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Picture if you will that it's an ordinary day, you're goofing off on deviantArt with nothing to do, and suddenly, right there among "Newest Art", you see IT. One of the most beautiful images you've ever seen on dA. An image that just begs you to click it and fullview it. Of course, you simply must fave it - you can't bear the thought of another minute without that gorgeous photo of Delicate Arch or that beautiful watercolor mermaid or that super-hot fanart of Jessica Rabbit somewhere on your profile.

Did you ever stop to think that maybe you're dealing with stolen art?

Probably not, but your jaw might have dropped at the suggestion - what if that awesome photo or digital painting or vector you just faved WAS stolen? Unfortunately, the Internet being what it is, there are very few ways to be completely sure any given image wasn't stolen. But here are a few tips to determining whether or not it was.

1. It's in a stupid gallery.

By a "stupid" gallery, I don't mean slightly off - photos that belong under Landscapes but ended up in Geology don't count. I'm talking about beautiful digital paintings in Fractal Art, or heartstopping candid photos in Anthro, or amazing photomanipulations in Body Art. Stuff that makes you go "what kind of idiot would put THIS in THAT gallery?" Creating a beautiful work of art, even with a camera, is not a point-click-shoot deal. It takes skill, dedication, and care. And someone with that much dedication, even if they barely speak English, is probably going to put forth the effort to make sure their beautiful work of art ends up in the correct gallery, or at least close to it. An art thief's care and dedication generally begins and ends at "will this earn me faves?" They're not nearly so concerned about what gallery their stolen art ends up in, as long as it's in their gallery and looks good.

In short: Awesome art + ridiculous gallery = probably stolen.

2. There's a watermark or website URL on it that doesn't seem to go with this deviant.

I know, this should be obvious - that is the whole purpose of watermarking, after all. But it's only obvious if you check for one; not all artists like messing up their image with a huge, obvious watermark and instead put a small one in some obscure place. If it was submitted by BobJones123 fifteen minutes ago and is signed "KLY 2005", or it has the address "" and the artist doesn't mention owning, working for the company that owns, belonging to, being affiliated with, or submitting art to "" (check their journal, just in case), it's probably stolen.

In short: Unrelated watermark/URL = probably stolen.

3. The image is very finely detailed, but the fullview or download is very small.

This mostly applies to digital art, especially digital paintings - with traditional art, the size of the scanned or photographed image may be very small compared to the original, and it would be no fault of the artist. However, digital artists don't have to scan or photograph their work in order to submit it, so they can submit it full-size. It's very, very difficult to create super-fine detail in a very small space, and most digital artists, no matter how skilled, prefer larger canvases. Besides, if they didn't like to show off, they probably wouldn't be submitting their art here; they usually want people to see and admire all their hard work in some larger format than the default, even if they don't offer the full-size image for viewing. If someone is submitting the original of a super-detailed work of digital art, that original is probably going to be at least of a decent size. And if someone is painting something of similar complexity to The Last Supper on a canvas the size of a 3x5" notecard, digitally or traditionally, odds are they're going to brag about it. If someone's submitted a beautiful, detailed digital painting the size of a postage stamp, and they're not saying anything along the lines of "Look what I did with such a tiny picture! Isn't that awesome? What a pain it was, but it was so worth it!", they're probably submitting a stolen thumbnail, or a shrunken form of a larger original (possibly shrunken to hide an annoying watermark).

This doesn't apply to pixel art, because pixel artists almost by definition work on very small scales with incredible detail, or to fractal art, because it's not only possible but easy to create a very detailed and very small fractal.

In short: Super-detailed + very small = probably stolen.

4. The deviant admits they found the art online, or in some other way indicates the image isn't original.

This is why it's always a good idea to read the artist's comments. They do this more often than you'd expect. This doesn't mean they're crediting the artists whose stock they used in a photomanip, unless they were dumb enough to directly rip off the stock. More typical is something along the lines of "i found this on photobucket and i liekd it". (Be careful you don't try to accuse clubs of art theft!)

In short: Deviant says it's not theirs = stolen.

