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Beware of Chain Letter Style Panic Journals

Journal Entry: Mon Apr 7, 2014, 9:51 AM


There is currently a nasty little rumor going around that someone started in their journal.

The message is basically something like;

On 21 of may, deviantart will be deleting all accounts. Not plz accounts. accounts ,  But just all name-wasted accounts, or accounts that we think are fake, or that are useless. We are doing this to prevent something that could possibly may happen in the future. If we find this message on your deviantID, journal, etc. We will know that your not fake.

Thank you for listening

-deviantart staff 



This message is complete garbage Please don't get sucked into the panic of spreading the journal because it's a complete hoax started by someone either to simply cause panic or to see how far it would be spread by the gullible.


There appears to be a fair amount of misunderstanding on the subject of stock resources so what I would like to do today is attempt to clarify several issues which are of importance to the artists who generously provide stock resources to the public for use and hopefully dispel the confusion and misinformation which is beginning to circulate.

The first issue at hand is in regards to your personal stock terms

Your Personal Stock Terms

Officially deviantART maintains only one "automatic" restriction and that is "No Commercial Use" and that particular restriction can easily be overridden by the actual stock provider.

As far as official policy is concerned each stock resource provider is free to attach any Terms of Use, restrictions or requirements that they see fit and our moderation staff will do the best we can to help you enforce your rules when you need that sort of assistance.

We only ask a few things from you in return;

  • Place your terms of use right on the deviation page so someone can't miss them.
  • Make your terms of use simple, straightforward, clearly written and understandable.
  • Don't use terms which are vague or open to interpretation.
  • Try to politely solve problems with artists not following your terms yourself before seeking staff help.

In the event that you believe someone has failed to follow your personal terms of use for a resource used in a deviation submitted to deviantART and you have attempted to get that artist to correct the problem and given them a reasonable amount of time in which to make the correction.

If someone has ignored your personal stock terms of use and they do not respond to your requests for correction within a reasonable time frame you may contact our staff at the deviantART Customer Service Center for assistance. Providing that your terms of use are fair and reasonable our staff will do their best to assist you.

Does Violation of Your Personal Stock Terms Equal Copyright Infringement?

The short answer to this one is "NO"; a violation of any of your personal rules for use does not necessarily create a situation involving copyright infringement.

A violation of your terms is certainly a problem and you CAN get assistance for it but please do not report it as copyright infringement and do not use the DMCA copyright infringement web form in an attempt to have the violating work removed as infringement. 

To properly seek assistance with violations of your stock rules file a general "Policy Inquiry" customer service ticket found under the Copyright & Etiquette Administration section of the contact menu (this is a section which collects general tickets of all subjects so there may be a bit of a wait due to volume) and simply title your inquiry something clear (and not copyright related).

In your ticket you should take a few moments to briefly explain which terms of use were violated and if possible show us or explain to us where you tried to get this person to correct their error and we'll review. As long as the terms of use are clear and straight forward, like a requirement for crediting or linking back, we can assist you with them- and to be perfectly transparent there are some terms of use, like a general requirement for notification, which we can't assist with because we cannot verify all possible means of contacting you for that notification.




Matters Concerning Archives

Wed Oct 24, 2012, 2:56 PM
As many of you know, archive file types represent a means to collect together a number of computer files and package them together for the purpose of backup, to transport them to some other location, or simply to compress them so that they take up less space. Many of you here in the deviantART community who offer stock resources, applications, themes and other desktop customization options are all very familiar with them and use them extensively, whether your file type of choice be .zip, .rar, or any one of another dozen options.

Depending on how regularly you submit and what sort of file type you use when you do so you may or may not have noticed a change- that change being that submissions with file types ending with .exe are no longer being accepted during the the submission process and if you've attempted to submit an archive file which was password protected you've noticed that those protected files are also being rejected during submission (although 'normal' archive files without a password are accepted just as always).

Both of these changes are relatively recent and both are related to a brief mention in the Site Update posted on May 31st. The mention was brief at the time and lacked detail, which was a deliberate choice due to the circumstances, mentioning only that, "We have made some changes to the allowed file types in categories where members generally upload downloadable files, such as skins and themes categories."

The lack of the customary detail in this particular portion of the site update was due to the fact that it referred directly to profiles being used to deliberately submit .exe files or .exe files contained in archive files which would be presented as a theme or desktop customization but which in fact were malware; files which would install viruses, worms or other malicious software which could damage or disrupt the operation of your computer.

The submission of these infected file types had been occurring for a period of months and we had been attempting to address the problem using various methods and means while watching how the individuals responded to our efforts. Ultimately in May of this year, after watching the individuals responsible adapt their tactics and continue to place infected files on the site, it became obvious that we could no longer avoid the one defense which we had been trying to avoid- namely disallowing any file type ending in .exe as well as a few other related file extensions.

The act of disallowing .exe files did successfully what none of our efforts was able to do; it blocked the vast majority of the infected files which had been steadily flowing into the customization galleries. We are certainly aware that disallowing new submissions of .exe files has inconvenienced artists who are trying to offer legitimate desktop customization resources and we are just as upset about this as the artists affected but under the circumstances we were left with no other effective choice and we encourage those artists affected to do their best to work around or within this new restriction.

Another unintended casualty in this particular battle has been stock resource providers. For years some stock resource providers are submitted their resources in archive files protected by password which they made available for sale or under specific conditions under which they would give you the password for access. Unfortunately archives which are protected under password cannot be checked to see what sort of files are inside and that means that not only can our systems not check for the restricted file types it also cannot subject the password protected archive to any virus scanning.

Because the password protection blocks our efforts to check the archive for malware we were forced to disallow the submission of any archive file type which was under password protection. We understand that this is a great inconvenience and this disrupts a system that many artists have had in place for years and this truly does represent a situation where the few have caused a disruption for the many but it was something which could not be avoided as we moved forward with protecting all members from these sorts of infected deviations.

While we are currently rejecting the submission of .exe and password protected archive files we will not be automatically removing any of these files which were submitted previously. While individual files which have an issue or a problem could be removed by our staff there is no reason to report any existing deviation simply because it is an executable or simply because it is password protected.

I'd like to reassure all artists that as we move forward and as we continue to maximize security and the safety of downloadable files that we always try our best to make certain our efforts cause as little impact to you, the artist, as possible.




Cyberbullying and Your Deviations

Journal Entry: Wed Jun 20, 2012, 2:42 PM


The term "cyberbullying" was first coined and defined by Canadian educator and anti-bullying activist Bill Belsey, as "the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others."

While the actions which make up cyberbullying can vary depending on who you are talking with or what website you are on at the time, as far as we here at deviantART are concerned the act of cyberbullying involves a range of behavior from hostile and aggressive communications, to threats, sexual remarks, hate speech, ganging up on victims by making them the subject of ridicule or humiliation.

The practice of cyberbullying is also not limited to children, when perpetrated by adults toward adults these same behaviors are sometimes referred to as cyberstalking or cyberharassment but regardless of what name you attach to it, cyberbullying has grown into an increasing problem since the behavior was first identified and sadly we have observed that the deviantART community has begun to be used as a platform for these undesired behaviors.

While the type of abusive behaviors which make up the majority of cyberbullying cases have always been prohibited by the deviantART terms of service as well as the deviantART etiquette policy what we have seen over the last couple of years are attempts at what could be called "cyberbullying-by-proxy".

What we call cyberbullying-by-proxy is a situation where rather than directly confront a victim, a bully instead uses a deviation, journal, Group or blog in an attempt to publicly humiliate their intended target or to otherwise direct negative attention towards their victim with the intention of causing other people to do their bullying and tormenting for them.

Deviations which are used in cyberbully-by-proxy attempts typically target their victims in one of several ways, the primary manner involving the taking and publishing of screenshots. These screenshots can display private notes, deviations, or public commentary such as comments or journals and often contain demeaning statements in the descriptions, mocking annotations directly on the screenshot or sometimes both. Many of these screenshots are the result of deliberate efforts of the bully to "bait" an overreaction or dramatic (and therefore amusing) response from their intended target just for the purpose of taking the screenshot for later public humiliation; in some cases even going to far as to screenshot and make efforts to mock those who block them before the baiting gets the desired response.

Regardless of how the screenshot has been obtained, edited or otherwise treated the obvious purpose of the deviation is to mock, taunt, insult or humiliate the victim publicly and this purpose is often enhanced by sharing the deviation through Groups, blogs or journals specifically designed for this purpose.

Previously, in an effort to be as accommodating as possible, we attempted to work with the community in regards to screenshot style submissions for a long time, knowing that while they could show some genuinely funny situations these types of deviations could be used to promote the humiliation and harassment of other members. In our efforts to find a middle ground we did allow screenshots for a time to be submitted providing that they were publicly censored however this simply bred an environment where the censored information was provided in private to anyone who asked and this did little to deter what is actually a problem.

As over time these types of submissions have become more and more focused on the harassment and mocking of other individuals, both here on deviantART as well as on other websites, we have been forced to review our previous lenient approach to how we handle them and as a result of that review we will no longer be tolerating the submission these types of screenshot deviations.

Because of this change we urge all members who may have these submissions in their deviantART gallery to remove them voluntarily rather than to have them removed by our staff and have that removal associated with your profile records.

