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Submitted on
March 29, 2012


13,290 (4 today)
26 (who?)

How (And Where) To Report Deviations

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

The Galleries here at 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 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.

Add a Comment:
Aerilia Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
whoa there's so much stolen or copied stuff on today's front page!
Seraphylia Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Finally. Now can you PLEASE give the people who were collecting PROOF of the theft their hard-worked SCREENCAPS back?
Khomaa Featured By Owner May 22, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I contacted Warner Brother months ago and yet this atrocity is still around.
DA seems to not realize that major corps don't have time to sort through all the mail or deal with websites that simply can't go "Oh well they obviously didn't make that so we probably shouldn't let them upload this where we smack copyrights onto uploads."
Especially since they have to have documents with uploads which contain work from others that proves they have permission to use that work, why does DA insist on sitting around waiting for the copyright owners to contact DA?
If they don't have the documents, they clearly don't have permission and so shouldn't have them in their gallery..isn't that what that whole document form is for??
Why even have the option to upload a permission form if it means nothing? Is it just for show??
meadow-rue Featured By Owner May 16, 2012   Traditional Artist
I find these the advice offered here rather biased towards the English speaking artist community.
Much of the art theft that takes place here on DA, specifically the kind that tends to rake in undeserved favs and make it to the front page, is from people taking artwork from Japanese art collective website, Pixiv (or perhaps an online gallery that stores stolen artwork from Pixiv).
Many of Pixiv's members do not speak English and/or have Deviantart accounts of their own and are not able to easily file their own reports on stolen artwork. Sometimes even contacting the artist directly can be a problem in itself.
The problem of theft from Pixiv is big enough as it is, without Deviantart placing the reports from 3rd party members in such low/non-existent priority. I understand that reports of theft from the artists themselves have to take priority, but many of my 3rd party reports go unattended entirely or, if I do get a result, is within at least 6 months of reporting. I take extreme care to ensure that the artwork I'm reporting is actually stolen and also to file my report correctly, with sufficient links back to the original artist, but my success rate with reporting can't be any higher than 30%.
glimpses2020 Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2012
This is a very informative article. It gives us all a greater idea about how well or how little our art is protected not only here on dA but throughout the entire industry. Thanks for taking the time to write it. I've missed reading your writings but am very glad you are still here at dA and playing a vital role.
Roasted-Torkoals Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2012

You know how Every single company whom people steal from has the big sign somewhere in the credits saying "All rights reserved. No part of this shall be copied transfered in any way without permission from said company/creator"

That means art thieves and recolorers can't steal it :3

so that means that it's a copyright infragment even though you never contacted the creator

and also you support posters that aren't even the people who posts them's
riverine69 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2012
I really hope that the link you posted in your previous post is a JOKE
that takes each person back to their own deviant art page. Because if it isn't, I would have to get highly pissed off at you.

None of the work on my deviant art page is mine except for some railroad photography that was done by me alone. I have a large file of favorites, and a few pieces of work by other artists that I have properly credited before posting, and some commissions I have had done.

Not funny.
notepadgirl Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2012
The irony of WHERE he is posting this...XD
riverine69 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012
Sir, are you one of the admins for this board? It doesn't state it on your "About Me".

Firstly, I notice you took a phrase from my original statement that I sent to $realitysquared out of context with the remainder of the phrase in a way that makes me look like committed a crime.

As regards the Bud Root illustrations on my dA page, I located them on another website, a website that probably posted them without permission from the artist in the first place. I found them to be beautiful works that I thought I'd like to share with other :devart: members. That was my only purpose. I had no way to actually contact the artist, so I fully credited him when I posted the images.

I've had a number of people Favorite these images, and as an additional tribute to Mr. Root, I include this on every reply to the Faves: "I am not the artist. All credit for the artwork should go to the artist, Bud Root. I found this online and was so impressed by the work I decided to post it on :devart: , If Mr. Root is on dA, I would like to thank him personally for it."

It was not my intention to steal images and present them as my own; and I have no monetary stake in posting them. I just wanted to share what I found with others who enjoy this art.

If you feel the need to contact the admin to remove those images, feel free to do so. I am NOT going to take them down voluntarily.
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