The DeviantArt Timeline entries from the past few months have discussed how we’re focusing on user experience for DeviantArt and ways to make the site more intuitive. In this journal, we'd like to kick off a discussion on another big design-related milestone: to improve the profile experience on the site, mobile web, and mobile apps.
A lot has changed since the last time profiles were redesigned, and we have a number of interesting design challenges and objectives this time around.
At the forefront of our minds is the presentation on mobile Web, alignment with our mobile app, and a new layer of customization so deviants can make the experience feel more distinctive to their own personality and art. The recurring topic that's surfaced during the process is the need for simplicity.
This journal includes concept designs that represent avenues we're exploring. These are works-in-progress and not final.
A collection of unique and interesting styles of profile pages that exist today.
We have a significant amount of mobile traffic coming to our site every day from various smart-devices. We also have our own mobile app that's seeing a ton of growth. With the momentum towards mobile continuing on the rise, our goal is to ensure your profile will render perfectly at different sizes, establish optimized page performance, and most importantly, keep your deviations looking beautiful.
Your profile is viewed across a variety of screen sizes. A smaller or larger screen will have an impact on how your content is presented.
The transition of a busy desktop page to mobile web will change the order of how the content is presented and how quickly it loads. Many people choose a simpler layout with less content so it works effectively across all screen sizes.
So what would an artist from the world’s largest art community do with a personal image on their profile? Is this the moment your personal brand has been waiting for?
There’s a lot happening on our current profile pages: widgets, galleries, and comments. We want to start the profile redesign with a couple of new enhancements that allow you to personalize your page even more.
Below are examples of how we’re integrating a customizable art canvas that you can add with one of your latest deviations, or create a new piece of art that can be easily added.
Focus on the canvas art area only - you can see how the canvas art image has scaled down to work on a mobile screen.
This is the same profile screen but at a desktop+ scale. We believe scaling up from a normal desktop size is also something we need to consider. At its largest size (big monitors) we increase the size and lock the placement of the art canvas on the left, and the content to the right scrolls. The art canvas can be filled with your latest deviations or something unique that you create specifically for this.
Some of the examples above presented the profile without a global header bar. The below animation speaks to how we’re thinking of handling it. The result is that your cover art image aligns to the top of the page, and your own personal brand is the dominant art that fans will first see.
We’re also exploring the idea of allowing people even further personalization options with the ability to select from one of three color options (black, grey and white) for the background color of the page. This feature combined with the canvas art image should allow you to make the page feel unique and distinctive.
You’ve seen a couple of different approaches to the navigation design in profile. This is an important topic when considering mobile web, because it not only needs to be intuitive, but also needs to work across different screen sizes.
The goal of this exploration is to simplify the navigation and develop new ideas for deviants to get support from fans.
Galleries Your deviation submissions grouped by gallery name
Favourities All of your favs grouped by collection name.
Work in Progress A place to post your daily sketches (versus finished deviations) with an improved 2-click submit.
Journals Your journal posts.
Polls Your polls.
Status Your status.
Support Highlighting your deviations and activity that need support from the community.
Prints The deviations you have for sale as a print.
Commissions When you create a commission (via widget) for your fans to buy.
Donate Points, Give Premium Membership Other ways the community can support you.
The most important section in a deviants profile is the gallery, and we’ve been looking at ways to improve the experience.
Below is a new style of navigation, the new thumbnail grid that we presented recently, and a different way to navigate to a specific gallery. We’re also looking at ways to include a featured deviation (the large deviation) at the top of the page.
An idea we’ve been working through is to find a way to keep users in your gallery and navigating through deviations. Presented here is an overlay that’s launched when a user clicks on a thumbnail. You can still click through to a deviation page from here.
We are committed to providing a completely open conversation on this topic. With your active and constructive participation we can become a leading voice on how we adapt to the challenges of being artists on the Web.
This Journal frames the continuing conversation and concern about art theft in general on the Internet and on DeviantArt. Each section links to a more specific and expanded treatment of the topic with additional links to useful materials and readings. Your comments to this Journal will be reviewed by experts and comment threads of general interest will be linked into the expanded topic sections.
Something to keep in mind at the outset: we are all guided by a code of decency, honesty and the expression of mutual respect. So, try to be tolerant and understanding even when reviewing these materials. Ethical behavior is a reward and a duty larger than laws and rules. Sometimes people interpret right and wrong differently even when both people have the exact same good and ethical intentions. Keep in mind that everything anyone does will be right if it’s also decent and honest even if some rule of law or contract was technically broken.
Sometimes the term “theft” is accurate and it always attracts attention.
The word “theft” can be used casually, sometimes to describe copying any part of an artwork. The term “theft” also defines actual criminal conduct and is associated to a harsh moral judgment that may go too far.
Stealing an object is theft. Using artwork without permission isn’t technically a “theft.” It might be copyright infringement or violate a contract.
Stealing an object is theft. Using artwork without permission is frequently called “theft” or “stealing.” But it might, instead, be copyright infringement or the violation of a contract that just feels like a theft.
Everything comes from somewhere. To some degree all people copy what other people do starting with talking, walking and eating. And, the same is true in writing, art and music. There is a limit to the originality of any artwork in any medium.
Basic standards of decent, respectful and honest behavior — and the law — will prevent copying when it will harm another person economically.
Copying can be permitted because it’s an accepted practice or sometimes because the laws directly permit it. As an example, there is a rich history of using tracing for learning and some artists want their work to be copied.
Protection from copying is also time-based. Copying very old things is a way to preserve them and keep them relevant in the culture.