While our current focus at addressing cyberbullying is currently directed at deviations we are not ignoring journals, blogs, or Groups which may be designed for the same purpose. Currently we will be evaluating these on a case-by-case basis as we continue to review and assess our current policies towards bullying and harassment.


How (And Where) To Report Deviations

Journal Entry: Thu Mar 29, 2012, 7:49 PM


The Galleries here at deviantART.com receive, on average, around a hundred thousand submissions every day- any way you look at it that is a lot of creative works coming in every minute of every day. Among this outpouring of creativity which we call Deviations there are, inevitably, works which could be potential problems and when members of the community find deviations which could be troublesome for one reason or another it is only natural to want to bring them to the attention of the staff here at deviantART.

Because of the various ways that a deviation might be a problem we'll focus on only one specific issue in this blog, that issue being the subject of copyright infringement.

Now we've already tried to explain the ins and outs of copyright in our copyright policy so if you haven't read that particular page yet I'd encourage you to do so now (you agree to obey the rules and restrictions laid out there every time you submit a deviation).

Now the term copyright infringement is often referred to by the (somewhat inaccurate) slang term of "art theft" within the deviantART community and elsewhere but for the purpose of this blog we will not be using the slang term at all and will rely solely on the more accurate term "copyright infringement" or "infringement".

Some examples on how a deviation can be considered copyright infringement would include things such as placing something made by another artist into your deviantART gallery without their knowledge or permission, modifying or editing a work made by someone else and placing it in your gallery or precisely copying a work originally created by someone else. There can be other situations but those three represent the most common reasons that someone will believe that their copyright has been infringed upon.

There are basically four avenues by which alleged copyright infringement can be brought to the attention of the deviantART staff; two are "informal" methods which are fairly forgiving in terms of what is required while the third and fourth are more "formal" methods which follows a strict protocol and we'll briefly explain all of these methods of contact below.

To start with the formal methods of contact, these are done either by contacting deviantART customer service (the help desk found at help ), which can be done if you have a deviantART account, or by emailing us directly at violations@deviantart.com. Using either of these methods will require that the complaint follow all of the legal requirements laid out under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as we mention in the deviantART copyright policy. Don't worry if you aren't certain what you need to write, someone will be able to assist you if you don';t know what to do or if you haven't provided everything which is required.

Because both of these formal methods of contact have to meet specific requirements under the law they can only be used by actual copyright owners or someone who is authorized to represent them. This means that "third party" reports won't be accepted either through email or through the deviantART help desk and anyone who is not an owner or who is not representing an owner will be redirected to the informal moderation system which we will talk about below.

The two informal methods of contact use our onsite moderation system and are started the same way- by clicking a link on the actual deviation page. The link in question is Report Deviation and it can be found on every deviation page. This link has moved around the deviation page over the years as various changes to deviantART have occurred and as of this writing it can be found below the deviation itself, in the right-hand column just underneath the Statistics section where you can find the total number of comments, favorites, views and downloads. The link is in blue and has an exclamation point symbol  next to it to help it stand out a bit.

Clicking this link will bring up a menu where you can select several options but the ones we are mainly concerned about in this particular blog are "My Work Used" and "Permissions Issues". While both of these categories can be used to report alleged infringements they are distinct in who should be using which one to bring deviations to the attention of our staff.

The category titled "My Work Used" is intended to be used by actual copyright owners to file an informal report with our staff. Reports filed through moderation here are not quite the same as writing a claim of infringement which complies with the more strict protocols set out under the law so under some circumstances our staff may redirect an owner to file a more formal notice (which we'll explain more below). These reports go into a special queue in the moderation system where they will be given a higher priority by our staff and waiting times for review should be relatively short. Because this particular report type is intended to be used by actual owners it is important to mention that if you are not an owner and you file a report using this section you will be redirected and your report may be closed without any further action being taken- this is done in order to keep this section of the moderation system focused solely on the more informal reports filed by copyright owners.

By contrast the selection of "Permissions Issues" will allow anyone to report a deviation as being potentially infringing but there is a trade off in that these reports are a much lower priority and depending on the circumstances and information provided it is less likely that they will prompt any direct action from the staff in any but the most clear and obvious situations.

Now, this brings up the subject of the differences between a claim of infringement filed by an owner and one filed by anybody else and why our staff treats these reports differently - we do understand that many in the community feel that third party reports should be handled without question and many have claimed in the past that we do not do this because we are "lazy" or that we "support art theft" or "don't care" but the actual reasons are rooted in the need to respond to these sorts of situations in the most responsible fashion possible.

The average third party infringement claim can have many things about it which can cause our staff concern; many can be vague or based upon assumptions or rumor and we've even seen a few which are plainly wrong for one reason or another.

We have millions of artists here and many of our members maintain, or have used, more than one deviantART account. Many members have accounts on many other art related websites or forums or personal websites and cross-post the same works on these other websites, not to mention that many deviantART members have works published in books, magazines and other print sources. In addition the works found on deviantART can be taken by a small number of the millions of daily visitors and posted elsewhere (with or without permission) and this creates a situation where we cannot simply assume that since you were able to find a particular work elsewhere that the work found on deviantART isn't supposed to be here.

There are also commissions, "art trades", collaborations, partnerships, work-for-hire transactions and hundreds or private deals and arrangements every day just on deviantART alone. Add to this the fact that there are tens of thousands of legitimate stock images, "bases" and other resources free for the taking and free to use in a new work and then mix in tens of thousands of works covered by Creative Commons, those which have otherwise been offered to the public for use by the owner, and those created by owners which don't care if their work is spread around and we have a situation where just because someone has used or posted something owned by another person doesn't necessarily mean that it was unauthorized.

In short, the reason that we place an emphasis and preference on claims filed by owners over claims filed by just anybody is that, without the actual involvement of the copyright owner you really cannot say for certain if a particular use was without permission or if the owner even cares at all about the use.

This means that the best course of action when you find what you suspect to be an infringement is for you to actually contact the owner- something which can be stunningly easy considering that a large percentage of third party reports given to us involve owners who are already a part of the deviantART community. Contacting them and letting them file a more formal complaint with our staff is vastly preferred to a report which amounts to suspicion and accusation alone.

We will continue to accept and review both owner-filed and third party reports and I hope this article has helped make it clear where each type of complaint should be filed and why they are handled with different priorities and why they receive different levels of action by our staff.


Unexpected Login? Check Your URL!

Journal Entry: Wed Aug 31, 2011, 8:16 AM


New Phishing Site Hazards


Being an extreme large community composed of a good number younger people deviantART unfortunately becomes the target of spammers and phishers.

Currently we have an individual or Group of individuals using a fake deviantART login page and they are using hijacked accounts in order to spread the URL to this fake page.

Please spread the work that if you click on a link which directs you through the deviantART "There Be Monsters Out There" outgoing link page and you unexpectedly appear to wind up back on deviantART while logged out  then you should please check the URL of where you are before you enter any of your details.

The proper URL for the actual deviantART login page is; DEVIANTART.COM/USERS/LOGIN- Note that there is nothing bwtween "deviantart" and "com" except for a "dot".

If you find yourself unexpectedly logged out after clicking an offsite link please immediately check the URL to see if there is anything extra added into it which would indicate that you are in fact on some third party website masquerading as deviantART- for example if the URL reads something like DEVIANTART.[SOMETHING].COM/USERS/LOGIN then you are no longer on deviantART and you should not attempt to login.

If there are any words at all between "deviantART" and "com" then you are on a phishing site.

Addressing the Issue


We are currently tracking and banning the accounts being used to spread this phishing site and we have blacklisted the actual URL of the phishing site as well and we are looking into having the site disabled as quickly as possible.

In the meantime the phisher may move to using URL shortening services in order to bypass the blacklist against their own site and if this is the case then we will move to blacklist these shortening services as well at least temporarily.

While we do understand that URL shortening services (such as bit.ly) are popular and well used we will be putting the safety and security of our members ahead of the convenience offered by these services so f you are a routine user of such a service and your use is suddenly blocked please be aware that it is not a bug but a security measure which we have put into place for a period of time.

  • Mood: Content

Rumor Control

Journal Entry: Fri Mar 25, 2011, 8:12 AM


Misinformation Abounds


So the general purpose of this journal is twofold; for one I really need to get the old journal from September put away since it's truly out of date now that it is nearly April and the second reason is that there is a lot of misinformation floating about and being spread about what you can or can't do and this misinformation is sometimes causing tickets to be sent into our customer support center which amounts to a waste of staff time and resources.

Some of the information is old and based on the way things used to work and what we used to advise or allow and some of it is just downright wrong and based on stuff people that people want to be true but which isn't.

Please Note

Because people love to quote from staff journals, staff news articles as well as the FAQ and any other official source they can I'm leading off with the disclaimer that what I am writing here today applies to policy as it is currently written- if you are reading this and it's six months, a year, or 5 years later what you read below may no longer be accurate or reflect how things currently work.

People still toss around links to articles which are years out of date and some people quote old versions of FAQs which were rewritten and changed years ago so always check the most current source of information.

Blocking

The first and most important thing to say about the Blocking Tool is that it exists so that you, the members of deviantART, can use it however you want.

