Art Theft and deviantART

Perkel, Daniel. “Making Art, Creating Infrastructure: deviantART and the Production of the Web.” 2011. Web. Retrieved Oct. 12 2014.


I would like to focus specifically on chapter seven of this dissertation, Sharing, theft, and deviantART’s Share Wars. Mr. Perkel examines the relationship of art and the internet in a world where creative outputs can be shared over the web instantly, specifically on the art community website, deviantART. He begins with a brief introduction of the “sharing tools” that were launched on deviantART in August of 2009.  These tools allow the public who is viewing the artwork that has been posted to be shared across other websites and social media. There are a few options such as HTML and CSS embedding which allow the sharer to include the link to the original artwork when posting the artwork somewhere else. Many social media websites also have tools like this (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr). Perkel interviewed a young artist who was a victim of art theft thanks to the “sharing tools”. He goes on to suggest that permission be required, rather than suggested, when sharing artwork online.

As a young artist myself, with an account on deviantART as well, I see this as a valuable reference. As I read through this chapter, I had a few questions that I had cleared up. I at first I found the idea of sharing work online ambiguous; it is hard to draw the line on who owns what when “fan art” is on the rise. To give true credit, you must refer to the original artist which could be anyone from a large company to a small no name artist. Then there is the question of whether you give credit to the artist who “borrowed” a certain style or character. Fan art specifically is a large issue with many layers.

Original art, however, is a more straight forward issue. When one takes their art, completely original and from their minds, and places it on the internet they must realize that it is susceptible to theft. Sure, anybody can right click on your artwork and copy it. Yes, you can watermark it or put your signature on it in a place it can’t be removed without ruining the image. However, as discussed in the dissertation, not everyone wishes to put marks like those on their work. So how do you protect your work? Commercial use is another issue that has come up that creates a problem with copyrights. Mugs, dog tags, tattoos, and such that incorporate stolen work have popped up all over the place in recent times. How does one control the distribution of art that has been taken without permission?  Of course, with permission it is a matter of money and there is clear consent to use work put online. It is when there was no permission asked that there is concern. Is there truly a way to regulate the trafficking of art online? As an artist who posts work online, I must take into consideration these issues in order to protect myself and the integrity of my work.