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Currently the fuss over the Terms of Service is Clause 16 and the only reason that this clause is causing a problem is because the people concerned with it stop reading there or read it in isolation without looking at all parts of the Terms.

But first things first- here's clause 16;


Clause 16

16. Copyright in Your Content

deviantART does not claim ownership rights in Your Content. For the sole purpose of enabling us to make your Content available through the Service, you grant to deviantART a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, re-format, store, prepare derivative works based on, and publicly display and perform Your Content. Please note that when you upload Content, you allow third parties to copy, distribute and display your Content.


Now the concern is over that last bolded line. That line is there to make certain that people are aware that others may download, view, display and use their art for personal uses. A good example of a ‘Personal Use’ is my own personal screensaver which rotates through a wide selection of awesome artworks I've downloaded from deviantART expressly as part of my screensaver and for inspiration for my own original projects. When I’m not actively working my computer monitor becomes a changing digital canvas displaying artwork in my living room.

The problem is that people are interpreting it to mean that anybody is allowed to take your art and do whatever they want with it, and if you read only that one clause or stopped reading there that's certainly how it appears.


If you actually read the full Terms you'll see that this isn't the case- you really cannot read just one portion of an agreement, contract or terms statement because many clauses can be affected or modified by other clauses. It is always vitally important to read the entire document.

For those who are looking at Clause 16 in isolation I would like to introduce you to Clause 19. This clause as written contains a lot of ‘distracting material’ because it tries to pack all the possibilities into a small space. For clarity I will remove all but the portions which directly relate to the subject of this article;


Clause 19

19. Conduct
..... You must have the legal right to copy, distribute and display all parts of any content that you ..... download and otherwise copy, distribute and display. Content provided to you by others, ..... (is) are protected by copyright and should not be uploaded, downloaded, or otherwise copied, distributed or displayed without the consent of the copyright owner or as otherwise permitted by law.



Clearly you can see that the Terms of Service, when read in its entirety and not selectively quoted from, is not a 'free-for-all' contract for thieves and brigands. That’s not to say there are not those out there who will insist on reading selectively from the Terms and twisting the true intent but this official news article can now be used as an educational weapon against those who attempt to do so.

Read the the Terms of Service in full here

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Darklordd Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013
and what of resource/stock images that give permission for use?
dragon4343 Featured By Owner May 12, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Question! If you take someone's artwork, and redraw it yourself, is that still stealing artwork as long as you give credit to the original artist and drawing? I think I've only done it twice, and people have been hounding me for it, even though I give credit to the original.
S3RG3J Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2010
Without permission of the original's copyright holder it's illegal to redraw, even if you give credit.
dragon4343 Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Okay. Thanks for the information. I'll clean out those couple drawings.
otherunicorn Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2007
I long ago realised that clinging to copyright with both hands is a waste of time. The reality is that my hard work in producing all my art is worth next to nothing. People aren't going to pay for it. I want people to see it I want people to enjoy it. If that means loosening my grip and having people help themselves to it for whatever reason, so be it. I create it for my own pleasure. I get more pleasure if people look at it and even leave the odd comment. If someone "steals" it, good luck to them. I hope they enjoy looking at it. They do so with my blessing.
AWdeV Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007
very informative, I should've seen it sooner :slow:
deadwarrior1 Featured By Owner Aug 25, 2007   Digital Artist
Deviantart is a BUSINESS, and as part 16 of your terms you say:

"16. Copyright in Your Content

deviantART does not claim ownership rights in Your Content. For the sole purpose of enabling us to make your Content available through the Service, you grant to deviantART a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to reproduce, distribute, re-format, store, prepare derivative works based on, and publicly display and perform Your Content."

Sorry, you may NOT "reproduce, distribute, re-format, store, prepare derivative works based on, and publicly display and perform Your Content."

I DO NOT grant you a "royalty free license" to use my work or "prepare derivative works" based on My Content.

You will ASK my permission and you will compensate me for my work.

You will not make changes to my work without my express written permission.

You will not display my work in public without my express written permission.

You not make my work available to you partners without my express written permission.

It's because of these Terms I don't upload my work to your site.

Folks, upload your work to Renderosity, and while your at it, read about DeiviantArt's, partners.