5. There's a spatial mismatch.

This applies pretty much exclusively to photography. Say you find a beautiful picture of the Sydney Opera House submitted by 11marchboogle11. 11marchboogle11's profile states that he/she/it lives in Canada. It's a long way from Canada to Australia, so if 11marchboogle11 had made such a long trip, you'd expect to see some mention of it somewhere, whether in the Artist's Comments or in their journal. But as far as you can tell, 11marchboogle11 hasn't traveled even as far as the United States. How, then, could they have taken this magnificent photograph? The short answer is, they probably didn't. The photograph was probably taken either by an Australian or by someone who's been to Australia.

Note: Don't rely on this alone. It's entirely possible that they did mention the trip in a journal that's been buried, or in the Artist's Comments of a different photo. If they have a bunch of photos from Australia that were all taken about the same time (they should also all be from the same camera), they might very well have been on a trip and just didn't mention it in every single photo. (If the camera specifications and date taken don't show up, and it's obviously a photograph, that adds to the chance that it's stolen.)

In short: Photo taken somewhere the deviant hasn't been = probably stolen.

6: The deviant just submitted a boatload of gorgeous art. Bonus points if they've been on dA for a month or less.

This isn't necessarily a giveaway, unless combined with #1 (stupid gallery) or #7 (all over the place), and it doesn't work so well for photography. But if they're suddenly submitting a whole bunch of beautiful pictures within minutes of each other - the sort of pictures you just know took hours or days of effort for each one - either they've been creating art for months or years and are just now submitting their life's portfolio to dA (or are submitting a backlog, if they're not a new member), or they're submitting all their favorite pictures to dA heedless of whose pictures they are. And if they've been making art for a much longer time than they've been on dA, or are a long-time deviant catching up on a backlog, they'll probably mention it somewhere.

In short: Whole bunch of new images at once = possibly stolen. Whole bunch of new images from a new deviant = probably stolen.

7. Artistically, the deviant is all over the place.

They're submitting text art. Oekaki. 3D images. Traditional sketches. Digital paintings. Photomanipulations. Landscapes. Fetish portraits. Action shots. Their gallery covers so many styles and media it looks like a patchwork quilt. Now, you could be dealing with a true Renaissance artist, an extraordinary person who possesses great skill in multiple areas. You could be dealing with a dabbler, who's trying a bit of everything in an effort to find what sort of art is really "them". Or you could be dealing with an art thief. Renaissance artists are few and far between, and tend to win fame and acclaim for their abilities. Dabblers tend not to be all that good at anything, and if they are, it's probably just that one thing (unless they're a budding Renaissance artist, which is really unlikely). Art thieves download whatever looks good and submit it. Renaissance artists are very, very dedicated; they tend to take a great deal of care and time even with their scraps, and usually take a pretty long time between submissions. Dabblers aren't necessarily going to take as long, but since they're also doing their own art, they're not going to be churning it out at a blistering rate either - maybe a few a day. Art thieves might be submitting a picture a minute, if they're on a roll.

Now, it could possibly be that you just found a Renaissance artist who just joined and is submitting their entire portfolio, or one who's catching up a huge backlog. This is where #1 comes in - if all the art is beautiful or at least appealing, and it's all in the same gallery, it's probably all stolen.

In short: Art all over the place = probably stolen.

8. Even though it's all in the same category, it's stylistically all over the place.

Say you just found someone with a gallery full of beautiful digital paintings. On this one, they seem to have a really beautiful and unique way of painting fire. But this one also has fire, and it's not nearly as beautifully painted as the other one. This girl's hair is so gorgeously painted it looks like you could reach out and stroke it and it would feel silky under your hand. This girl - well, her hair is also beautiful, but it doesn't exactly look like you could stroke it and have it feel silky, and the way her eyes are drawn is totally different too. But the way the leaves of the trees behind her are painted - they're not very detailed, but their blurriness provides just the right touch of softness. But wait - in this picture, you can pick out every vein on every leaf on every tree, yet they're no closer to the front. Granted, artists do change their style sometimes, but usually not suddenly and drastically, not from picture to picture to picture, and often not without mentioning "Hey, I know this isn't my usual style, I'm trying something different". When you notice the style keeps changing, even if the medium doesn't, start checking for watermarks, and take note of how far apart the images were submitted.

In short: Style keeps changing = possibly stolen.

