Are you guys scared at all about anyone stealing your art? What should designers do about it if it happens?

I want to post my own art at Instagram or Deviant, now that I'm improving but all the time I hear of people saying that some guy stole their art and posted it as his own and stuff like that, and I want to show my art to get critiques and advice but I don't really want someone to do that to me.

Someone told me use watermark but Watermark is not helpful for me. For example i will remove dredd from stock photo :(

Stock Image Free to use its just an example guys ;)

So Watermark is not Helpful.

  • 7
    I can't believe you stole that Dredd artwork to post this!
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:12
  • 3
    You can use watermarks instead of watermark. I mean a watermark of patterns. The watermark can be repeat on image and removing it with clone stamp will be painful for thief. Like this: istockphoto.com/image-zoom/45295850/3/380/380/… Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:16
  • 5
    The only possible, sure fire, way to prevent any image theft is to never put anything online. There's no other way. If it's seen on screen, it can be lifted and altered if desired.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 16:06
  • 1
    No there isn't. That was my point.
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 17:50
  • 4
    Probably as designers on the contrary we should be scared if no one is trying to steal or mimic our work. :o)
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:59

7 Answers 7


Are you guys scared at all about anyone stealing your art?

No. Not scared. It's of no immediate risk to me if someone downloads an image I created.

What would you guys do about it if it happens?

If there is clear intent to profit off my work, I may then decide to fight it through legal channels. What those channels are depends heavily on your location on this planet and the location of the infringer.

As mentioned, there really aren't technical ways to handle it. Copyright infringement is a legal construct--not a technical one. Watermarks are about as best you can do but, honestly, I've never seen a watermark make an image look better. :)

  • i live in IRAN, we don't have any any any copyright law for Artwork or Software or ... :( Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:24
  • google.com/… Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:25
  • 5
    @DevelopersPedia at that point, I think you just need to be a good self-promoter. Promote yourself as being a known entity. Posting to a known entity like Deviant Art is a good start. At least with a popular site, anyone stealing from you is more likely to be caught and--if not prosecuted--perhaps publicly shamed.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:33
  • thats the point. i can do it very well. Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:36

There isn't much you can do to stop someone from stealing your artwork. The only way is to not posting your artwork online. A watermark will not be 100% effective but it will help. I also wouldn't upload 100% quality large artwork.

Another more tedious way (only work on personal site) is to split an image into multiple images and place them next to eachother. This could be more work than it is worth.

Also if you have your own website. You can tell Google to not catalog your images. This will make the image not searchable in Google. This code would go into your robots.txt file.

User-agent: Googlebot-Image
Disallow: /

One thing I wouldn't do is stop people from right-clicking on a personal website. I think this is an ineffective way at preventing theft and will cause more of a usability issue for most users than for people taking your work.

I wouldn't let the possibility of someone taking your art stop you from exposing your artwork online. You can always reverse image search your artwork as well.

  • 2
    You can't split an image for other type of media outlets. The best method is using a watermark if you're afraid of someone using your images.
    – AndrewH
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:15
  • 2
    Splitting an image into multiples is also super easily overcome via a screen shot.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:18
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    @DevelopersPedia there is no technical way to prevent it, if that's what you are asking. If you're posting online, assume anyone can get it.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:32
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    @DevelopersPedia There is no current known technology that allows you to make it possible to show a image to a person without simultaneously sharing the image. This technology is under works, it horribly early days for it tough. This is nothing to laugh at if you could come up with technology like that EVERY SINGLE MEDIA COMPANY ON THE PLANET would buy it form you in a heartbeat, nearly no matter the cost.
    – joojaa
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 15:02
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    @joojaa I doubt there's any future technology as well. Every time they invent the next-best copy protection technology, it's trivially broken within a few weeks.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:46

I know you say watermark is not helpful but, did you think in put a signature in the artwork? Is the most popular method for artists in DA. I don't know if it's effective or not.

It's fast and easy solution.

  • what about other websites ? Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:17
  • 1
    I don't know what about others, DA is the only one that I look. but in my opinion is the cleanest way to put watermarks. No hidden art, with ideal size and can be used as background perfectly.
    – Amanda
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 18:24

There is no foolproof way to stop it, but one way to limit the unauthorized usage of your artwork is to restrict the resolution that it's displayed in. This seems to me like it would be the best deterrent. If the image is good enough to be seen on the screen, but otherwise useless in any sort of production environment, then it makes people much less likely to just up and steal your art.