This means that deviants can put whomever they want on their own list for whatever reason they want regardless how how stupid or unfair you might think that reason is- it is impossible for someone to "abuse" their own Blocking Tool.

Do not come to our support center to complain that you've been blocked "unfairly" because our staff will not force anyone to unblock you and we will not punish anyone for blocking you.

Do not report that someone has blocked you, then unblocked you just long enough to reply to your comment where you were badmouthing them before blocking you again- frankly we don't care about this behavior and if that sort of behavior annoys you because you can't get in the last word then you should probably stick that individual on your own block list- that's why its there.

Lastly, if someone has blocked you consider that to be a notice that if you contact them again for any reason on any account you are inviting a ban for deliberate harassment.

At one time when blocking was limited to just profile pages you could get away with repeated contact after blocking if the person blocking you wasn't able to shut their mouth and stop replying but now that blocking works site-wide that exception is gone and if you make any effort to continue contacting someone who has blocked you then you should be prepared to get yourself banned or suspended.

Pageviews

Now we do all understand that some of you guys cling to your pageview statistic as if it was the most important thing anyone ever gave to you, but the truth of the matter is that it simply counts how many times your profile page has been looked at. It doesn't mean that you are popular, it doesn't mean that your art is necessarily good, and overall it has no real affect on your deviantART experience at all.

Like it or not as far as we are concerned pageviews cannot be "abused".

We know all about the pageview bots which are in existence which can add tens of thousands of pageviews to your profile in a day and frankly it just isn't a primary concern for us- you don't need to report it to our support center because ultimately we won't stop them from being used.

Likewise, we know that some members have set up shop "selling" pageviews for Points and we do not consider this to be a "scam"- if someone is so wrapped up and obsessed over a pretty useless statistic which doesn't directly benefit them in any way that they want to trade away Points in order artificially increase it rather than wait for it to increase naturally for free then let them waste their Points.

Favorites

Favorites occupy a special place in the hearts of many members- getting one usually represents that someone thought highly enough of your work to collect it on their list.

The fact of the matter though is that people add Favorites for a variety of reasons- some people are very discerning and hand out very few and only to what they consider quality work but there are many others who treat them with as much value as sand in the Sahara.

Some people hand out a handful a week and others employ the fire hose approach.

Ultimately though each individual passes out their Favorites as often as they see fit and as staff we do not care how fast or how rarely this occurs.

As far as policy is concerned you cannot "abuse" Favorites by handing out too many too quickly.

You cannot "abuse" Favorites by indiscriminately Favoriting everything you see or by Favoriting hundreds or thousands of works or by Favoriting "too fast".

It is also not considered to be a problem if someone Favorites your work and then immediately removes it. Yes- that sort of thing is a cheap ploy for attention but ultimately it is not something which is severe enough to justify any sort of administrative involvement.

Please don't report these types of behaviors to us.

"Make Them Stop Visiting Me"

We've gotten an unusual number of complaints about members who simply visit one's profile daily without commenting or interacting in any fashion- essentially someone who just passes through silently.

Now I understand that occasionally someone is going to get "creeped out" by this sort of thing but to be completely honest your deviantART profile is completely open to the public and there is absolutely nothing which can prevent anyone, logged in or anonymously logged out, from looking at your profile, your gallery and everything else which you have posted publicly.

Please do not report people who simply look at you without interacting- there is nothing which we can do to stop it and nothing which justifies any action at all.


background-image:url(fc09.deviantart.net/fs71/f/201… !important;
  • Mood: Content

Project Educate Mature Content Questions

Journal Entry: Thu Sep 30, 2010, 7:51 AM


Your Input Is Needed

communityrelations is preparing to launch another round of projecteducate and Artistic Nude and Fetish Gallery Moderator Nyx-Valentine needs your input.

If you have questions, concerns, or want any sort of clarification about either of those galleries and what is or is not acceptable or any other issue which has you wondering then you should head right over to Her Journal and make yourself heard.







































.

  • Mood: Content

deviantART v. The Inkers ... Wait- What?

Journal Entry: Tue Sep 28, 2010, 10:42 AM


Better Late Than Never

So this journal is in response to an issue which came up back in August; the actual situation broke after I had begun an extended vacation and by the time I returned to work it appeared to have resolved itself so I concerned myself with things which appeared to be ongoing still.

However it appears that y2jenn is being quizzed in private as to when the matter will be officially addressed and there are still a couple of journals still posted about it so I'm going to address the issue now since some people are obviously still concerned.

A Little Background

The thing which sparked the actual issue which got a bunch of comic artists concerned actually started in early August when a customer support ticket was filed.

The ticket in question was filed by a third party who presented only vague information; the gentleman was concerned because a friend had mentioned that several works of his had been removed due to being in violation of the deviantART copyright policy and that those works were evidently inked comic line art.

Because there was no specific information involved, no account name, no deviation links, nothing at all, we were not able to research the specific actions and circumstances so a very general reply was given.

In the interests of transparency since the person in question has already published our exchange I will do so here as well;

The Original Ticket
Friday
Apr-09 2010 09:14 am



Is this still a policy?

"Your deviations were removed due to violation of one of the following
policies:

An administrator has removed your deviation as being a violation of
copyright.

Your submissions may not contain material or images which were not created
entirely through your own effort; this means that you cannot simply collect
photographs, artworks and other images, writings or scans from printed
books/magazines and submit them to your account. You are not allowed to
submit


As you can see there really is no specific information here. In addition the ticket had been misfiled as a Copyright Infringement Notice instead of a general Policy Inquiry. This isn't unusual since we get about a half-dozen misfiled tickets in the DMCA section each day so I cited the correct filing category and answered the question.

My First Reply
Friday
Apr-09 2010 11:21 am.


Thank you for contacting deviantART, I will be assisting you with your support ticket.

My apologies but you have misfiled your support ticket as a 'DMCA Copyright Infringement Notice'. Since you are not filing a claim of copyright infringement but are instead trying to appeal actions taken by our staff in your deviantART gallery your ticket should have been as a 'Policy Inquiry'; please try to file your support tickets correctly so that you can receive prompt assistance from the proper department.

There is no need for you to file a new ticket since we will simply continue using this one but please remember this for future tickets which you may file.

The text that you quoted in your support ticket appears to be from one of our automated notices and as such would indicate that the statements made therein represent current deviantART policy.


The reply I received came in shortly

His First Reply
Friday
Apr-09 2010 11:34 am.


This was not 'my' ticket....another inker had this sent to him and had his page wiped....he posted this text on an inker maling list for others to see and other inkers said that they've heard of this 'problem' with inkers. As such, if this is the policy, I will be canceling my DA page.


From that reply it was pretty obvious why we couldn't find any information associated with the inquiry- it was a question from a friend of some unknown person who was upset about what happened to them.

It's not uncommon for someone to have a work removed from their gallery and then for us to hear from one or more of their friends who wish to protest. Rather than leave the ticket at that I made a couple of assumptions and responded one last time.

My Second Reply
Monday
Apr-09 2010 11:34 am.


You are not particularly clear in your reply, but from what you have said I would assume that this "inker" simply took sketches and drawings that were the work of another artist and "inked" them without first obtaining proper permission to do so.

This practice is in violation of our copyright policy since you must obtain a proper license to use any material which you intend to use ("ink") before you submit it to your deviantART gallery.


There were no replies after that (I had half expected to get another reply which would have possibly had more specific details) but the gentleman wound up deactivating their (then) three month old account and I considered the matter closed.

That is until nearly four months later when the whole exchange was served up as an attack against deviantART policies.



Public Outcry

So four months later, on August 23rd during my vacation, the entire exchange shows up on firstcomicnews.com and that article was picked up and posted again by comicalliance.com

Both articles attempt to stir up fear in the comic community and level charges at me of not knowing what I'm talking about so I'll take this opportunity to address the points raised here.



Now the article starts off with the statement that the anonymous artist had their account "closed down" which I take to mean "banned". Now we don't ban lightly so if this anonymous artist was indeed banned it would have either been as a result of gross misrepresentation of the work or due to repeated offenses. Of course without his actual account name we'll never know the entire story.

The second part of the introduction states that this anonymous artist "inquired about the matter for more info". Now I must point out that I doubt this actually happened - why? Simply put the anonymous artist claims to have received the content of the automated note as a response to his inquiry; this simply cannot happen.

The automated note quoted in the original ticket is the note which accompanies a staff action - an inquiry for more information routes through our customer support system where an actual person answers with specific information...they would not simply paste out an exact copy of the original automated response.

At the bottom of the pasted exchange there are a series of statements made which essentially defend and excuse use of line art for inking purposes and the redistribution of the result without permission and deviantART in general is accused of having misinformation and being confused.

Now, I don't mean to sound disrespectful or dismissive but we are neither ignorant of how the craft of comic creation, nor are we misinformed or confused about the issues.

Now anyone who has watched my journals and news articles has the basic understanding that in order to use something that was created by someone else in your deviantART submission you need to be entitled to do so through having proper permission, the content being stock, public domain, etc.

The article seems to expect that because the comic industry "expects" people to simply take whatever they want to do whatever they want with it that deviantART should create an exception for comic book inkers and colorists.