Don't waste your time or your art here.
AWdeV Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007
have you even read the article? or did you just start shamelessly advertising your own site withouth reading?
NalaFontaine Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2007  Student General Artist
I think it's pretty obvious.
post something on the net, other ppl get access to it and do what ever they want.
basically, it applies to anywhere on the net.
just don't give the whole thing.
then of course there is the purpose of the DA community, to see to it that copyrights are not violated. we're helping eachother out :)
980256 Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2007
I have no problem with others copying my "content"; they're only pictures afterall and it's not like this is the only place where I store them...
kimnghs Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2007
wow, i've never really read that.

So now are we allowed to use other's pictures?
AWdeV Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007
only personal use :nod:
Zenrei Featured By Owner May 31, 2007   Filmographer
I concur with the interpretation. anyone who has read a real contract know that its all about how it is written. if its a liberal contract, it will state the restrictive clauses. if its not, it will state the liberal cluases and with this i mean the following. the "terms of use" is a living organism, in which it is continuously being added new clauses or amendments to the previous clauses, like all other contracts in the world, they server to clarify, extend and specify the reach of all clauses in the contract. as you can see the 16th clause allowes you "distribution" this means anything, and if the contract had not been amended with the 19th clause, this "would" have ment, watever it is you wished it to mean. that said the 19th clause is in place and this clause does not trample on the 16th clause rather clarifies it to wich extent "distribution.... with author's consent". this is true to all contracts in cluding the constitudion,(yes the constitution is a contract). P.S.: there is a clause in the constitution that states "this document should be revised and updated every 20-100 years"[paraphrasing], im under the impression it hasnt been "revised" in its lifespan" (revised and amended = different things)
VCTORY Featured By Owner May 22, 2007
7Seraphim Featured By Owner May 22, 2007   Digital Artist
Yes! very informative. Thank you
fabulousmoi Featured By Owner May 21, 2007
So, if people have a download button next to their art, isn't that permission?

Not to sell and redistribute, but at least to use like you mentioned about your screensaver correct?
blacxthornE Featured By Owner May 23, 2007
yes. if a deviation has a download button that means that the deviant permits you to download it for your own use. not for selling, redistributing, copying, or even displaying in public. it's for yout own use only: as a wallpaper, screensaver, or using it in your own computer (especially if it's something other than an image, like icons, cursors, skins etc.) and... that's pretty much it.
CrimsonTigress Featured By Owner May 16, 2007  Professional Traditional Artist
So if someone says explicitly that their work can not be put, say, in news articles without prior permission; the wish of the artist must be honored or risk repercussions?
AWdeV Featured By Owner Sep 15, 2007
it should be...
SutekiUchiha92 Featured By Owner May 16, 2007
JPringlePhoto Featured By Owner May 13, 2007
Thanks, it helps to get out there in the world and see what else I can be inspired through...[link]
ProdigyBombay Featured By Owner May 10, 2007   Digital Artist
What you meant for it to mean and what it says are two different things. I'm sure there is a way of phrasing clause 16 in a way that correctly portrays what you mean.
Ciardubh Featured By Owner May 8, 2007  Professional General Artist
Nice explained, but aren't people supposed to READ the terms of service IN FULL before they sign up, so you know.....

Still, I do think it would make sense to disable right-click on the website. People would freak-out less, and there is still the download button for people. Not that there aren't a million different ways to get the picture off the website if someone really wanted, but you get my drift...
ibr-remote Featured By Owner May 4, 2007
So call me anal-retentive but I still don't like that sentence in bold.
Almonaster Featured By Owner May 2, 2007
I think what may have got lost in all the "wow thank you for explaining" is that all the explanations in the world WILL NOT CHANGE the legal interpretation of the TOS.

Some of us have serious concerns about this, and have attempted to explain exactly what those concerns are. What I would like to see is an official acknowlegement from DA that they understand those concerns, and will look into the matter further.

Repeated reassurances without any legal substance are of no use to us.
blacxthornE Featured By Owner May 10, 2007
thanks for being one of those who seem to have a sense of logic. admins seem to be avoiding the matter altogether. i don't understand why they won't even try to make it better, to satisfy deviants.
Almonaster Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2007
Me neither.