Using your wallpaper example, what good is an image with the resolution of 480x300 when 1920x1200 wallpapers are what people really want? Limiting the hosted image to a lower resolution allows people to view it, but keeps them from using it without obtaining the full resolution version.

Of course, if you plan on selling your work, then you'll need to deliver full resolution pieces somehow, but using a paywall and alternate delivery system would also prevent a lot of theft.


Somebody copying your artwork for commercial purposes is about the best thing that could happen to you. Federal Copyright law allows you to sue them for as much as $250,000 if they do it.

As far as penniless kids copying your artwork, I would not sweat it.

In all honesty, the publicity you get from people copying your work is worth much more than any "lost income". And, like I said above, if in the off chance you really do lose income (like some national magazine using your image without your permission), just the threat of a lawsuit will cause them to send you a VERY large check.

  • This is truly only if you're registered your copyright in the US. If it's not registered, it's much harder to collect damages. And publicity is only good if it is attributed to you. If not, then it's not worth anything.
    – DA01
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 17:59

When one focuses on the negative on loss sight at the whole picture. Look at it this way:

Your not getting any money for the pictures if they are hidden. Your not getting exposure if they are hidden. If somebody steals them you get free exposure, you aren't getting any money. On the other hand you were not doing so in the first place. So the net result is your winning. You can sue if somebody really misuses your trust (you'd need to do this anyway even if you don't share at all, it can still get stolen other ways).

Once you get a claim on fame you can charge for future commissions. In essence you are not yet a known artist, record label so you can not capitalize on the investment you did not do yet. So you must look at things differently.


Don't worry about it, only one of two things will happen.

  1. A ""nobody"" will steal it and post it somewhere.............. n that's it.... it'll just be somewhere... and people will see it.... maybe even think "wow that's cool"... then move on with their life... and that's it...

  2. Some company will steal it and turn it into a huge billion dollar thing that everyone goes crazy for and spends tons n tons of money to have.

If the first thing happens..... so what.... if the second thing happens GREAT!!!! NOW YOU HAVE A HUGE BILLION DOLLAR MARKET REVOLVING AROUND YOUR WORK THAT YOU CAN ENGAGE AND COLLECT FROM!!!... Sure they'll have that ONE thing you did... but you can come out right behind them like "I got red ones, green ones, blue ones, purple, orange, polka dots, stripes etc. etc."... which that company DOESN'T have. Aside from that you have TONS of other work they HAVEN'T stolen that this same market will LOVE if they love the one they stole. Hiding yourself from the world is NEVER a good solution. You just have to think in an opportunistic way about it all.

  • 1
    In the US, the second scenario requires that you have registered the work with the US Copyright office to make the battle worth your time. You still own your copyright even without registering, but your options for pursuing infringement awards are greatly reduced if not registered.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 6:53
  • I'm not talking about suing them for stealing your work, I'm talking about LETTING THEM RUN WITH THE WORK THEY STOLE to create that huge million dollar market so YOU can come behind them with other products that fit in with it so YOU can rack up on money from the situation...
    – Optiq
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 16:08
  • That sounds nice in theory but is often unrealistic. When Hot Topic steals your logo for their t-shirt, there is no easy way to 'leverage' that market if you are a sole proprietor. One simply wouldn't have the market presence to do much with that to your advantage. Often those that would infringe in the first place are in markets with thin margins to begin with.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 16:20
  • ok.... I know people who've had their work stolen from big companies... and they had their stuff copyrighted... but all those companies had to do was change one little bitty thing about the design and add a couple details and now it was considered a TOTALLY different thing in court... so there was nothing these people could do about it legally. So if you have a bunch of stuff of that same style that these companies DIDN'T steal, there's nothing they can do to you for selling them. Or if you make a couple tweaks and adjustments to what they stole and sell that, still, they can't touch you.
    – Optiq
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 19:06
  • Then in the event where people DO sue and get something, they only get a PERCENTAGE of the profit which is determined in court according to how much of that product is genuinely your creation, the music industry deals with those types of suits on a regular basis, so you can never be sued for EVERYTHING you have, just whatever percentage is determined rightfully theirs, and that's only from that one product.
    – Optiq
    Commented Aug 19, 2015 at 19:08

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