Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
It seems that there is a terrible misconception going round DeviantART and I decided to share my opinion on that matter. The hype about Copyright And Copyright Infringement on DeviantART took on a extensive scale within the last years. A lot of people overreact when someone allegedly has committed "art theft". Maybe that's one of the reasons why many people get more and more wary on the matter. It's sufficiently known what is falling under Copyright Infringement. This article makes clear what is not.


Not long ago I published a poll out of curiosity asking the people :bulletblue: how many deviations from other artists they have you stored on their computers. The big majority merely keeps a very small number of pictures. So far there is nothing wrong with that but a considerable number of people commented that they feel not to be entitled to "own" a copy of someones work unless the download option is enabled. Some artists even said they don't want other people to save their pictures on the ground that would be stealing. Being slightly confused I started another poll and asked: :bulletblue: Storing images from DA: Copyright violation or not? to find out how many people are out there believing storing artworks from other artists is stealing. The result was startling. 9% of the voters believe storing is fine only when a download was provided. Another 8% believe that storing pictures from the web is art theft or close to art theft unless they are marked as stock or free resources.

Dear DeviantART family, I know many of us are worried about the Copyright of our creative work and it's totally reasonable and advisable to take care of that. There was a lot of drama in the past about Copyright Infringement and there still is, how to protect our art from it and how to deal with so called "art thieves". On not so rare occasions people got and get affronted, accused, harassed, doomed and whatnot by angry deviants for committed "art theft". Are we THAT paranoid now that even storing an image on your computer for convenient VIEWING makes one an "art thief"? We are NOT talking about redistributing, claiming it your own, selling, modifying, editing or otherwise using without permission here! I am getting right to the point and provide you with the DeviantART rules:

I'll explicitly clarify now why storing images from DeviantART or anywhere else from the web is in no way a copyright violation or "art theft".

"I don't agree that my posted images are copied and saved."

If that is the case you never should post your images ANYWHERE in the world wide web!!! Why are you posting your images and making them publicly accessible? Think about the answer. The main reason why we post our creative work here is - we want to SHARE it with others. What means sharing? Sharing means that others click on your deviations to view them, to enjoy them, to be inspired by them, to enjoy them again, to leave a feedback on them. During that process the pictures will be AUTOMATICALLY saved in the cache of your hard drive, if you want it or not. What you load into your browser resides on your computer and it's been downloaded and stored. The only reason why one would take one more step and put these pictures into a specific folder on their hard drive is patently obvious: to find them easily again for later viewing and enjoying.

"If the artist doesn't offer the image for download, I am not allowed to copy it to my hard drive."

There is also misunderstanding about the download option. What is it for? During the submission process you are asked if you want to allow the download of the original full-sized image. This option makes sense if you want to display a resized version as the deviation fullview for faster loading but also want to provide a larger version with higher resolution. Many people don't understand that system and keep the download option enabled even if the displayed image and the downloadable image are exactly the same size. But what happens when you click on the download button? You will be linked to the original image source on one of DA's image storing servers.


You drive me crazy by Yasny-chan


Downloaded Image:

What I want to say is that an enabled download option doesn't imply anything concerning the permission to copy an image. At least not on DeviantART. In both cases, loading a deviation page and loading merely the image embedded into the deviation page, the picture is (down)loaded into your browser. So if you really believe that saving an image from the web or DeviantART is stealing then so is downloading one.

"Me posting my images doesn't mean that anyone has the right to own a copy from any of them."

Saving a copy from an image doesn't mean I OWN the image. The ownership and the copyright is STILL with the artist who originally created the image. The artist keeps all rights at all times, that's a simple fact. Or would you say DeviantART "owns" your images because they are stored on their servers???

Read FAQ #226: Does deviantART own my art?

And my previous question again: Why do you post images in the world wide web if you don't want to share them? There are probably a lot of people who create their art for fun and mainly for themselves and are not keen on becoming a popular and widely accepted artist but in case that you ARE interested that people remember your name and recognize your artistic style I recommend that you encourage your audience to store and collect your works of art and display them as desktop backgrounds and even print them out so that they may be advertised and spread around the world.

"If you really like an artist's work you can bookmark the page or add it to your favourites collection."

Is there a distinct difference between saving by bookmarking and faving an image and saving by copying it to your hard drive? Basically not. Both methods are intended for later reviewing of the picture. But there is an important advantage of the copying method: if you save the online destination address of your favourite images it's possible that you lose them because the owner can remove them from the web. If that happens it's unlikely that you will find the respective images again or even will remember what exact images they were in the first place. So better keep your favourite images offline on your hard drive to make sure not to lose them. Oh, and create folders for easier and faster finding!


