Is my art safe on the internet?
If your artwork is visible on the internet, at any size or at any resolution, unfortunately it's impossible to prevent it from being copied or saved. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to make it more difficult for people to do this, and in the event that you find your work has been copied, there are a number of steps you can take to deal with the situation. Below we discuss the differences between sharing and theft and the measures you can take to deal with situations where your work appears somewhere you're not happy with it appearing. We also cover what measures Redbubble has put in place to try and minimise the risk of your artworks being copied.
Theft vs Sharing
If you find your artwork on another site or in another location on the internet, it doesn't necessarily mean bad news. Redbubble exists as a place where you can share your art with the world and gain greater recognition and exposure for your works so we encourage and support the sharing of work if done correctly and with respect to the original artist.
If you are credited and the thumbnail image links back to your Redbubble profile, these are signs that the person who has placed your work there has done so with good intention. It's likely they are trying to give your work more exposure because they admire it. They are directing people back to the source and they're not claiming the work is their own. If you're still not comfortable with your work appearing there, then you can ask for it to be removed. Most people will be happy to oblige. Our experience has shown a polite email to the person, requesting the image is removed is usually all it takes to resolve the situation. We suggest you try this as your first course of action.
In cases where people are not crediting the original artist and where they are claiming the work as their own, we may have a more serious issue. Again, it's worth keeping in mind that the person may not be acting maliciously. In many cases we find there's a real lack of understanding when it comes to issues of both etiquette and law relating to works found online.
Action you can take if your art has been copied:
1) In cases where the works are displayed without correct credit or links, we'd recommend contacting the individual directly requesting they do so.
2) In cases where the works are displayed without correct credit or link and you'd like them removed altogether, we'd recommend politely contacting the individual asking for them to be removed.
3) In cases where the works appear for sale or where someone is claiming the work as their own, contact the individual asking that the works be removed immediately. We'd also recommend contacting the site administrators to alert them to the behaviour.
Like Redbubble, most websites have a team of people behind the scenes who deal with these issues on a day to day basis. When artists have contacted sites like Flickr, Polyvore and others in the past, they've responded in a reasonable timeframe and they've dealt with the matter professionally and swiftly. The key thing we want to explain is that in most cases and on most websites there are systems put in place so that when these things happen, there are ways they can be dealt with. Gathering together all your friends and supporters to protest or harass the person or website can feel like a great thing to do but it's not usually required.
How do I discourage people from copying my art?
Unfortunately no website can provide a 100% guarantee that your work will not be copied. Sites like Redbubble offer a number of alternatives that make it more difficult to reproduce anything more than a low quality thumbnail. These include:
- only provide low resolution previews of your work
- watermark your work
- using a clear GIF
- disable right clicking
Which of these does Redbubble do?
Redbubble only ever provides a low resolution preview of your work. It looks great on a computer screen but if you were to print one out, it would not be of a sellable quality, and enlarging it would only make the quality much worse. We also provide the option for you to use a small or large watermarks on the larger preview of your work. This can be turned on in your account details. We don't place a watermark on the smaller thumbnails as our research has shown it deters people from looking at and purchasing your work. We still want people to admire your art.
You can also enable a transparent/clear “GIF.” This means is that when someone tries to right click and save your work all they get is an empty file with no image. If you do use the clear GIF, please keep in mind that you will not be able to post your images in Redbubble forums or elsewhere around the site.
Why doesn’t Redbubble disable right clicks?
Right clicking enables members to create image and text links on Redbubble. It is a good usability tool that allow people to link your work and give you exposure. We feel that to remove right clicking would cause more harm than good and we believe it wouldn't give any greater protection than the measures that are already in place. The Redbubble team all have work on display on Redbubble and we’ve made these decisions with our own art in mind too.