9. It looks like an in-game screenshot, or like it was taken directly from an anime/manga/cartoon/comic.

It probably was. There are artists on deviantArt who can make their original artwork look almost exactly like high-quality anime screenshots, or like professional comic pages. Ripped art is likely to be worse - grainy, smudged, showing visible signs of compression, etc. And shockingly, taking screencaps straight from a game or images directly from a TV show or comic, submitting them without doing a thing to them, and calling them your own art isn't allowed, unless you actually did the art for the game, TV show, or comic. See, the people in charge here like you to submit your own art. You know, stuff you actually put a little bit of thought and effort into.

In short: Looks like a screenshot = probably is.

10. The artist comments are so badly misspelled and grammatically messed-up as to be incomprehensible, or is just a bunch of meaningless gibberish - or worse yet, nothing but punctuation marks.

Creating art does require a certain amount of intelligence, and artists tend to like to brag. At the very least, they'll often identify what their deviation is a picture of, or maybe how long it took to create/write; even if they're a hopeless speller or they can't speak English, the ACs will often provide some sort of information (even if only in their native language). A lot of genuine artists do slack off on the artist comments, but combined with any of the other telltales, this can be one more hint that you're not dealing with the genuine article.

In short: Meaningless ACs = might be stolen. (Note "might be". This is the weakest indicator on the list and shouldn't be taken as proof all by itself.)

What was that? You just noticed that the beautiful picture you found and the deviant who submitted it have no few of these indicators? What can you possibly do now?

First of all, not a one of the indicators I provided (except maybe #2 and #4) are any more than circumstantial evidence. If you don't have another URL, the original artist's name, or the deviant's confession, you need more proof to report it as stolen

1. If you find another website's URL on the image, check it out. If you find someone else's name, Google it. You might find the original image that way.

2. If you think you recognize the image, or at least the artist's style, from somewhere on dA, search for it here, even if you're not sure. If you find the original image, all to the good; if you don't, no harm done.

3. The website "" is an image search engine - plug in an image URL, and it will search for that image elsewhere on the web. It's good enough to provide the original images used in photomanipulations, but it's neither bulletproof nor infallible. You're not necessarily going to find the original image this way, but if you can find a copy of the image that's older than the deviation you suspect is stolen, that's proof that the deviation isn't the original work either. (Check to make sure that any image you find this way is older!) This is especially useful for art you think was taken directly from a TV show or comic.

4. If you absolutely can't find the original work or don't have time to look, but the deviation is in an absurd gallery, report it as miscategorized. At the very least, this will bring it to the attention of the Gallery Directors and help clean up the gallery it's in, and it might be recognized as stolen by someone who knows where to find the original.

5. If you really can't find the original and don't have time to look, the deviation is in the right category, and you're still convinced it's not original, please, for the love of Fella, don't fave it, don't comment on it, don't watch the deviant, don't comment on the deviant's profile, don't note them, don't acknowledge their existence at all. Not even to accuse them of art theft. Art thieves seek attention. Don't encourage them.

I know, that was a beautiful picture I just discouraged you from faving or commenting on, but hey, it was in a good cause. Besides, dA is full of brilliant legitimate artists who aren't publishing anyone's work or profiting from anyone's labor but their own. Hunt up a few of them and fave away - they deserve it!
Add a Comment:
Donut-Draws Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Loads of people keep linking me to this and are telling me I'm a thief, even though I stream myself drawing these things. My English is fine, because I live in England, Britain, and I don't see how my style is changing that much between paintings..... How can I prove I'm not stealing? I mean, it's my signature. My username is Donut-Draws isn't it? I don't want to sound paranoid, but I also don't want to get kicked off this site because a few people read this and decided that because I'm not a very old deviant I'm a thief.... Can anyone help?
Nintendomain Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You aren't doing anything like tracing or copying as far as I can tell, so...I would say you don't have to prove anything to them. If people are attacking you, they obviously can't take two seconds to look at a gallery. 
Nintendomain Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
It would have to be a LOT of people that would have to report you. 
As for getting kicked off...I know some great artists that have been kicked by haters, but they always get their accounts back up one way or another. 
So you're good, nothing to worry about. 
Donut-Draws Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks you :meow:

I think I was being a bit weird when I wrote that... the comments stopped coming now though, thankfully ;)
Nintendomain Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Glad to hear it! :meow:
Donut-Draws Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ask-PurpleGal Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2015
yonakalovedefectmoge.deviantar… is an art thief. Here are her stolen works.