Unfortunately we cannot do that - if we receive a valid claim of infringement in association with your inked line art from the actual copyright owner it will be removed because not only because we are legally responsible for doing so but also because it is simply common sense that our copyright policies apply to everyone equally.

Now to be clear our staff is certainly not running around willy-nilly "nuking" entire galleries; but if we receive a valid copyright complaint you can certainly expect our staff to take whatever action is necessary.



Unfortunately the comicsalliance.com article continues the scare tactics, but I'll clarify a couple of things and correct an error or two as well.

The writer there primarily took offense at my placing the word inker in quotations ( "inker" ).

For the record when someone is referring to the act of inking but is not clear whether they are actually inking with pen and ink or if they are "inking" digitally then I routinely place the term in quotations (as I just did) because digital "inking" is a bit of a misnomer because digital lines aren't actually ink in the traditional sense of the word.

It's not intended to be insulting, it's simply my personal way of differentiating between traditional and digital methods.

The article also attempts to confuse the vital role played of a comic inker in the industry with the issue of getting permission before you redistribute works belonging to someone else.

While compared directly the role played by an inker and the act of getting permission to redistribute work are two completely separate situations and comparing them as if they are inextricably linked merely confuses the matter and promotes people to be outraged.

The article also tries to instill fear that an "anonymous DMCA tip" could result in the removal of your comic work.

This actually reveals that the writer is ignorant of the requirements set out by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Anyone who is aware of the DMCA standards knows that there is no such thing as an "anonymous" DMCA compliant claim of infringement. In order to comply the person filing a claim of infringement must identify themselves, provide valid contact information and make several legally binding statements- anyone trying to remain anonymous gets their claim tossed out.


The Bottom Line

The truth of the matter is that I wanted to avoid having to write this clarification because I knew that it would involve picking apart the inaccuracies in both articles and that runs the risk of offending comic artists.

The truth is that deviantART is not "targeting" comic artists, inkers or colorists. We respond to complaints involving these artists in exactly the same manner as we do with every other deviantART member.

The truth is that in order for the staff to take any action in your gallery we first need to receive a valid complaint - just any old "anonymous", vague accusation simply won't do.

In short comic book artists, regardless of their role in the industry, have nothing more to be concerned about than any other member.


  • Mood: Content
It’s All in the Details
It was about a year ago that I posted a news article which attempted to clarify why and how official policy and community viewpoint can differ so greatly in regards to what can be considered to be obscene or pornographic and I even spoke about it a bit in my journal.

Much of what was written in that previous article holds true today so I will only briefly outline the basics of what was written there in this article and I would urge any who haven’t yet read it to do so.

Recently there has been a lot of dissatisfaction being voiced concerning types of content which is allowed in the deviantART galleries and almost an equal amount of misinformation and other incorrect assumptions about what is allowed and what gets removed.

Much of the discontent in this area stems from the differences between official definitions and policy and the individual viewpoints held by members of the community.

In the past we, the staff, have tried to address these differences by amending the FAQ with clearer language, posting journals and news articles trying to explain this nuance or that definition but regardless of those efforts there continue to be misinterpretations and misunderstandings so in this particular news article instead of trying to explain the various policies and procedures I’ll attempt to explain the reasoning and viewpoint which exists behind those policies and procedures.


Provoking a Response
In the 1971 case of Cohen v. California, United states Supreme Court Justice Marshall Harlan II summarized exactly how subjective “artistic merit” can be when he stated, “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” and that statement remains true to this day.

Art is intended to be evocative, and given that works of art so often succeed in evoking such diverse and passionate responses it is not surprising at all that artistic expression is often the target of so many censorship efforts. Post-modern art, for example, derives its value from defying past standards and expanding the traditional boundaries of art, often by deliberately attempting to shock and offend the audience.

Even here at deviantART, a community founded on the concept of being a gathering place for all sorts of creative persons and artistic visions, there is a certain level of censorship. deviantART does restrict the submission of certain types of content – some for critical legal reasons and some for what could be called completely arbitrary reasons which we have made because of our concerns about the health and direction of the community.

Because the concept of being a community which is intended to welcome all sorts of creative endeavors while at the same time denying access to certain content and themes are so at odds with each other we make every attempt to keep our restrictions to the barest minimum. If it appears at times that we appear to make exceptions for certain types of works it is because we are trying to find more reasons to keep a work than to remove a work; a fact which results in probably too many of you in the community assuming in error that our staff is poorly trained, biased, or lazy.

We make every attempt to allow works which are evocative and this sometimes means that a work will be erotic and sexual enough, or political enough, or religious enough, to offend someone with more delicate sensibilities. This is the main reason our mature content tagging system exists and why we’ve made improvements to it over the years to help artists warn their audience that a certain work might be offensive to them.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The type of content which generates the most concern and the most complaints tends to be photographic nude works which are considered inartistic by the people doing the complaining, some even going as far as to quote the three standards for determining obscenity set by the United States Supreme Court in 1973, one of which states that an obscene work “taken as whole, lacks serious literary, political, or scientific value” as justification for asking for the removal of the deviations they find offensive.

Unfortunately the determination of “serious literary, political, or scientific value” is not as clear cut and easy as one could assume. As I’ve stated elsewhere, “artistic value” and “obscenity” varies greatly depending on your cultural and family upbringing as well as your personal viewpoints. The question of whose standards to use is difficult at best which is why official policy on the matter is written to address quantitative facts about a work rather than the qualities of the work.

There was a case which demonstrates exactly how hazy the term “value” can be when applied to art which I’d like to relate to the readers here for greater clarity.

In 1969, United States Customs agents in Baltimore Maryland seized ten paintings and drawings which had been shipped in from Europe for an exhibition in the United States. The works were a portion of a larger collection of erotic artworks which had been previously shown and displayed in museums in Scandinavia. Among the ten works seized were works by Hans Bellmer, George Grosz, Karel Appel, Melle, Cesare Peverelli, and five other works by artists whose identities were unknown.

The Customs agents seized the works under the authority of a federal law which prohibited the importation of obscene materials The ten works seized included themes which were explicit in their showing of male and female sex organs, sometimes in conjunction or approaching conjunction and the agents judged that the various themes were sexual and obscene enough to stop their entry into the United States.

The issue involving these works eventually received a legal ruling, and although the case was decided before Miller v. California (the ruling which determined the obscenity standards still used today) the court applied a similar three-part standard to determine whether or not the works were to be ruled as obscene. Despite the clearly sexual content of the works, both the trial court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the works all had artistic value and therefore did not meet the third legal criterion of obscenity.

Now I mention this particular case not because we use it to justify keeping certain works but because it demonstrates how individual judgments concerning “values” can reach completely different conclusions and it is because of  these differences in personal judgment that deviantART policies rely more upon empirical observations about a work rather than personal opinions concerning artistic value and intent – by relying more upon the former we are able to ensure greater consistency in the actions taken, or not taken, by our staff.

While members of our community are certainly free to call something obscene because, “I know it when I see it” (Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, 1964), our staff tries to avoid involving such personal and ultimately subjective observations in our policy decisions, even though they may completely agree with you on a personal level.

When you think about it in a broader sense when we talk about “artistic value” we must also consider that not all artistic works are intended to be aesthetic or even fully interpretable which in turn can spark an entirely different conversation about exactly what “art” is supposed to be in the first place – who gets to make that decision?

Porn in My deviantART?

Journal Entry: Thu Sep 23, 2010, 10:19 AM


Obscenity and Art

deviantART does not allow the submission of pornographic content, however portions of the community have traditionally had a tendency to be confused on the exact definition and what is or is not allowed and why, leading many to continue to report things which fit their own personal viewpoints; today I will again attempt to clarify things.


It’s All in the Details

It was about a year ago that I posted a news article which attempted to clarify why and how official policy and community viewpoint can differ so greatly in regards to what can be considered to be obscene or pornographic and I even spoke about it a bit in my journal.

Much of what was written in that previous article holds true today so I will only briefly outline the basics of what was written there in this article and I would urge any who haven’t yet read it to do so.

Recently there has been a lot of dissatisfaction being voiced concerning types of content which is allowed in the deviantART galleries and almost an equal amount of misinformation and other incorrect assumptions about what is allowed and what gets removed.

Much of the discontent in this area stems from the differences between official definitions and policy and the individual viewpoints held by members of the community.

In the past we, the staff, have tried to address these differences by amending the FAQ with clearer language, posting journals and news articles trying to explain this nuance or that definition but regardless of those efforts there continue to be misinterpretations and misunderstandings so in this particular news article instead of trying to explain the various policies and procedures I’ll attempt to explain the reasoning and viewpoint which exists behind those policies and procedures.


Provoking a Response

In the 1971 case of Cohen v. California, United states Supreme Court Justice Marshall Harlan II summarized exactly how subjective “artistic merit” can be when he stated, “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric” and that statement remains true to this day.

Art is intended to be evocative, and given that works of art so often succeed in evoking such diverse and passionate responses it is not surprising at all that artistic expression is often the target of so many censorship efforts. Post-modern art, for example, derives its value from defying past standards and expanding the traditional boundaries of art, often by deliberately attempting to shock and offend the audience.