  • Don't post your images in the web if you don't want them copied and saved.
  • By uploading a picture on a website you agree that others can view it AND download/save it.
  • Be aware that an image is already stored on the hard drive when it's loaded into a web browser.
  • If someone saves a copy of your artwork that doesn't mean they "own" it.
  • An enabled download option is no approval to save a picture to your hard drive.
  • Sharing your artworks with others is the reason why we are here.
Add a Comment:
downoffthedragon Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2013
Some social media websites have it as part of their terms of agreement that if you upload your artwork to their site, they are allowed to use or sell your work as they see fit without compensating you or even letting you know!
DaniloFuckYea Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2011
share art is not problem, the problem resides when someone say "no, thats mine!"

I dont care if others pick my art, but it is MY ART.
renaboo Featured By Owner Aug 13, 2011  Student Photographer
I do not know why people are claiming that merely downloading the work is "art theft." That is a bit extreme... and unreasonable, as this article states, because they posted it here to share in the first place.

Personally, if I see a piece that I am inspired by, I download it in order to achieve ease of viewing for the future (rather than "spamming" my bookmarks menu.) For me, browsing through a folder of really top-notch works provides me the motivation to get creative.

Now, when someone downloads that work, re-uploads it, and claims it as their own (which is seen all too often here on DeviantArt), THEN an art theft has occurred, and proper steps need to be taken. No artist likes seeing a thief gain recognition through a stolen piece. :disbelief:
lorddelta Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2011
Good article.

Though it makes one stop and think; no wonder some people put up with such idiocy when it comes computer files (DRM etc)
SpacialVortex Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
I have lots of pictures i've saved to my computer over the years from here but i only do that because i like the pictures or works i have no intention of claiming them as my own or editing them is that really such a big deal?.

I'm not an artist myself in fact i'm pretty bad at drawing but i come on here to view and enjoy the work of other artists but that's it and if people don't want their stuff to be taken IN ANY WAY then don't post it publicly on the internet. Seriously i think that is one of the most stupidest things i've EVER heard anyone come up with, i mean if saving something on your computer is theft then fuck me it looks like everyone on this website is a thief then :lol:

Grow up people and i refer to what i said about posting your stuff on the internet, if you don't want it taken DON'T POST IT AT ALL nuff said :|
Spamkiller Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh, come on, if that's copying I'm a fucking thief! :facepalm:

I totally agree with you. The fact that some people think they're not allowed to download an image if the download button is not enabled, and that some artists REALLY think that would be art theft, are the reason why in my copyright disclaimer I added this line: Download for personal, non-reproductive, non-commercial use, is allowed.
M-G-Studio Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
I agree. There have been times when I saw stolen images from a different artist online and the only way I knew whose it was, was the fact that I had their saved artworks on my hard drive so I then knew whose art was stolen and contacted them so they know. Whenever saving artworks I always write the artist's name beside the title, which makes it easier to find the artist in the future.
Raindroplover Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011
Very interesting!
Do you think it is okay to feature DA-artists on my blog if I credit the artists?
Kaykayiscrazy Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Well said, Lilly :)
Ecchikun Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2011  Professional Photographer
I agree 100% with this. I have saved many Artist's work on my hard drive. It doesn't mean I post it on another site and pretend to make it my own. I simply like to enjoy their work on my own time w/o having to go directly to their deviant art page. TOO many people do not sort their art in folders - it makes it hard to find art that I like. Therefore I save it in a folder with their dA name on it:)

I appreciate your time in writing this article!:)
ShilaDaLioness Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
What?! Some people consider that theft?

So when I save a picture of a well-known actor I like and maybe use it as a desktop, some people believe that's stealing? :lol:

Seriously, some people.... :iconfacepalmplz:
SpacialVortex Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2011
I like your comment :lol:
ShilaDaLioness Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, thanks :aww:
TheCandleobra Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2011
I purchase pictures sent to me by a email links! I do the same thing with wmp audio files. If I like it. I buy it, if possible.
Other people making money off my work or others work, is a BIG no no unless they have a contract.

