Why Do Some People...

Think pictures/images should be free?  I, like so many others, have often wondered about this.  When you're in the business of art, sooner or later, you'll see someone you know - be a famous artist or one of your artist friends - become a victim of art theft of one kind or another.  And sadly, sooner than I had ever thought, I've come across it, too.  Multiple times.

Most are fairly harmless, though rather infuriating cases.  DeviantART is full of art thieves, but most of them are newly joined members (under age) who desperately crave attention.  Because of their need for recognition and attention, they will either download or save someone's art they see on the site and upload it onto their account and claim they painted/drew it.  Some would even go as far to alter the image just slightly (e.g. mirror the image, edit the colors a little, add their own poorly attempted watermark without removing the original watermark).  Luckily, in my case, I have enough followers and they either report the cases to me so I can take action, or more often, they'll take action by commenting on the offfenders' profile.  As rampant as art theft is on deviantART, their customer service desk's action on art theft is swift.  On cases where I made reports personally, most have been taken care of within hours, not days, weeks, month... HOURS.  I like them for that.  It seems to be vastly superior compared to sites like Pinterest, Facebok, etc....

As an artist who sells digital stamps, file sharing is a concern.  When a customer reports that one of her friends tried to talk her into swapping some files, it saddens me.  It's a clear indication that these few people just don't understand the harm they're doing to the art community at large.  These file 'sharing' (What a nice word!) people clearly do not believe in paying for images.  I doubt that they routinely shoplift from a brick and mortar store that sells physical goods.  There's this perception, a lingering perception, that digital goods (images, PDF files of books, music) somehow fall outside of the 'you pay for it' concept.

Perhaps not as guilty as those who steal, but just as annoying, are those who think 'asking for permission to use image' means 'getting to use it for FREE'.  I no longer agree to any of these requests unless the exposure is fairly large that being seen pays off in some way (or there is, at least, a 'perception' that there could be something in it for me).  Among those asking for "permission", the most offensive has to be the 'asking for permission to use image for a tattoo" crowd.  These people are willing to pay good money to their tattoo artists, but they expect to get your image for free.  Makes no sense to me at all.  And my short answer is always 'no'.  I've had people innocently ask me "But isn't it flattering that they like it so much they ask for a permission?".  Not really.  I don't know where on the body it's going to be.  I don't know how good (or bad) the tattoo artist is going to be.  And flattery does not put food on the table nor roof over my family's head.

Music industry has suffered immensely.  Art community continues to suffer as well.  There seems to be a  perceived detachment between the product and the person who produced it.  The art/image these thieves (and people who refuse to pay for it) see is not connected to an individual artist who made it.  And they definitely do not see these artist are people just like you and me, who have family (at the least, themselves) to support.   And that's what saddens me the most.  I know that majority of the artists who sell digital stamps are not hugely successful million-dollar companies.  Most are micro-business of one artist doing all the work.  Art is their source of income.  By sharing and swapping files among "friends", these people are stealing from the artists (and their families).  By sharing and swapping, they force small companies to close and individual artists to stop selling digital stamps.  So despite the appearance that "they're not hurting anyone", the contrary is true.  They're hurting individual artists, companies that represent these artists, and the whole field of digital stamps and the paper crafting community.

The anonymity afforded by the web experience, no doubt, plays a role in the rampant art theft and file sharing.  As much as I tried to be available and be engaged with my fans on Facebook and through my shop communications, there'll always be those who think nothing about file sharing of digital stamps because they think that anything and everything that's on the Internet is free for taking.

I don't want to wrap up my post in a negative tone, so I'll say this.  I'm fortunate to know thousands of good, honest people who pay for my digital stamps.  In the short amount of time I've been in the business, these kind and creative people have really embraced my art by purchasing my digis and creating beautiful projects and showing them online in various places.  They send me words of encouragement, thanks, and so much love.  So the overwhelmingly large majority of the positive will completely overshadow the few bad cases that pop up here and there.  In the end, it is a reflection of the cross section of life in general.  Some good, some bad.  I'll keep going 'sharing' my art by selling my digital stamps with those who enjoy it.  I will align my energy with the positive people and things in my life.   And secretly pray that karma will be a b*#$^ to those who do bad.


  1. Well written and well said.
    Linda xxx

  2. So sad that this still is such a problem for artists. You'd think there would be some kind of way to protect your intellectual property/art/music, by now. I can't say that I'm not worried you'll follow suit, and stop making your artwork available to the masses for this very reason. I'm down to four letter words now, so I had better get going...

    1. I file all my images with the US Copyright Office. So if there's a blatant illegal activity going on, I have a case (lawyers will have something to work with and judges will take it seriously). But these individuals that share files... they're like cockroaches scurrying about unseen. ^^;

  3. VERY well said Mitzi, and again I am so so sorry this has happened. I LOVE digi images and yours are Top Notch! I know how much time and love you put into each image and it really saddens me to know that people are stealing. sorry, no other word for it. they are THIEVES!
    I am glad that you know it is a small part of the people that do this and MOST of us are honest people that LOVE your art and it brings us so much joy.

  4. Very well written Mitzi I have been a victim of this and not only from beginners but from so called professional artists and the thing is if they would credit or ask me I would have given permission but no they are too proud to do that , one thing to get inspired another thing to flat out steal someone's work,but I guess some people are too proud to even say they have any inspirations .im sorry you had to go through this xoxo


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