Even here at deviantART, a community founded on the concept of being a gathering place for all sorts of creative persons and artistic visions, there is a certain level of censorship. deviantART does restrict the submission of certain types of content – some for critical legal reasons and some for what could be called completely arbitrary reasons which we have made because of our concerns about the health and direction of the community.

Because the concept of being a community which is intended to welcome all sorts of creative endeavors while at the same time denying access to certain content and themes are so at odds with each other we make every attempt to keep our restrictions to the barest minimum. If it appears at times that we appear to make exceptions for certain types of works it is because we are trying to find more reasons to keep a work than to remove a work; a fact which results in probably too many of you in the community assuming in error that our staff is poorly trained, biased, or lazy.

We make every attempt to allow works which are evocative and this sometimes means that a work will be erotic and sexual enough, or political enough, or religious enough, to offend someone with more delicate sensibilities. This is the main reason our mature content tagging system exists and why we’ve made improvements to it over the years to help artists warn their audience that a certain work might be offensive to them.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The type of content which generates the most concern and the most complaints tends to be photographic nude works which are considered inartistic by the people doing the complaining, some even going as far as to quote the three standards for determining obscenity set by the United States Supreme Court in 1973, one of which states that an obscene work “taken as whole, lacks serious literary, political, or scientific value” as justification for asking for the removal of the deviations they find offensive.

Unfortunately the determination of “serious literary, political, or scientific value” is not as clear cut and easy as one could assume. As I’ve stated elsewhere, “artistic value” and “obscenity” varies greatly depending on your cultural and family upbringing as well as your personal viewpoints. The question of whose standards to use is difficult at best which is why official policy on the matter is written to address quantitative facts about a work rather than the qualities of the work.

There was a case which demonstrates exactly how hazy the term “value” can be when applied to art which I’d like to relate to the readers here for greater clarity.

In 1969, United States Customs agents in Baltimore Maryland seized ten paintings and drawings which had been shipped in from Europe for an exhibition in the United States. The works were a portion of a larger collection of erotic artworks which had been previously shown and displayed in museums in Scandinavia. Among the ten works seized were works by Hans Bellmer, George Grosz, Karel Appel, Melle, Cesare Peverelli, and five other works by artists whose identities were unknown.

The Customs agents seized the works under the authority of a federal law which prohibited the importation of obscene materials The ten works seized included themes which were explicit in their showing of male and female sex organs, sometimes in conjunction or approaching conjunction and the agents judged that the various themes were sexual and obscene enough to stop their entry into the United States.

The issue involving these works eventually received a legal ruling, and although the case was decided before Miller v. California (the ruling which determined the obscenity standards still used today) the court applied a similar three-part standard to determine whether or not the works were to be ruled as obscene. Despite the clearly sexual content of the works, both the trial court and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the works all had artistic value and therefore did not meet the third legal criterion of obscenity.

Now I mention this particular case not because we use it to justify keeping certain works but because it demonstrates how individual judgments concerning “values” can reach completely different conclusions and it is because of  these differences in personal judgment that deviantART policies rely more upon empirical observations about a work rather than personal opinions concerning artistic value and intent – by relying more upon the former we are able to ensure greater consistency in the actions taken, or not taken, by our staff.

While members of our community are certainly free to call something obscene because, “I know it when I see it” (Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, 1964), our staff tries to avoid involving such personal and ultimately subjective observations in our policy decisions, even though they may completely agree with you on a personal level.

When you think about it in a broader sense when we talk about “artistic value” we must also consider that not all artistic works are intended to be aesthetic or even fully interpretable which in turn can spark an entirely different conversation about exactly what “art” is supposed to be in the first place – who gets to make that decision?


  • Mood: Content

Mature Content

Journal Entry: Mon Sep 13, 2010, 10:07 AM


Mature Content

As I'm certain most long time watchers of this space are aware, deviantART policy is not completely static and unchanging. While there are certain tenants of it which must remain, such as the bits concerning certain restrictions involving copyright, pornography, and other such severe matters, there are several policies which we have in place which we have some discretion in how they are worded and how they are enforced when necessary and we usually try to take a good hard look at them once every year or so.

This is part of the delicate balancing act we try to strike between artistic freedom and censorship; like it or not we simply can't accept everything and we're always trying to make certain that the line between what we accept and what we don't accept is in the best interests of the community as a whole.

One of these areas discretionary areas is Mature Content and in preparation for 2011 I'll be taking a good look at what should be tagged and what shouldn't be tagged and how the whole thing should be presented to you guys out there in the community.

What I would like to see during this review period is some input from the community at large - how do you use the tag? What sorts of things do you think should be tagged? When you look at something potentially offensive, such as nudity, how much is enough to justify a tag in your opinion and when do you think the work can go without?

Some other things to consider are;

Do you browse with the tag on or off? Why?

If you had the option to filter out certain types of content would you? Would it change your browsing experience?

If you could "rate" certain types of mature content on a scale of 1-10 and then elect to filter out works of a certain value or higher while viewing others would you use this option?

If you've seen any good arguments or commentary for or against certain things concerning mature content tagging can you give me links to them or invite those deviants over here to express their ideas and/or dissatisfaction?

A Step Beyond Acceptable

Now as most readers here also know, the fact that deviantART has a mature content system does not mean that we accept pornographic works.

The definition that we use to determine whether or not something should be considered to be "pornographic" or not is also something which we have just a little bit of discretion as to where we set the line.

We've fussed with this one on and off in order to ensure as much artistic freedom for people to be provocative and erotic as possible without allowing the clearly pornographic stuff.

What do you think about where the line is drawn?

Do you think it is too permissive? To restrictive?

If you don't like the current system how would you change it? What would you suggest to be done differently?

In depth discussions and opinions are welcome.

Just To Be Clear

Simply because we are doing our annual review of what we are doing on these subjects and calling for community input doesn't necessarily mean that there will be any sweeping or major changes - we are mainly looking for your opinions and suggestions on the subject and they may or may not influence the coming staff discussions but since we certainly don't have a monopoly on good ideas we'd like to know what you think on these subjects.

Petitions, ranting, and general asshattery will be ignored.

Intelligent discussions and worthwhile opinions will be noted.


  • Mood: Content

Concerns and Discussion; &a bit of news at the

Journal Entry: Wed Sep 8, 2010, 11:41 AM



Okay so I realize that my last journal was written way back in May and it's probably time for me to spark a bit more discussion (since that's why most of you watch this profile).

Today's discussion isn't about policy, at least not directly, but it is about something which I feel strongly about and that I know many others feel strongly about and I started thinking about the issue based on a few things which crossed my desk earlier today.

The topic I want to discuss today concerns the realm of traditional art - sketching mainly - and how access to digital tools and the mathematical algorithms and procedures known as "filters" have had an impact on honesty among some traditional artists.

If you aren't certain what I'm talking about then you probably haven't gotten around the site very much over the years or maybe you just have a deep seated faith in the honesty of your fellow artists.

What I'm talking about is when an artist uses digital tools to manipulate a photograph into something which approximates a pencil sketch and then claims to have actually sketched the resulting manipulation.

There's a bunch of reasons why an artist would stoop to this level; feelings of insecurity and the all consuming Quest for Attention tend to be at the top though.

It is actually so easy to forge a pencil sketch out of a manipulated photograph I think it would be fair for me to say that I'll probably never :+fav: one regardless of how legitimate it looks just because I've seen to many cheaters.

Even if no direct manipulation has been done the art of "painting over" a photograph in a digital art program is such a popular "technique" that I just have quite a sour taste in my mouth over the whole subject matter- and that's not even approaching the whole issue involving copyrights and reproductions.

Now granted, way back when I used to redraw photographs from the 1800s and early 1900s so I did very similar work to what I'm complaining about right now but at the very least I relied upon public domain photographs for my references and when you actually compare my early pencil work with the photographs you can actually tell them apart because I actually drew freehand.

What I'm talking about is how some artists want to be known for producing astounding work so badly that it prompts a lot of cheating; directly drawing over the photo reference, "tracing" it in a vector program, "smudging" the photo directly, manipulating the photo (or pieces of the photo) into something which looks like a sketch or painting which barely looks different from the original.

A lot of you guys out there report this sort of stuff to CEA, but unfortunately there can be problems writing policy for this sort of cheating behavior.

I mean, how exactly do you prove that someone simply digitally painted on a layer above the actual photograph? Yes, you can prove the two are nearly identical but that fact alone says nothing about the method of creation.

The same can be said for various manipulations - we can't really prove anything because we weren't there during the creation process so all we have are suspicions, and regardless of how much you dislike the cheating behaviors you can't justify deleting something based on a suspicion alone because honestly there are actually artists out there who really are just that good.

So as much as some of you would like, we simply cannot moderate works which you think involved shortcuts or cheating in their creation based on that reason alone.

Copying a copyrighted work is another matter entirely and as I have stated elsewhere quite often if the owner of the copied work files a claim of infringement we'll be more than happy to review the claim; we'd rather than random people don't try to file any complaints because only the actual owner has the right to decide that they don't want their works copied so stop complaining to me and get them involved.

As far as "catching" people taking digital shortcuts and cheating your way to the "perfect sketch" or "perfect painting" we are pretty happy allowing you, the community, to call it like you see it.