I would also like to express my appreciation for the post of this article. It's useful and sensitive to the needs of the DA

StinaBG Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2011
I think people who does not approve of others saving their images is a bit paranoid. Why even post your images online if you are that protective of them?
In fact I think others actually saving your picture is a great honor. That just means they really like your art!
Art theft is when a person who is not the creator of a picture, or does not have the creators written permission, either:
1. Claim the image their own.
2. Use the image for commercial purposes and/or personal gain.
Do not be paranoid people, be appreciative! Or else you will just create more problems than
I also think people should allow others to post their images on websites, blogs, etc. - as long as they are linked back to the original picture.
RagingSalamence Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2011  Student General Artist
Good article, everyone can save something on the PC. But posting it on there when you didn't did?

:police::iconsaysplz:STOP IN NAME OF COPYRIGHT!
baluka44 Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Very very well written article. I never knew some people even thought that way about art theft.

GoateeGuy Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2011  Hobbyist Artist
I completely agree with the conclusions that you have come to. Why post it, if you dont want people to see it? I post my artwork online to show off my improving skill in using a computer program ot produce what I enjoy. I dont care if people save it to their hard drive....that has nothing to do with claiming it as their own work.

To draw an analogy...a distant one, but one that i think is valid enough.....Posting it online and saying "dont look/save" is like leaving furniture out on your front lawn saying "Please look but dont touch" and just leaving it alone......sooner or later someone is going to take it if you dont keep an eye out on it...aka completely destroys the point of showing it off.
iRainbow-Unicorn Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
I don't know about any other artist... but if someone were to save my art and even use it as their desktop, I would feel quite honored. And no one needs my permission for that! Really, save to your hearts content!

Now, if they want to use it on the internet, I'd prefer they'd ask my permission and link back to me... but the only thing I consider art theft is taking the credit for MY artwork, or making money off of MY artwork (like seriously, I deserve some of that $$$).
Sakkeru Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Student General Artist
Okay. What?

Saving a picture that you think is pretty and want to be able to look at later when maybe you can't get on the internet or something? In what universe is that art theft?
char-allen Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
What moron thinks that saving an image to your computer for viewing is art theft? :rofl:
331060 Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I never considered that copying. If someone wants to look at my artwork or use it as a desktop background, I would be thrilled. So long as they aren't claiming it as their own in some way, I'm pretty well happy. I, myself, rarely save stuff to my hardrive unless I'll use it for something in the future. (with the person's respective consent, of course)
Scellanis Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Yay! Yeah saving a copy is fine so you can look at again if the deviant removes it or puts it in storage or deactivates their account or something.

The problem is the ones who want to reupload it as their own work or trace/copy it and claim it to be all their own work. The reason I never offer mine for download is so that people have to work out how to remove the watermark if they want to put them on cards, t-shirts etc and sell them on ebay. Hate it when people do that.
Nya-ko Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
Good article, I must say.

If someone gets on my case about saving images from dA to my inspiration folder, I'll have to send them this way.
JAMsEye Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a complete and very interesting article. It clearly states what some tend to forget or don't always understand about computer technologies. Thanks a lot for that.

Now it'd be even more interesting to compare DeviantArt policy with that of Facebook for instance. I'm referring to your enlightening sentence: «[...] would you say DeviantART "owns" your images because they are stored on their servers???» There are cases you completely lose ownership as soon as you post artworks on certain web sites, like Facebook. I think it would have been interesting to compare both attitudes and state why DeviantArt has chosen to not turn that way.
Morisith Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I would love if people found my art good enough to save for later, I think of art theft when you upload it again on the web but are not the original creator.. altered or not. (offcourse if it's free stock that's a different story :)).
The-Phoenicorn Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Professional General Artist
Personally I don't like the term "image theft" I have saved many pieces of art on to my computer so I can refer back to them at a later time. Usually they have an interesting brush stroke technique or render lighting in a unique way.

I think a new term should be developed like"image fraud" when a person fraudulently post up a stolen image and claims it to be theirs.

I feel that "image fraud" is much clearer and even sounds worse than image theft. I have no objection with people taking screenshots of my work and storing it on their computer so long as they don't directly use it with out my permission.
JAMsEye Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I for one am not even certain "image fraud" is clearer. What you described — and what all the "image theft" is about — simply is "impersonation". Claiming to own someone else's work is impersonation and is subject to legal prosecution in many countries. And impersonation covers much more than art and is the one thing to condemn.
Mysticallia Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Student General Artist
This is a very well thought out and effective article to read! :love: Thank you for sharing! :)
PurpleHope Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Nice article !
ancestorsrelic Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I would say, the must rants about art-theft are about the cases, who someone take a work from you and load it up somewhere else (or even at DA again) and then the thief is claiming to be the creator of it.
The fast as you can download something on the WWW, the fast such stupid thieves will be discovered by the community, even if the thief did some manipulations on the work like color-changing, mirroring etc. or removing signatures/watermarks.

