The Copyright & Etiquette Administration here at deviantART is often presented with challenges, one of the most basic and important of which involves helping artists enforce their rights over their own original work. While this may seem to be a very clear and easy to understand directive it is complicated almost daily by the simple fact that artists copy one another.
It is inescapable that when you gather millions of artists together into a central location which is filled to the brim with their individual ideas and creativity several things are going to happen; separate artists will submit similar things without ever having heard of the other, artists will inspire other artists who will then make similar looking works, and some artists will blatantly copy other artists.
The last situation is one which causes many in the community some concern.
Deliberate copying can take many forms; direct tracing, painting over, referencing, redrawing, using similar scenes in photography, making a similar skin, using the same stock resources to produce a similar work.
Regardless of how its done copying is looked down upon by many here on deviantART as unoriginal, a cheap shortcut, as cheating, as a form of theft, and when it involves a fandom it tends to be viewed as a cheap and guaranteed way to get popular with little actual effort.
While all of this is true to a certain extent it is also true that the various forms of copying are a completely valid learning tool which is practiced primarily by beginning artists and, quite frankly, those artists who lack the experience and training to compose completely original scenes and themes from scratch.
It is the task of CEA to balance these two concerns without condemning or defending one side or the other.
We understand that some segments of the community will always condemn the behavior while others who practice it will refuse to give it up and while the middle ground which we seek to hold will most likely not make everyone happy we believe that it is the best position available which will allow us to assist artists in enforcing their creative rights while not having to turn away those who are not able to meet some arbitrary test of originality.
To this end current deviantART policy attempts to strike a balance between tolerating a certain level of duplication while making certain that the rights of original artists are supported.
The current policy is as follows;
Reproduction of Existing Works by Any Method
Situations listed under the heading of Not Tolerated will override the situations listed under Usually Tolerated
- Not Tolerated
Reproduction is misrepresented as being something other than a copy of an existing work.
The reproduction exactly duplicates an original work and the owner of the original work files a complaint.
The reproduction targets a stock resource and violates one or more of the Terms and Conditions for use.
The reproduction actually contains elements of the original (i.e. photo showing through paintover).
- Usually Tolerated
The reproduction has been posted into a Fan Art Gallery.
The reproduction has been posted into the Scrapbook area.
The reproduction targets an element of pop culture (i.e. Anime screenshots or official video game content).
The reproduction properly credits the original.
- Normally Tolerated
The reproduction obviously copies an existing work but possesses noticeable and substantial differences.
The reproduction obviously copies an existing work but is noticeably deficient in quality.
The reproduction and the original bare only vague or broad resemblances to each other (i.e. poses, etc).
It is important to note that the only two areas where copied works are deemed acceptable are the Scrapbook and the various Fan Art galleries. The deviantART staff reserves the right to relocate any copied works which are found residing elsewhere without prior notice.