I've seen plenty of cheaters abandon their profile when enough people question the authenticity of their work. Hell, many try to file "slander" complaints with our staff but as long as you are not violating our Terms of Service with outlandish abuse or similar tactics we are more than happy to let you guys announce that you believe something isn't quite right with that all-too-perfect celebrity sketch.

Just check your facts and be civil about the whole thing.


In other news we know that for awhile there customer support tickets to CEA were suffering an unacceptable backlog and we've worked hard for almost the last month to reduce the backlog to something a bit more reasonable.

The whole team deserves quite a bit of thanks for slogging through hundreds of drama tickets and other issues been which should never brought into the support center to clear out a huge chunk from the backlog and speed up the response time.

It's still a work in progress but once we've got that firmly under control (keep your dArama in your Block lists plz) we'll be taking a look at doing something similar with Moderation reports.

We'll also be doing our yearly review of various policies and fine tuning them a bit to make certain that we're still pointed in the direction which we want to be heading so more on that in the future.


  • Mood: Content

Copying vs. Plagiarism vs. Copyright Infringement

Journal Entry: Mon May 3, 2010, 3:02 PM



So, there's a good number of you out there who have heard of the debacle involving the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.

If you have not somehow bumped into this issue over the weekend it involves The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards which is a judged contest which received well over 150,000 entries this year and which handed out Gold and Silver Medals to 1300+ entrants with a lucky and talented fifteen of the Gold Medalists receiving a $10,000 scholarship.

The Awards themselves aren't what I am addressing but rather the fact that (at least) one entry this year was a direct copy of a work originally created by one of our very own deviantART members.

I'm deliberately not going to name the deviant or the plagiarist because the situation has been resolved with the plagiarist having their award stripped and there is no reason to feed more drama into the issue; if you really want to know I'm certain you can find the information yourself.

What I want to do is to use the overall issue to compare the differences between copying, plagiarism, and copyright infringement.

These three subjects are all tightly intertwined; sometimes they can all be the same thing and sometimes they are not but the reason I want to talk about them briefly is because the Great Campaign Against Art Theft rarely bothers to notice the distinction and for CEA in 2010 we are pushing a bit more education on these subjects out into the community.

Another problem is that the vague term "art theft" gets applied to all three of these situations and as I've pointed out the "art theft" and "stealing" terms just really don't acknowledge the sometimes subtle shades of grey (not to mention not being the right terms to use at all).

Copyright Infringement

Copyright Infringement is what most people are referring to when most people scream "art theft" or "stealing" but of course "stealing" and infringement aren't the same thing.

Copyright is a bundle of five rights which are exclusive to the copyright owner. These rights include the right to reproduce, distribute, create derivative works based upon, preform and display the protected work.

The owner controls all of these functions, subject to certain limitations and exceptions built into the law.

For most people copyright infringement involves the posting of their work or the manipulation (or "blending" or "editing" or "rendering") of their work. In these cases your actual work has been taken and directly used in some fashion.

There are a bunch of different ways which an infringement can occur but there are also exceptions and other situations where infringement might not be occurring so it is really important that you recognize when actual infringement has occurred and that you know how to proceed to remedy the problem(hint: mob action and death threats is not part of the procedure)

Plagiarism

Sometimes plagiarism and copyright infringement are the same thing; sometimes they are not.

A plagiarist is a person who poses as the originator or a work which they actually obtained from someone else; they claim to have come up with words they didn't really write, ideas they didn't think up, facts they didn't discover, etc, etc.

When you guys talks about people "stealing your ideas" you are talking about plagiarism.

Now copyright infringement and plagiarism aren't always the same thing. For the purpose of plagiarism the material "stolen" doesn't have to be protected by copyright and the plagiarist cannot be sued for copyright infringement if all that they take are unprotected ideas or facts or things which can be considered to be in the public domain.

If someone were to take and submit one of your original works to deviantART and claim it as their own work, that person would be considered to be a plagiarist as well as a copyright infringer.

If someone were to take and submit your original work but not claim it as their own they would simply be committing copyright infringement.

If that same person were to take and submit the Mona Lisa they would not be committing copyright infringement (because the Mona Lisa is in the public domain) but if they claimed that it was their own painting then they would be considered a plagiarist.

Copying

Aside from plagiarism, which is essentially copying while taking credit, we have just plain old copying.

Just like with the comparison between copyright infringement and plagiarism, simple copying is not necessarily either of those and this is where things get really, really confusing.

Artists have been copying from each other since the dawn of time but copying isn't always plagiarism and it also doesn't necessarily equal copyright infringement either.

Copying usually becomes copyright infringement when the copying is "verbatim"; the entire work is copied and copied exactly. There is usually no doubt that infringement has happened when two works are essentially identical in every way.

If there has only been "substantial" copying involved, with the works being obviously similar but not exactly the same it can become harder to have a valid claim of infringement, even more when the works are only superficially similar.

The main problem with copying is that the underlying idea behind your work, lets say a wolf howling at the moon in a dark forest, isn't protected under copyright.

Your exact rendition of the idea is protected and copyrighted to you, but anyone anywhere is free to use that idea in their own work, and many will do so without ever seeing your work and it is entirely possible that the works could simply share superficial similarities by coincidence without any copying having occurred.

Try Googling "wolf howling at the moon" and check the image results to see the sort of superficial similarities I'm talking about.



If you managed to follow all of this you'll hopefully carry away some notion of how nuanced and laced with subtleties these issues are in reality; something which the Black-or-White proclamation of "art theft" completely fails to acknowledge.

It's the biggest reason I'd love to see the community abandon use of that phrase (along with "stealing") and adopt some of the terms I've discussed here. I think once we do we might be able to see a lessening of some of what you could call "batshit insane" reactions people have to situations which don't necessarily call for such a highly dramatic reaction.

We've got millions of artists here and we get ten times that many visitors so it's high time we all started to better understand the issues which affect us as a community; we're all creative people here and we draw our inspiration from other artists even if we don't do it deliberately.

We can all probably name one person we know of who got "popular" here by copying the work of some other little-known artist and not bothering to credit them (plagiarism) and for every one of those people we can probably name five others who have obviously copied and "borrowed" ideas from works they've seen, not to mention the chronic problem of copyright infringement which is practically built into Internet use.

I'd love to sit down and perhaps have a discussion on these issues at some point; questions, answers, and advice from the perspective of what we do here at CEA could probably work out well.

  • Mood: Content

Current Topics

Journal Entry: Wed Mar 10, 2010, 8:47 AM


Beware of staff impersonations

At least a couple of times a year we get reports of someone impersonating deviantART staff.

Sometimes its a fake profile like DeviantARTVersion7 or deviantartpolice; you can always tell real staff members from the special symbol in front of their name ($) and actual volunteers by the symbol in front of their name (^).

Sometime we get people just claiming that they are "staff using an alternate account" to explain why their profile doesn't look like a staff account in any way. While some of us do maintain alternate accounts we don't parade around in them claiming to be staff while trying to get you to do something; that's why we have our actual staff accounts.

Lastly we have the people who try to pass themselves off as staff by rigging up fake email accounts or fake IM accounts.

Currently there is some troll running around on a fake Hotmail account pretending to be our beloved ewm- you can see the poor grammar and lack of research done by the troll by visiting ewm's journal here ewm.deviantart.com/journal/308…

It's important to remember that deviantART staff will never contact you via email or IM program and there is no reason why we would be using hotmail or yahoo or gmail or hellokitty to do it (while our current Support system does use email it's in response to you contacting us and not us contacting you first).

If you get a suspicious email "from staff" out of the blue don't be afraid to actually contact us and ask if it is real, and if it isn't we'll ask you to send us a copy so that we can file a fraud complaint with IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).


Problem groups

We are aware that some of you are discovering Groups which seem to have purposes which seem pretty "iffy". Out of the several types the ones we're looking at more closely at the moment are the "vigilante" Groups and the way they tend to be used to form lynch mobs and encourage witch hunting type behavior, not to mention the fact that they tend to 'market' themselves as an "alternative" to the staff or otherwise being able to "address" one or more types of problems.

Rest assured that we, the actual staff, are aware of your concerns and the problems which are built into these types of Groups so keep your eye out for an official response from us in the near future.

Until then continue to let us know via our Support Center of any problems or harassment issues stemming from these Groups.


"Art Theft"

Some of you may be aware that I've been involved in many conversations over the last few weeks concerning the concerns of the community about "art theft" versus the staff concern with actual Claims of Copyright Infringement.

The issue is complex and certain to cause a lot of feedback and discussion so I'll leave that off for a later journal for when I have a bit more time to write it but I do want to address some concerns which have been voiced that I am difficult to approach on the subject.

I'd like to simply state, for now, that I am more than willing to engage anyone on the subject and take the time to fully explain anything which you do not understand, however I do want it understood that anyone who adopts an aggressive tone with me or who bases their half of the discussion on popular misconceptions, incorrect information or who insists on using the wrong terminology should expect me to immediately correct them.

I don't do this in order to "retaliate" or "talk down" to anyone, or for any other reason except for the simple reason that you and I both need to be discussing the same subject matter.

Like it or not, a concern about "tracing" is not the same as a concern about "copyright infringement" so we have to either discuss one or the other and if it is obvious that what you actually want to discuss with me is copyright infringement them expect me to correct you as to which terminology you should actually be using.