I really don't see what we can do beyond keep on bringing it to their attention.
Violineczka Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2007
It's good :D ! :love:
little-reisuke Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2007
KitsuneJM Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2007  Professional Interface Designer
this is a good service agreement. And when concerned, there are watermarks and those various licenses we can have on our art.
persephone1503 Featured By Owner Apr 6, 2007
For some reason, a good understanding of your article is becoming just to hard for some (so it looks from all this comments). This field seems to have a continuous "flow of experts" who offer variations of ideas. Now, there is nothing wrong with new ideas. But there are in fact many extremely intelligent and extremely well-educated people with wide-ranging scientific interests who are active in this field. Try to get some background before you get in too deep (this is for the"flow of experts").
luvtodraw Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2007
You have no idea how much this has helped me! I've used this to prove to many people that they can't copy/use/trace/whatever other people's artworks without their permission first. Thank you so much:hug::worship::glomp::heart:
SenshiUNO Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2007
This is GREAT!! Always good to clarify things!!!
RMA-reborn Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2007
Hrm. Though I appreciate the effort you have made to enlighten the community as a whole to full implcations of the Terms of Service, I have one misgiving.

I remain wary of this policy until I have seen a full, independent, legal evaluation of exactly who can do what with my art.

I will continue to submit art to deviantART, of course - that is the primary reason for this site and my being here - but I am uncomfortable with doing so until I see an independent evaluation. As a student of politics, I don't like something that I am 100% certain is free of 'spin'.


~ RMA-reborn.
UF-zero Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2007
As far as clause 16 up there:
"Please note that when you upload Content, you allow third parties to copy, distribute and display your Content." It contradicts clause 19 quoted above. Either of the clauses is fine by itself, but they can not coexist.

That's like saying "Everyone is invited to come to the club XYZ" and then later saying "To come to the club XYZ you must be over 18" Sure you can derive the meaning from this but what're you doing when you do? You're ignoring the first clause and just following the second (or ignoring the 2nd and following the 1st if you got a fake id).

A simple notice like this should be enough: "Do not distribute, modify or display images without explicit permission from the author"

So this would mean people are not allowed to upload your art to their web site, or display it in any other way (on the wall, on the pc etc) unless they ask you. That's the best legal protection you can have. And people don't have to go through tons of reading to find out about it, because most people, when they see a huge policy they just ignore it altogether.

Watermarking is another way... but it destroys the artwork, defeating the purpose of displaying it in the first place. I can't appreciate an artwork when it's got COPYRIGHTED written right across the middle of it with huge letters.

A good alternative is to "sign" your work artistically. For example on that check out kkart's gallery ([link]) he signs his images in completely unobtrusive way.

Some may wonder how does this physically prevent people from cutting the picture up and displaying other parts?? Well, after they'we read that they're clearly not allowed to do that, and they still go ahead and do it what can you do? If it's a commercial web site you can go against them in a legal way and win. But if it's something like myspace, you might try shutting down their account, but does it worth it? He'll just open a new one. A disrespectful person like that probably won't have any following anyway, why care about them at all.

There're people who bring cameras and photograph physical galleries even though they're not allowed to. Bottom line is if you create something and expose it the public, there will always be people who will try to "steal" it. And this applies to any medium -- photos, paintings, music, film, etc.

They can steal all they want, but they'll never achieve originality this way -- theirs will always look like a cheap imitation/rip-off. And when someone comes across your original, there's no mistaking.
oaksong Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2007
I watermark with Digimarc. It's indelible and invisible. Anyone editing my work with Adobe is notified by the next to the name in the title bar that there is a copyright.
Can people violate copyright? They do it all the time. But if your work is used fraudulently in a major fashion, you'll probably find out about it and you can take everyone involved to court. Aside from that, I don't post anything large enough to be printable at more than 8x10, so I'm not really concerned.
SutekiUchiha92 Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2007
look it's not like that i've been tryiing to upload some stuff.
please realize that I'm only in ninth grade, I have just got out of spring break (a/n: I had ti clean house all week and I'm still working on it ..) My mom would not let me on the computer, my laptop is broke you have no idea hoew much that pissed me off....

Note to everybody I have Dance on Tuesdays right after school (ends at 3:00). I have to homewood at 4:00. I go to school at moody high school.

I'm still working on the pictures,just give me a few days, All my teachers pile work on us... don't get wrong though, they only want us to pass.... I get them in as soon as I can.

P.s someone will have to help me with coloring on some of the pictures, sorry if I made you angry....oh is there any way I can Change my screen name? I want to Change It to Demoness_Kohaku92(a/n: My friend told my actual japanese name and I couldn't figure if
I could change it or not.

