Protecting Your Work Online

I couldn't post this as a How-To so I'm posting as a Topic on here, as you all ought to be made aware of the ways you can protect any work you publish online.


One of the biggest ways to put off artwork thieves is to put up a watermark. When you are placing a watermark onto your artwork, try putting it in the middle of your artwork (if possible). Putting it at the edges of your work makes it that much easier for thieves to crop out.

Having a watermark over your work makes your work looks less attractive to art poachers, this is because watermarks can be difficult to remove and it is fairly likely put most people off having to spend hours in Microsoft Paint or a Photoshop type programme just to remove it.


However you post your work online, some mediums offer to put a watermark on your work.

For example, if you post your work onto deviantART, you can select the option of placing a watermark over your artwork. Just remember in dA the artwork has to be of a certain size. You can add a watermark in dA when you first submit a piece of artwork.

It is possible to make your own watermarks in:
★Paint - Creativemind's tutorial here >
★MS Word >(
★Free Watermark Websites > >
★There are also various pieces of free watermark software which you can download, though I can't recommend anyone as I've never used any myself. I typically use dA's free watermark.


Technically laws in the US and UK claim that when you create a piece and publish it that you own the rights to it.

★Baring in mind that the piece you submitted is something YOU have GENUINLY created and it is actually an origional made by you. You should be protected if someone poaches your work.
★Do not think that if you post SOMEONE ELSE'S work into your account that you own it's rights. Only it's origional owner has those rights.

One way to remind others that you own the copyright of the artwork is to place the (c) copyright symbol in their artwork description.

© (year) by (your name)

...AND underneath that

All Rights Reserved

Also, if you are making your OWN watermark, place the above in your watermark (obviously fill it out with the real year and your name, don't copy that exactly!!).

Those that are offered from an artistic website (like dA) or a website that puts free watermarks onto your art for you should automatically incluce © (year) by (your name) for you.

The (C) should remind people that you have legal ownership of the artwork. The "All Rights Reserved" shows people that only you have the rights to distribute/copy/sell the artwork.

Apparently, having...

© (year) by (your name)
All Right Reserved you an even bigger advantage and a stronger case should you take a copyright infringement case into court/legal proceedings.


There is always the option of paying to protect your artwork. Legally the above should still be enough to protect you should you need to take a copyright infringement case into court.

However paying to copyright/patent your work gives you an extra layer of protection.

★The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) is one place you could do this:
★For the USA there's the US Copyright Office:
★In Australia there is the Australian Copyright Council:

The only problem here is that sometimes they can be costly.
BUT I believe it is possible to copyright/patent all or bulks of your work for a single price - so you won't have to be paying out everytime you create a new piece.


Such a thing as Orphan Works exist, but this shouldn't be a problem for most of us. This is an extreme circumstance where the author of the work cannot be found or contacted and the work can be adopted by someone else.

So long as you keep your contact information updated there should be nothing to worry about on this score!!


If you own your own website you can disable the right-click option so that when someone right clicks your artwork and up comes a little pop-up messege.

However there are other ways that people can take your work so it doesn't stop it compleatly but it's something.

On community sites like this though, it makes it practically impossible to disable this feature. Therefore we on CO+K and people on dA and any other group/community site cannot use this feature.


Only upload files that are low resolution. If you want to keep artwork in high resoultion do so on your computer or hard drive etc somewhere that cannot be hacked into and don't upload it publically.

By uploading low resolution pictures, art thiefs that want to sell on artwork will find it impossible. In the enlarging process your "low-resolution" version of your piece will become pixilated, therefore making it impossible for someone else to print off and sell on to someone else.



If I find any other ways in which to protect your online work, I shall add to this but good luck in keeping your online work safe.


If anyone else comes up with any other ideas or finds another tactic to protect your work online then it would be great to see here.

Friendly debates are also welcome...

