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Art Theft & Image Angle Skewing


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Not sure if this is the right place for this. Wanted to ask if anyone has opinions on image skewing to deter art theft?

I had an incident with my artwork some time ago. I do a lot of commissions on Facebook. Someone from South Australia took my drawings and started doing the same kind of work. They convined a group of people that they were the original artist and that I was the theif. They went around reporting my posts on Facebook and also the posts by my buyers where whereever the artwork was displayed, claiming copyright infringement. Facebook keot listening to their reports and removing my work. Since a lot of those commissions were for  Facebook page banners, people were hesitant to commission me and I lost sales.

I tried communicating this to Facebook but they were absolutely unhelpful. I tried contacting a lawyer and couldn't afford to hire. What eventually solved the problem was the wonderful community that stuck up for me. I had posted a video proving my ownership of the PSDs and eventually got my reputation back. Haven't heard from them since.

TL;DR - The theif was a tracer. They din't care about low resolution or watermarks because they simply trace the work. Granted, their version of the work looked shoddy compared to mine, but somehow that still managed to achaive their goal. I don't keep a portfolio anymore, but have considered starting up a new one all of the images skewed to look like you're viewing them from an angle (I could pretty it up by putting them in some kind of 'picture frame' background that's tilted.  It's harder to show off that way, though, and I'm not sure if anyone's ever done this or how well it may deter theft. 

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I wouldn't bother altering portfolio images just to avoid art theft. The purpose of a portfolio is to show off your skill, and if you change your images you won't be able to reflect your true talent. If somehow your skewed images still look good, then what stops people from thinking those are worth stealing, too?

The truth is, if someone wants to steal your art (or trace it), there's no real way to prevent that. I think the best thing to do is just be confident that your art will be better than any imitator's, and in that way it will be clear that you are the original artist. From the stories I've heard about art thieves being unmasked, the person is usually found out to be a liar because the real artist has a strong online presence. In the cases I call recall, it was usually fans of the artist that made the distinction between the phony and the artist. If you develop a following on some kind of website, that will help you have people backing you up if another situation like this occurs.

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Singsong pretty much said it. If you post something on the internet, someone is bound to do something with it, regardless of how many measures you take to protect yourself. It's unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Also, you might want to look into DMCAs in case you find someone posting your work elsewhere without your permission. With a properly filled out DMCA (not just clicking the "report" button, this is different), companies tend to take those more seriously than normal finger pointing. It also gives you the chance to provide proof of ownership to the company in question.

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20 hours ago, SingSong said:

From the stories I've heard about art thieves being unmasked, the person is usually found out to be a liar because the real artist has a strong online presence. In the cases I call recall, it was usually fans of the artist that made the distinction between the phony and the artist. If you develop a following on some kind of website, that will help you have people backing you up if another situation like this occurs.

Very good point, actually. Might be a good reason to just re-open and start updating my old portfolio, not let fear keep me from posting. 

And thank you Kami for the suggestions about DMCA =)

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  • 3 weeks later...

@Hare

It probably wouldn't help find tracers (although they do provide take-down request services and template legal documents that might help deal with them)... but I've seen a couple people on Artists Beware recommend a site called CopyPants which provides services to artists for detecting and resolving theft cases. Maybe that could help?

I'm not an artist myself so I've never used it and can't really speak to whether it is any good, but they seem to have a free plan that might be worth checking out if you continue to run into trouble. Good luck!

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