Steps to prevent your artwork from being copied online


Steps to prevent your artwork from being copied online

Access to the internet has helped many artists create awareness around their work online, but it has also brought the challenge of needing to protect your talent. It’s a catch-22 because if you’re not sharing your work online, you’re agreeing to not having your work noticed, but when you do, you could face art theft. It’s important to take proper precaution to ensure that your images are safe and that nobody is using your work without your permission. Here are a few ways that you can protect your work from being stolen:


Only upload low-resolution images

When you put your images on the internet, you’re running the risk of someone selling your work as their own. A great option would be to upload your art images as low-resolution images, which will clearly show the user the small size of the image. Although these images load fast, low-resolution images are less likely to be downloaded because of the poor, pixelated quality. In the event that someone is interested in buying one of your art pieces, let them get in touch with you separately for image requests.


Add a copyright notice to your art piece

Copyright is one of the more popular protection options because it gives you a license for that specific image or product. It’s a great way to protect your art because it requires people to get permission in order to use it, and it also allows you to request money for your work. A copyrighted image usually includes a logo at the bottom which protects your electronic work from being used for resale reasons. Even if people do choose to steal your work, whether it’s copyrighted or not, at least you have legal rights to address it.


Use a watermark on your image

One of the easiest ways to protect your art online is with a watermark. It still gives viewers full access to view the image, but since the logo takes up the majority of the image, they will not be able to use it for other purposes. A watermark allows you to use a copyright notice or a watermark logo to protect your intellectual property, and no matter how or where they use it, the image will show up as a watermark. If possible, make sure it takes up a large space in case someone tries to remove it with Photoshop.


Have a website where people can contact you

When you set up your own website portfolio to showcase your work, try and make it easy for people to navigate to your contact details. You’ll find this type of ‘open’ communication channel will encourage people to rather get in touch and ask for permission before they simply take it.

While you’re on your website, try and embed your images into the CSS code of your site. This means that you can then subsequently upload a clear picture to place over the top, so if anyone tries to save your image, it will save as a blank square. Although it might seem time-consuming, it’s worth it.


Take action when you find out that someone is using your work

Whenever you’ve found someone using your work without permission, take action immediately. It’s important to monitor these violations so that future artists can also start creating a culture where people appreciate and respect art without simply using it for free. For example, specific African art styles are unique to their owners, and if these artists have not taken the right precautions for safety, it’s their own fault. If they have, it’s illegal for people to use these images for personal or commercial use. These actions need to be addressed so that people are aware of the consequences.


Disable the right-click function

Depending on the website you choose to showcase your work, you should be able to disable the right-click function on your images. This means that people will no longer be able to save your images unless they screenshot the image and save it to their computer. All of these tips take time and effort to execute, but if you’re scared of being cloned and you don’t want anyone to use your art without your consent, then, unfortunately, these are the levels of security that you’re going to have to consider.


Final words

Art in South Africa is currently undergoing a transformation where people are starting to appreciate creativity more, and they’re understanding the reasoning behind paying for art online. Most internet users are unaware of the price you’ll pay, as they strongly believe that everything online is free of charge. Saving and downloading images are illegal unless you have been given the rights to do so.

It is our responsibility to change African art and how people feel about creativity. It’s time to educate people about the price they need to pay for a piece of art. Protecting your work should never be so much of a problem that it distracts you from what you love, but it certainly takes time and dedication to understanding the risks you’re taking without doing so. Once you do, your work will be safe and protected.