A lot of the popular slang terms, like "art theft" simply do not mean the same thing as "copyright infringement" so forgive me if I correct you so that we are both talking about the same thing and using the correct terms for the discussion.

Part of my responsibilities here is to make certain that the community understands our policies and where they come from so expect me to correct you if you are working from a misunderstanding or popular misconception; it is not me arguing for the sake of argument it is me simply making certain that your half of the discussion and my half of the discussion are about the same thing.

If my information is mistaken or inaccurate then I will admit that and correct what I am saying so I will naturally expect you to do the same if your information is mistaken or inaccurate.

In any event I will address this whole matter at a later date but feel free to engage me on it through this journal since those discussions will help me ensure that any address I make at a later date addresses as many points properly as possible.


  • Mood: Content

Your Personal Stock Terms

Journal Entry: Mon Jan 11, 2010, 10:58 AM


The Language You Use Is Very Important

deviantART has a large and devoted stock resource community and we really do appreciate their presence and their generosity with the community.

I do have something very important I'd like to mention for everyone who offers some sort of stock resource so hopefully those who read my journal will help to disseminate the information and spread it around to those who might not otherwise read it.

The concern that I have is Terms of Use.

Officially deviantART maintains only one "automatic" restriction and that is "No Commercial Use" and that particular restriction can easily be overridden by the actual stock provider.

As far as official policy is concerned each stock resource provider is free to attach any Terms of Use, restrictions or requirements that they see fit and I and my staff will do the best we can to help you enforce your rules when you need the assistance.

We only ask a few things from you in return.

Your terms or restrictions should be easy to find, they should be clearly written and understandable and, if you need our help to enforce them, they should be easy for the staff to verify.

Unfortunately there are certain terms, requirements and restrictions that we have trouble helping you out with and I'm going to briefly run through the ones which are the major problems here and suggest ways that you can help us to help you with a minimum of pain and anguish.

Notifications

The Problem
You want to be notified via comment, via note, via email, letter, carrier pigeon, etc.

Unfortunately the staff either has a hard time confirming whether or not this required notification has happened or just plain cannot verify at all because of the way you want it done.

The Solution
Instead of asking for notification ask for proper crediting in the Artist Comments, or have them watermark a credit directly on the work. Having the credit attached to the work is far easier for the staff to verify than some private conversation.


Minimums

The Problem
You want your resource to have at least a certain amount of "something" done to it, for example you don't want to just see some Motion Blur applied and the whole thing thing tinted blue; you want actual effort invested and major changes done.

It is very important that your minimum requirements sound like requirements and not like preferences and that they can't be interpreted as being optional.

The Solution
Make certain that you state these minimum requirements in no uncertain terms. Don't say, "Please do more than change the color", instead state, "Every use of this resource MUST consist of substantial manipulation". Don't say, "You must change it by at least 25%" because someone might argue with what you consider to be "25%" and the staff is more likely to agree with you if you don't think something was "substantially manipulated".


Requirements

The Problem
You want your resource to include something specific so you ask, "Please Do X", or, "I prefer that you do Y".

Like the last item it is very important that your requirements sound like requirements and not like preferences and that they can't be interpreted as being optional. If your requirement sounds uncertain or more like a request or anything other than a hard-and-fast "Must Be Done" rule then the staff may have a hard time backing up your claim.

The Solution
Make certain that you state these minimum requirements in no uncertain terms. Don't say, "Please include a triangle shape in every use", instead state, "Every use of this resource MUST contain a triangle shape in the finished product". Make certain that your requirement clearly reads like a requirement.


Restrictions

The Problem
You don't want your resource to be used a certain way so you say, "No magical themes", or , "No disrespect to women allowed".

It is very important that your restrictions be clearly defined, if your definition isn't crystal clear the staff may find themselves unable to agree that your restrictions were ignored.

The Solution
Make certain that your restrictions are crystal clear; don't say, "No magical themes", say, "No manipulations including magical themes such as warlocks, wizards, witch doctors, fairies, dragons, elves, or other mythological creatures or related subjects".

By giving examples of how you don't want it used both the community and the staff will have a better understanding of your definition and what you don't want. Always try to be very clear in your restrictions.


I hope this helps everyone out there who has been generous enough to offer resources up to the community.

As always we're always available for questions and assistance, even if it might take awhile to get a personal reply =p

  • Mood: Content

Demands for IP bans

Journal Entry: Mon Jan 11, 2010, 9:01 AM


IP Bans Are Not Always The Solution

I'd like to take some time out of my day to briefly talk about certain demands which appear regularly on my desk from various members of the community for various somewhat-related reasons.

A few times each week one of you out there appear in our Support desk and explain a situation, harassment, dArama, abuse, ban evasion, or something along those lines and you end your missive with the same demand;

IP BAN THEM!


It's happened often enough that I really need to say something in public on the issue; I know it won't necessarily get around to everyone but writing a journal on the subject at least makes me feel a bit better and I know the information will at least reach a small portion of the community and that's always a good thing.

I think the demands for IP bans are so prevalent because of a misunderstanding of how connecting through the internet actually works; I've noticed that usually it's younger members who are making the demands.

Maybe half the people who are on the Internet understand that in order to be there you must have an Internet Service Provider (or ISP) and that ISP assigns your connection an IP address.

At the risk of oversimplifying imagine that the Internet was a long hallway full of of locked doors and ownership of the various doors were all divided up among the different ISPs. When you want to enter the hallway which makes up the Internet your ISP tells you which door you can use and gives you the key to that door.

An IP ban essentially boards up and padlocks a door from the inside so that nobody can use it.

I think the main problem is that most people's understanding ends there.

What escapes most people is the fact that most ISPs swap IP addresses between their customers or allow multiple customers to access through one address, so most people don't always have the same address.

Essentially when you want to access the hallway the ISP just gives you the first available key and when you are done and leave the internet you give the key back and it's passed to the next person who needs one; essentially you usually wind up entering the hallway through a different door every time.
In addition you need to consider Proxies; essentially doors which are left deliberately unlocked so that anyone can come and go as they please.

The choices that we are presented with for IP bans amount to placing a single ban on a single address (the equivalent of the old sniper adage "One Shot- One Kill") or a ban on an entire range (the equivalent of "Nuke'Em All & Let God Sort'Em Out").

Obviously with IP addresses being swapped around so much with so many ISPs and the fact that there are so many proxies out there a single IP address ban obviously won't work in all situations; as a matter of fact it won't work at all with anybody who is both determined and internet savvy.

Having ruled out single address bans we have the broader range bans. The problem there is that broad range bans affect more than just the person you want it to affect. If we ban an entire ISP range we're not just affecting that one guy you want us to, we're affecting everybody who uses that ISP and that can easily amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of people.

I would hope that it would be apparent that we aren't going to take such a significant action against huge numbers of innocent bystanders simply because someone told you that your characters head was shaped like a pear.

So basically what I ask is, please don't demand IP bans as the solution for your problem because they either don't work the way you think they do, the one we might consider giving won't work for your problem or, quite frankly, your problem probably doesn't justify the measures we'd need to implement to make it work.

  • Mood: Content

Help Shape Policy For Favorites Cheating

Journal Entry: Thu Sep 3, 2009, 12:36 PM


Favorites Cheating:
Help Shape Policy

It was quite a number of years ago that deviantART introduced :+fav: Favorites and then of course recently that was augmented with Collections.

Now as long as Favorites have been around there have been people trying to exploit them, cheat their way onto the Most Popular listing and make a quick grab at prestige and the easy road to collecting more of those pageviews so many of you treat as the most important reason for being here.

Favorites cheating isn't as common, or as easy, as it used to be.

In the old days "Popuarity" was simply a matter of counting how many Favorites a deviation had so it was a guarantee that if you pumped out a couple of hundred accounts you never intended on ever really using and used them to flood Favorites onto your own deviation you'd be assured a spot on the daily top listing.

Nowadays Most Popular isn't just as simple as counting :+fav: Favorites; it's a whole complex formula which weighs a bunch of different factors.

This formula is why the daily listings aren't constantly locked up by the same people over and over and it's why insanely popular things which people pour buckets of Favorites on automatically and without thought don't dominate any more.

So the old grind of logging in, browsing, Favoriting, logging out, ad nauseum to a hundred accounts in an attempt to crack the Most Popular list isn't a guaranteed shoe-in anymore but some people are still willing to give it a go and try.

Every three months or so we get a red flag that directs us to someone who wanted more attention or more prestige and who decided the best path was cheating.

The staff here have a large amount of experience investigating cases involving cheating and a good number of community minded individuals out there also notice when it's happening as well so nobody gets away with it for very long.

Ultimately the Favorites system is based upon an honor system which allows works to rise and fall in the rankings based on legitimately granted Favorites and when someone does get caught manipulating the system for personal attention and prestige not only are they cheating and violating our policies against exploiting the system but they are also violating the trust which we place in everyone that you will be a responsible member of the community.

When you demonstrate that you are not here to share in the creative spirit of the community but rather that you are here to seek attention and are willing to do whatever it takes to obtain that attention regardless of whether or not you need to cheat and exploit our systems to get it you can expect to get yourself banned.