I'm very pissed at the one on top. It's my work in Tumblr, yet she copied it. Here's an another one from another artist:


Will anyone atleast tell her to delete them and stop copying other people's art? Thanks.
FuocoStella Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I am thinking these are stolen
OTA Ponies - OPEN
But can't tell. This is the only thing she has on DA and no base was used for them. Help?
Sasheth Featured By Owner Edited May 25, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Found an obvious art thief

-She has that generic anime girl avatar you see everyone using.
-The quality of her art and art style varies greatly.
-Her account is only 2 weeks old.
-Her english is pretty broken and description short.
- And one of her images… even has the signature of another artist, though the resolution on the piece is kinda low and I can't really read the sketchy writing it's still obviously not the art  thief's oh so generic name. -_-

Sadly I can't seem to find any of the original artist by the url or using hashtags that may suit the images, so I'm asking you guys if anyone here recognises any of the artist of these pieces? >.<
If not I think I'm still gonna try reporting her regardless, but having some more solid proof on my side would help.
DemonFoxProductions Featured By Owner May 17, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I also agree with Mytom101.

My art style is also constantly changing.

I'm trying to find a style I can work with.
And I honestly would NEVER steal art or use bases.
Mytom101 Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Good to know I'm not the only one. 
PawsTheKitty Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Heres an art theif.

Does anyone know how I can find the original artist of the stolen artpiece?
xmeowxmeowx123x Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Exactly the reason why I use an ugly huge watermark on my deviations =_=
RumiChan112 Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015  Student Digital Artist
(Sorry for my bad English but-)
I have a question, there is a person who uploads on a Facebook group a lot of art and said that it is hers. But the art styles are very much different so I doubted her. Some people told me that she's an art thief but since she the pictures she stolen is from Facebook so I'm not sure how to find the original artist of the drawing on Facebook, do you have any ideas to help? Thanks
winglessEnthusiast Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Sorry if this offends you, but I would like to err make it better? (I'm just a little Grammar Nazi ;u;)

"I have a question, there is a person who uploads on an Art Group on Facebook, which is a a lot and she says that it is hers. But the styles are always different so I doubt she made it. Some people told me she is an art thief but since the pictures she stole is from Facebook I'm not sure how to find the original artists here on Facebook, do you have any ideas to help? Thanks."

Mytom101 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I disagree with #7
I haven't stolen any artwork and my art style is all over the place. 
I do use bases a lot but my art style  constantly changes.  
nickdog1012 Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2014  Student Filmographer
i play a game called spiral knights and costumes are a big thing in the game so i decided to make the costume set i have my "Oc"
but i dont think its necessarily stolen cause i see people make art of there spiral knights and the creators put good ones on there facebook
so for people who took screenshots of games it really depends on if the creators mind
Blue-The-Fox Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Student Digital Artist
i would say that imo, screenshots can be a form of photography. Most photographers didnt plant the forrests or build the buildings they take images of, but they can legally display and even sell those photos if they want.
nickdog1012 Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014  Student Filmographer
AnaVH Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
I don't know, but there is a user who copies and pastes images and edits them a little in Paint... And I don't know how many, but on some he didn't get a permission or something...
fawn-bones Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014
I am scared because everytime I submit new art someone downloads it.How can I see who is downloading it??
NamiKuwata Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Unfortunately, you can`t see who is downloading it but
You can uncheck download box, so no one can download it.
Truucey Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
That doesn't work since someone can just as easily right click and Save As... to download an image.
NamiKuwata Featured By Owner Edited Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Downloading offers the original file.
Truucey Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
How so? If you download the "original file" as opposed to an exact copy of the file?
NamiKuwata Featured By Owner Edited Jul 20, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
The difference is size.For example, my original "On the Hunt" photo is 3128x2346 while on deviant art it displays 1024 pixels wide.
It will not help prevent art theft but help in other cases.
burstingspace Featured By Owner May 8, 2014
helps a lot, will use advicw!
Anton-Constantin Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
How do I organize my gallery, when I have practically only one style of art that I am uploading, and the rest is just some ancient stuff like photographs that are waiting to be deleted when I see them? 

Many people have stolen my art, even if I put my name on the side, they can just edited it out, and in my older art I didn't put any logos, or anything that would indicate towards me.