But everyone got inspired by others, and sometimes it can be fun to recreate someone others artwork as close as possible with a new medium too. I did it, for example, here: [link]
And i will "steal" art in that way again! I often download works from DA, but only for inspiration; just the other day i found some cool creature drawn in traditional style. I want to made a 3D-model of it and i always add a "Inspired by..." or a "Based upon a work made by..." to the description of my work.
...and i use Creative Commons BY-SA for all my works.
HezuNeutral Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
The only reasons I download pictures from the Internet is because sometimes the artists delete them or store them away.. And plus I'd like to keep all my favorite pictures all together so maybe I could look at them and get inspiration to draw something original if i put all the ideas together.
NuSunt Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
i have nothing against them saving my pictures. just when they upload it on various places under their own name.
solarspawn Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
From what I have seen the only ones who are the least worried about art theft on dA are those whose art not a soul would bother stealing. It has been the tradition for centuries to emulate ~ even to take the name of the artist one emulated some centuries ago. Some mature into the real thing. Some don't. Too much restriction will ensure none do. I don't worry about any stealing my work. They would have to do far more than that to be mistaken for the real thing.
WRAMIREZOIDE Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011   General Artist
It costs 35 dollars to copyright something for real, I think a few hundred more fo register a trademark, which can encompass even more about your work. Get a job, pay for those legal documents, post artwork carelessly. anyone that pulls shit would end up in some legit legal troubles.
char-allen Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
Actually, as soon as you create a piece of work, it is copyrighted. :3
WRAMIREZOIDE Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011   General Artist
Naturally. actual documentation of this goes so much further.
char-allen Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011
I'm just saying, no one actually has to get every piece of art they make copyrighted legally. From the second the piece is begun, it is yours from start to finish. If you come across someone that is taking credit for and making a profit off of your work, and you take it to court? You're probably going to win. Period.
WRAMIREZOIDE Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011   General Artist
char-allen Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2011
You're just one of those people that disagrees for the sake of disagreeing, aren't you?
If this was going to end with "duh," why even bother responding the first time? :lmao:
orange1green Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011
i try to protect my work when i submit not because i think i am something special.only because i want to make less chaos in art.because stealing is chaos.
abi-m Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011
Excellent article, there are a lot of articles about what is art theft, but not about what isn't art theft, and you are right, if we upload pictures is because we want to share them somehow, in this case the purpose is to share art, with many trash being shared on the internet, why not share art? it can be something more positive and needed :thumbsup:
Asraniel Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011  Student General Artist
. . . . people actually say 'you cannot save to disk?' But... how am I supposed to grow my Morguefile, that sexy offline resource of inspiration and photographic reference material that I view while I draw and model? Saving work and having it, both generated and photographic, is essential to producing art of your own - not for use IN your work, but to inspire and help you learn new techniques. And if I had to search for reference photos of anatomy or the way a bloody rock looks every time I had to draw one... well, I'd go stark raving mad and waste tons of time that could be spent making art.
JAMsEye Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I have even seen artists prohibiting «saving, copying, transferring, reproducing, altering»... Serious! In all, just saving their work on dA infringes *all* of these rules. Also such silly statements would de facto make *all* of the proxy servers across the planet illegal. Nonsense. I tell you, sometimes... :facepalm:
Asraniel Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Student General Artist
:facepalm: Well, Common Sense did finally die a few years ago. I'm waiting for Logic to follow suit =_='
JAMsEye Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Bah... I'd say it's well hidden somewhere...
MolsIllustration Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
personally I hate that kind of rule too
sure the artist can say 'don't do this with my work', but simply saving the image so you can see it later? :\
how would they know/enforce it anyway? :slow: I always found that rather pretentious
Asraniel Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Student General Artist
Ja, really. I guess they'll be the first to support epic-scale Big Brother technology =_=
JAMsEye Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Pretentious... or ignoring all of what this technology is about.
HeartOfDeath Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011  Professional Filmographer
I have had a few folks take some of my images and rework them, however the few that have asked before posting it here. I honestly I find it to be a huge compliment! I would be thrilled to see my stuff as wall paper, it is almost like word of mouth advertising--something big companies wish they could buy--I love it. Now if someone was taking my stuff, putting on a site and selling it as their own--then we got a problem...
Add a Comment:

:iconlilyas: More from Lilyas

Featured in Collections

News and Journals by AkatsukiKurohana

Awesome News by namenotrequired

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
June 9, 2011


6,002 (2 today)
451 (who?)