thanks! x
feanne Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
No problem, go ahead :D would love to see a photo after!
Gymnart Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice writing! Very educational. :thumbsup:
ChiakiNeko Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2012   General Artist
Thank you for the information! This may be helpful to me later. :)
feanne Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
You're welcome :)
feanne Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks for reading guys! The artworks that were stolen from me were originally posted here on DA. So I think we should all be aware of this issue. :) However, let's not be too fearful-- for every one person who may rip off our work, there are hundreds who will support us as the original artists. That's from my own experience. :)
cogwurx Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Thank you for sharing this!
Nokadota Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2012  Professional General Artist
This always scares me, and I haven't had it happen to me (yet). I'm bookmarking your article though.
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