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23 replies since 3rd September 2010 • Last reply 3rd September 2010

All good to know and I know how to do most of it except the prohibiting the right click method. I figured it out some years ago after much tinkering around with it, but then never used it because it was too much of a headache (at the time) so I forgot how. In any case, this is good for fending off those who steal others work.

Oh, and I have steps ready to post as a how-to on how to watermark. Hope to have that up by tomorrow or so.

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Thanks for sharing, this is all good stuff. I make my own watermarks but never add the © (year) by (your name) and All Rights Reserved. I will have to for now on.

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I know of a certain person who lurks around CO+K and crafty blogs and steels patterns that people have kindly posted for personal use and sells them as their own work on Etsy!
It really puts me off sharing some of my patterns!

I'm super interested in learning how to be able to watermark my photos and patterns but I'm hopeless at photo editing software.
Is there an easy way I could do this using Paint?

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Yeah Zina, that's what my tutorial is going to be about. Fixing to post it now and hopefully it will be published tomorrow.

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oh that will be fantastic! Thank you CreativeMind!

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Creativemind: Awesome, I look forward to seeing that, dA's watermark is all well and good, but it would be extra handy to know how to make my own and good for others that don't have dA.

Jeanette W: I know, I always watermarked but never put © (year) by (your name) and All Rights Reserved and never thought to either when I did a little bit of research into this topic. Who'd have thought it, eh?!

Zina:I'm glad Creativemind is going to share that with us because when I was writing this I tried to find out how to do it on Paint and I got a bit confused.

Hopefully Creativemind will explain it better then these computer whizzez do.

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Well, it's published!!! Take a look, there are a lot of steps but still simple and actually takes about a minute when you know what you're doing. I try to make my how-to's very informative so that there is no confusion. Hope it helps.

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This looks pretty good. I hope you don't mind if I add the URL to your tutorial onto my first post?

Just incase someone can't be bothered to/or doesn't read the origional post, here is a link/URL to Creativemind's tutorial on how to make your own watermark on paint:

Though I would suggest adding the copyright logo (C) along with your name/username and the year...

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Thanks Lolly.Bot and neh, I don't mind.

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Zina,I agree with you about people selling stuff from the site on Etsy as their own. That’s also why I don’t upload a lot of my projects and when I do I leave out the directions. But I'm thankful for the tips on how to protect my work everyone.

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Cloudgurl11986 - You're very welcome honey, I was getting very anxious about the protection of my artwork on dA, as others were. Then we had also had a lot of problems here about people stealing projects from others, especially photo's so I thought this thread to be only too appropriate. I hope it comes into good use with everyone here Happy

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It's a sad reality that some folk are so limited in there design techniques and abilities that they have to steal from people who have worked hard to develop their craft. If that is not bad enough making money out of someone elses intellectual property is a no no. I have all my poetry copyrighted. I have given permission for people to use it when they have asked. That's the point's nice to be asked particularly were there could be a financial advantage or recognition for the original creator.

@ Becky Thanks for posting this thread
@ Creative Thanks for posting the how to

I have spent many hours making patterns from stratch to share with others. I will continue to share them but may have to consider some of my more intricate ones as being a creation rather than a how to.

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Sheila: You're welcome honey. I know, it's really sad when it comes to this point. I makes me feel sad to have to post this thread on CO+K but due to the recent problems people have had with their creations and tutorials being copied it's only fair to alert people how to protect themselves.


Still... never mind, we'd get that wherever we go online... all we can do is protect ourselves as much as we can.

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@ Becky
I have seen an increase in this kind of what I can politely call 'bad behaviour' over the last 4-5 months.

My patterns are an integral part of my how to's otherwise they would all be creations. It's a difficult call because I want to share them with people who want to make them for themselves.
Maybe we could have some kind of copyright on our home page to cover the projects we post to say something like :-

I'm happy to share MY patterns with you for FREE for personal and non-commercial use. Please personal message me for permission prior to using them for any other purpose. I hope you will respect my intellectual property and the time and effort involved in making these patterns.

What do you think? It can be adjusted to fit 'designs' or 'creations'

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