One of my drawings got really famous, and many people claim that they created it. It's not only on deviant art, it appears everywhere and no one can help me stop it... 
Cuttheshadowdemon Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2014  Hobbyist Artist
i wish art thiefts arent out there
wafflerp Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have many styles in my galleries..
but,I guess art theft also didnt open for request and commission,
or something that might open their identity.. :/
Vanshira Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Actually, I knew one that did - provided the commissioner was suitably vague in their request, he'd rip off a picture that fit and tell them he did it. Thankfully, he didn't work for real money, but still. >_<
smokesick Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This needs to be paid more attention. A lot of people lack knowledge such as this - to know how to recognize and deal with stolen art. Great article!
EmbraceDarkshade Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
all of this is why I put watermarks on all of my art! I show off my art on several websites DA, Facebook, personal Facebook, Tumblr, Behance & some on Youtube. I have a different watermark for each and only two of my sites share the same name. So if anybody googles me they may find 5 pieces of art with 5 different watermarks BUT they are all me and I can prove it. That is IF anybody can connect all these different profiles because all but two are aimed at a certain target audience.
MrEverythings Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2013
number 7 and number 8 and quite possibly soon number 6 is me... now people are gonna think i'm a fraud D:
MF99K Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Student Filmographer
"taking screencaps straight from a game or images directly from a TV show or comic, submitting them without doing a thing to them, and calling them your own art isn't allowed, unless you actually did the art for the game, TV show, or comic"

In spore you pretty much make everything in the game yourself. So it kinda applies, right?
Vanshira Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
...I'm not really sure how it would apply to such games as Spore, to be honest with you. You might want to look into Spore's EULA.
Nameda Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Professional General Artist
interesting article but there are exceptions *lol*
I have photomanips in my gallery,a diversity of photos, digital drawings, even a few traditional artworks. I have my Nameda on most of my artworks but on some is still Orion Designs, beside the manips which sometimes still have the original camera data of the background creator, I have have 2 different camera types in my gallery... does this make me an art thief? surely not But yep I still havent completly found my style. ;) And I lastly found a relative new deviant who uploaded 100ds of photos, and they seem to be his as the style is pretty consistent as are the camera data.
My newer or edited works are 800 width only.. i too often found my art in russian blogs, cropped and even used commercially.
Oh and tin eye is bad. Try google reverse search. I hardly found anything with Tin Eye yet loads with Google reverse search
I think those people who use dA to take art and upload it elsewhere as wallpaper, commercial background etc are much worse
cblue Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Great article... love your logic.
Btw, I found this featured here: [link]
Foozma73 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013   Photographer
What is the best way to find out if someone has stolen your artwork?
Vanshira Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
One =Kara-a wrote this tutorial: [link]
Foozma73 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013   Photographer
Thank you so much!
SingingFlames Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Very helpful and informative article! Thank you for sharing it! :)
Vanshira Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
...I have to ask, who featured this where? Because up until yesterday, my most recent fave on this was sometime in December, and all of a sudden, I have ten new faves in two days.
SingingFlames Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Oh, sure. I found it here: [link]. Oops, usually when a journal/written deviation is featured, the new writer informs their source. Maybe he/she forgot to. ^^;
LMTYL Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It was mentioned in this [link]
And reading this made me paranoid, because my style tends to all over the place.
Vanshira Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Well, you can't report someone just because their art is all over the place. You need more proof than that. =P
PinkMelodii Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That is a very helpful tutorial
Sokew Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well... after reading this article, I found that site you mentioned where you can type in images URL, and I bookmarked it on Google Chrome. Later, I found this deviant who looked suspicious, so then I copied one of her newest deviation's URL's and pasted it into the search engine in Tineye Reverse Image Search, and 34 results popped up! It turns out that its a base that she was using, and she didn't give proper credit in her description, she only says that "I find this, she's naked with no warnin" as the only hint that she used a base! Then, if you read some comments posted on her deviation, she tells someone that her sister drew it and she colored it.
After going back onto the site to try and find the original, I see that almost none of the people who used the base gave credit to the original maker! Her deviation page is here [link] Search this link [link] and see all of the images she has stolen in the past. Match that up with some of her current artwork's experience- level, and there is a hugee gap.
Cold hard proof right there.
Also showing up on that deviation URL search is an image linked to what I suspect is a porn site :O I didn't dare click on the link, but judging by the picture itself and the language used in the link, its safe to say its probably from there.
Feel free to check it out!! :heart:
lune101 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
After reading this i know how to find art thieves ^^ some of my art was downloaded, so I'm worried someone might have stolen my art...
TheGeekling Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Student General Artist
Same here.
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