Nightshadow22 Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2007
If you do not want people downloading your art for their desktop/screensaver why not add watermark/copyright to the image? I know many already do that and the art still looks nice and those that want it can still contact you to buy originals/prints etc. . I think the agreement is a bit unclear however I understand it as people can download for personal use but can not change or sell for a profit. Please don't flame me for not having many pics in my gallery I have been inactive for a long time and just recently came back and subscribed.
blacxthornE Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2007
watermarks almost always can be "taken care of".

at least for some people who think that "if it doesn't say it's copyrighted, then it must be free to use", it's better to use watermarks so that they at least absolutely know what they're about to do is illegal, hopefully some change their minds. it also helps for malicious people who cannot, or won't bother to deal with the watermarks.

so it may help a lot... still, it's not an ultimate solution. simply, having watermarks doesn't mean your work won't get used.

downloading art to use on personal desktop or screensaver (maybe arguably) is not illegal, even if the work is copyrighted. it would probably fall under the description of "fair use". even if it doesn't, i don't think many people have problems with their art being used as someone's personal desktop image. the real problem is when people want to use the work publicly, in a gallery or a website, for commercial uses, and so on... so if what you understand from this agreement is true, that people cannot sell for profit, then there's no problem. but i suggest that it is possible to sell (=distribute) someone else's work based on the bold statement from clause 16.
patronus-light Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2007  Hobbyist Photographer
make the images no bigger than the printable size of an 8x10 or 5x7, not much can be done with those sizes...
Diabcio Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2007
yeah people are like they are. Nice :) I agree with you :)
PurpleChaos Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2007
Unfortunately, there may continue to be misinterpretations or misuse unless it is clarified... I suggest amending the last line:
" ... to download content for personal, non-commercial use only. Any such works remain the property of the original author."
drayke-tslo Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2007
i read the terms, and undertood.

never the less thanx for clarifying- some people stll are afriad to share thier work
gin88 Featured By Owner Mar 21, 2007
Just make this fact clearly on the first page of the website, before being able to access the art.
all4hermies Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2007
This article is awesome, and very helpful with the people having problems with it.
theNYBshow Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2007
Of course I know that Deviant Art is useful in displaying my artistic work on the internet, but when push comes to shove, anyone can share the visual/digital representation my work in whatever online, printable fashion they want, but they can never own the 'real thing,' the real thing being my hard, original copy from my house.

In the end, it's only going to be my copy that they need to get any kind of actual 'profitable' use from it. It's my choice to upload pictures of it, and it's the admirer's right to inquire to me about obtaining the actual copy to get actual profitable use from it. Digital copies mean nothing! Right?

It's the real physical thing they need. And only we have those. (not pertaining of course to digital photography or art, which can be reproduced as easily as an mp3; but even if you have an mp3, it means more to hear the artist perform it for you for themselves) (sorry...Rambling)

We pour out our soul on canvas and use it ass we wish via the DA contract. In any case, thanks to DA for clarifying the deal.
trinity912 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2007
When was the last time DA arranged a legal counselor to adjust their documentation.....DA doesn't give 2 cents worth for its artists....anyone who wants to protest my claim...bring it on, I would love to hear why you think other wise!!!
rose-tennyo Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
well not readding all that hoo-ha, but i think that its unfair that if somebody sends you the pic that they copied or downloaded, that you get introuble for that.
that has happened to me on several ocassions.

so i dont know how this is going to play role but take that into account.
Docco Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2007
Ok far as I can tell people are still misinterpreting these clauses. The whole stress over the bolded line "Please note that when you upload Content, you allow third parties to copy, distribute and display your Content." seems totally unnecessary, it allows other people to download your submissions via DA and distribute or display them, what it DOES NOT do is allow them to edit, use (partially or wholly) for another submission or for any form of profit.

Clause 19 however DOES STATE you are specifically NOT allowed to edit, use (partially or wholly) for another submission any artwork submitted through DA; found in "You must have the legal right to copy, distribute and display all parts of any content that you upload, download and otherwise copy, distribute and display.". Clause 16 only gives them the right to download, copy and distribute the artwork as submitted, it can not be claimed as their own and cannot be used in works of their own without permission from the copyright holder, you!

As for the furore over DA's rights to your material this site has massively expanded since its creation mostly through 'word of mouth' and from displays of exemplary pieces of work. So if anybody can actually say they feel DA has cheated them or used their submissions in any way unbecoming or not in the interests of DA (the website you have chosen to display your creations) then set me straight, but far as I can tell the rights this clause does give them are not abused.
blacxthornE Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2007
that is true, people cannot edit, make derivative works, etc.

but they can copy and distribute. because clause 19 prohibits these acts unless there's permission, and 16 seems to give the needed permission beforehand.
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