So getting yourself banned for some period of time is pretty standard, but what we'd like is some community input on what to do with the deviations and/or entire gallery of the person who just got banned for manipulating the system.

We think that community input is important because ultimately people cheating in this way are betraying the community and I want to give everyone a chance to voice what should be done with the works involved.

I have a Poll here realitysquared.deviantart.com/… which will be up until 18 September 2009

Vote, give input, pass it around to your friends and give us a sampling of what your opinion is on how we should handle the rare occasion of a deviation cheating it's way into the most popular list.

  • Mood: Content
Last July we here at CEA posted a clarification concerning how we officially define “ pornography ”. This was necessary because of the large amount of misunderstanding concerning the issue and the equally large number of invalid or incorrect reports concerning content that people erroneously though fit the definition. This week we attempt to clarify “Art Theft” reports.

The Moderation reporting system which was launched nearly two years ago, which replaced the older outdated system, contains two categories which allow the reporting of “Art Theft”.

“Art Theft” is a wonderfully vague term which can be used to address a huge number of situations and that term was chosen over the term “Copyright Policy Violation” or “Copyright Infringement” because it was simpler and more easily connected to by the vast majority of our community here and we wished to have labels which were simple and easily understood on the new moderation system after seeing the difficulty that some had understanding the more accurate technical terms used on the older system.

The choice of “Art Theft” as a label and the easy accessibility of the new system quickly led to an explosion of reports which quickly exceeded the ability of the staff to resolve them as quickly as they were made and this led very quickly to a backlog developing which lasts to this day.

Unlike many other websites we here at deviantART entertain reports from just about anyone who has a concern that a work is being used without permission rather than restricting reports to only the owners of the work and their authorized representatives. The Moderation system category of “Art Theft (General)”, or (CV) as they are abbreviated by staff,  is offered by deviantART voluntarily as such an option; accepting complaints from just anyone is not required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

This freedom that we give to our community enables artists to watch out for the interests and rights of other artists, which is a good thing which we wish to encourage, but at the same time it multiples the weekly workload by a factor of ten by generating thousands of extra reports, which is a bad thing which produces backlog and long delays.

Early this year, in January, we modified the system to include a separate category “Theft of MY Work”, or (MY) reports as they are abbreviated by staff, which was intended to be used exclusively by copyright owners so that these reports could be readily sifted from the thousands of others and given immediate attention.

The “Theft of MY Work” (MY) category was designed to be used by owners who have deviantART accounts and the category is closely compliant to the formal requirements outlined in the DMCA for copyright infringement complaints which you can find on our <a href=”about.deviantart.com/policy/co…>Copyright Policy page. Because of the fact that owners exclusively use the (MY) category these reports are given the most immediate attention and are handled before any other type of moderation report.

Since the launch of (MY) reports, “Art Theft (General)” (CV) reports are given a lower priority and may experience much longer wait times before they are reviewed. This lower priority is not due, as some may claim, to a tolerance for “art theft” but rather because (CV) reports are rife with various problems, most of which are due to the fact that these reports are not filed by the actual copyright owner.

Unfortunately many of the “General” reports experience an extreme lack of ‘due diligence’ by the people filing the report; whereas several years ago reports being filed would clearly show that the reporting person knew exactly who the original artist was and could make an argument which showed why the deviant and the original artist were not the same person the typical “General” report being filed today amounts to little more than guesswork and suspicion.

In the past links to ‘evidence’ would take the staff to personal websites where there would be enough information to determine whether a deviantART account and personal website were used by the same person, sometimes the personal website would even have a statement denouncing the deviantART account as being an impostor or at the very least we’d have a personal email address which could be used to ask questions before the staff came to any decision.

Too many reports filed now contain links to Photobucket, Imageshack, or some other anonymous image hosting website or links to TinEye showing everywhere the same image appears. These types of links do nothing for showing ownership and cannot be helpful in determining unauthorized use; they only show that the image is popular enough for people to have taken it and redistributed it throughout the Internet.

Too many times staff has discovered that a “General” report is accusing an deviant of stealing from themselves, the “evidence” being a personal website or account in another community or even an old deviantART account used by the same artist. Too many deviantART members maintain multiple accounts and frequent multiple websites to be able to make any automatic assumptions.

The deviantART community has expanded exponentially over the years and we’ve attracted more and more professional artists so the existing culture of which bases “Art Theft” reports on suspicion and guesswork simply cannot be entertained in the manner it may have once been.

We have accounts operated by artists from video game design studios, published comic artists, people involved in the movie industry, and a wealth of other professional people and the staff finds that it is simply not enough for a report to simply accuse wrongdoing any longer because more and more of these reports are being found to accuse artists of stealing from themselves, or stealing from the public domain or not having permission when in fact they do have permission.

The CEA staff has a duty and responsibility to ensure that if we delete something that the deletion be completely justified and the reasoning clear and without doubt and unfortunately most general reports which we have been seeing are not able to satisfy all the requirements.

Some of you who report large numbers of deviations using the “General” category may have noticed that there have been an increase in reports being marked “Invalid” or that the reports “Need Information” which the staff found to be lacking or you may even have been told that while there “might be cause for concern” as an “interested third party” the staff will not act on your report and would prefer that the owner of the work file a complaint rather than you.

Many in the community have tried to explain these staff responses as laziness, stupidity, or even as “allowing art theft”. We’ve also seen people claiming that having a premium membership means that the staff won’t touch your account and a host of other inflammatory or insulting explanations which accuse the staff of not doing the job assigned to them or not caring. The Volunteer Gallery Moderators have also often been the targets of insulting commentary, something which they certainly do not deserve as they are completely uninvolved in the handling of any report.

All of the reasons and explanations which you routinely see in these complaints are incorrect.

General reports will always be marked invalid far more often than reports filed by the actual copyright owner. If your general report is marked as invalid or needing more information it is because your report as an uninvolved third party simply did not demonstrate that a deletion was necessary either because you didn’t satisfactorily prove that the deviant wasn’t the owner of the work or because you couldn’t satisfactorily prove that they didn’t have permission of use.

Taking no action on your general report is not intended to be an insult to you or a dismissal of your concerns, it is a simple statement that your report didn’t contain enough information for the staff to make a responsible decision which could be defended and justified. Every deletion made by staff must be defended and unfortunately statements such as, “Somebody found it posted on Photobucket”, or “Somebody said it was stolen from somebody else”, simply do not justify the deletion of a work.

These stricter standards do mean that some unauthorized submissions will remain posted for a longer period of time but we find it preferable to wait rather than risk a large number of erroneous deletions based upon suspicions and inadequate information.

While some of the community may choose to label this stance as “endorsing art theft” it is not, it is a policy which endorses responsible and justifiable decisions by the staff.

We will continue to accept and review third party reports but since the copyright owner is not directly involved we will continue to hold them to a high standard of evidence and explanation so that the staff involved will be able to make responsible and accurate decisions regarding what, if any, action is required.

If you find what you believe to be unauthorized use of someone’s work, and you know who the author is then your best course of action will always be to notify them and allow them to file the complaint themselves but if you feel the need to become involved and file a report yourself as a concerned third party then you should make the attempt to provide the staff with every bit of factual information you can concerning who you believe to be the actual author and where you believe the work originally came from and please try to understand that if the information you can provide does not amount to much that the staff will take the responsible route of not taking any action until we have sufficient information to act.
Nine years ago when deviantART first opened its doors to artists all over the world it was with the hope that it would prove to be a place where people could express themselves, to be creative and different and original.

If anyone appreciates unique and original works it’s all of us here in CEA, so for deviantART’s ninth birthday celebration we in CEA invited artists to help us send a reminder of that original mission to the community and the world with the Dare to Deviate contest.

Contest entrants needed to combine the slogan Dare to Deviate into an original visual work as creatively and uniquely as possible. We wanted artworks which sent the message that artists should stand out from the crowd and explore uncharted and original territory and dare to deviate from what is considered normal and routine.

We thank everyone who entered the contest and who helped to send our message of creativity to the deviantART community.

Today we announce the winning entries;

First Prize
dare to be different by kimonoitec
Dare to be Different
By kimonoitec

Sometimes simple designs can send the most complex of messages and we thought that kimonoitec
did precisely that with her entry Dare to be Different. While simple and clean in execution the judges believed that her entry best communicated the message embodied in the contest and for that she has been awarded with the First Prize of $50 deviantDOLLARS and the choice of one piece of devWEAR or a Fella Plushie!

Second Prize
The Deviant Book by GanHOPE326
The Deviant Book
By GanHOPE326

While only a deviant for one month his entry The Deviant Book demonstrated what it means to be unique and to stand out from the crowd through creativity. For this he has been awarded the Second Prize of $25 deviantDOLLARS and one tube of Emoticon Stress Balls!

Third Prize
Let your inner light out by Anton42
Let Your Inner light Out
By Anton42

We were immediately struck by the attractive use of the Dare to Deviate which we saw in Anton42s entry Let Your Inner Light Out.The clean design and the unique manner in which the contest slogan was integrated into the work has earned him the Third Prize of $15 deviantDOLLARS and the choice of a deviantART keychain or Emoticon Buttons!

Congratulations to our winners!