Entire fields of recognized fine art such as collage and “appropriation art” (like Andy Warhol) depend on copying and the law is favoring this development.
Copyright gives the author the exclusive right to copy, distribute, alter or base other works on his or her original work. These rights are very broad.
Those who violate the rights are called “infringers” and can be made to pay money damages or can be made to stop their behavior.
Copyright laws also create a balance between the needs of artists to protect their work and the needs of the culture to express itself by protecting people who want to use copyrighted works for specific reasons such as criticism, comment, political speech and sometimes it protects the actual use of artwork in another artwork.
Copyright only protects the way an idea is expressed. It does not protect the idea. Anyone can use an idea, even if it’s original. Patent law or trade secret law could protect an idea, but these laws have strict requirements. They mostly apply to making useful things, and almost all artworks don’t qualify.
Every country has similar copyright laws but with many technical variations and differences. It can get complicated.
On or off DeviantArt, the word “stock” means the artist or company intends other people to use a photograph or another form of artwork — and it always means that there are conditions to using it.
The conditions for stock use could be very open, such as “use it anyway you want, at anytime, for anything” or they could be very restricted specifying size, uses, changes, payment, credit or all of these.
Every time someone gives you permission to use a work it’s a contract and you need to be as clear as possible about how far that permission goes.
If you use stock and violate a condition, then you are breaking a contract and maybe also engaging in copyright infringement.
Fan art usually takes characters, situations and sometimes directly copies artwork from all kinds of media including films, television, comics, books, or games. Typically, the original version is protected by copyright laws.
Most major media companies that control the properties most fan art celebrate are OK with fan art made not for profit. But, the companies will rarely admit this because it would compromise their need to protect the properties when they have to. This “fan art understanding” is entirely within the control of the owner of the property and they can withdraw it when they like.
When fan art is sold in multiple copies it tends to become a problem for these companies, which is a problem for artists as well. It can be a violation of both copyright law and trademark law.
Fan artists recognize that there are also ethical issues in reproducing and selling fan art. It is considered different than selling an original drawing or painting that is fan based.
It is a good practice to label fan art if there is any risk that someone would confuse it as official, licensed art. It is never OK to label fan art as coming from the original owner or creator.
The right of “integrity” protects against harmful damage to artworks and permits the artist to step in to protect his or her art even after a work has been sold or licensed.
The right of “attribution” defends artists against people taking false credit for the artist’s work and against people who claim something was made by a particular artist when it wasn’t.
Not every country has these laws or they have very weak ones. The U.S. has very weak protections but they do apply to artworks published in limited editions of 200 copies or less. France and Germany have the strongest protections.
There should be an obvious ethical obligation not to claim false credit and not to damage another person’s artwork.
Putting your own work on the Internet is not giving it away. A blog or a website is a display or a distribution of your work. But, it isn’t a statement that other people can use the work or copy it.
A website or blog’s terms and conditions are a contract that defines what the site and what people who visit the site can do with your work — read it and decide.
Automatic copyright protection is available to all new works of art and in most countries you do not have to place a copyright notice on the artwork.
Placing lower resolution files for display on the Internet is an excellent technique to prevent many commercial uses of artwork.
Sites like DeviantArt offer watermark options on submission.
Post with a clear notice saying what people can or cannot do with your work to remind your viewers that they have only limited rights.
Misunderstandings about using artworks and taking credit for things that may go too far are very common. Use the messaging system or comments to give people the chance to do the right thing after they find out what the right thing should be.
If messaging and conversation doesn’t work, consider using a website reporting function, contacting the administrators, filing a formal copyright takedown request or contacting a lawyer for assistance.
“Art Theft” and “Plagiarism” are now common ways to say that someone has copied something from your creative work. Many on DeviantArt consider any taking from an artwork to be “art theft” whether or not as a technical, legal matter the theft fits into another category of behavior as well such as copyright infringement. Whatever term is used, it certainly feels like stealing.
“Art Theft” as a crime involves physically taking, stealing, a physical artwork, which could be a canvas or a sculpture or even a hard drive full of digital files. “Theft” describes a criminal act that can result in imprisonment. Technically, it does not involve copying creative expression. When someone copies your art it can feel like a crime. It’s certainly wrong morally and it might be copyright infringement. But accusing someone of a “theft” is a serious accusation that may be too extreme.
“Plagiarism” involves using someone else’s material, usually something written, without credit or citation. It is not a legal term. Plagiarism can occur in fan fiction, poetry, speeches, academic papers and news articles. It is usually used to describe a form of dishonesty but it doesn’t describe something that is necessarily unlawful.
Under the law, taking or using someone else’s creative expression is typically “Copyright Infringement,” which is, truthfully, a lot more complicated than just saying something was “stolen.” Copyright infringement is unlawful but not criminal, unless done on a huge commercial scale (like selling or providing copies to a very large group of people).
There are plenty of things that artists do with work from other artists that are just plain wrong no matter what you call them and whether or not the law thinks they are wrong. At the same time, there are plenty of ways that artists express themselves using what has been made before which aren’t at all wrong.
Take the Eiffel Tower. Under French law it is a protected work of architecture and as such the agency that manages the Tower can stop you from making a “copy.” But if you walk the left bank open air galleries in Paris there would be hundreds of drawings and paintings of it. Those artists are just painting what they see. They certainly don’t think it is an “art theft.” In many of those drawings, the Eiffel Tower will probably look like a copy of another drawing or a tracing of a photograph but the artists would not object to those similarities because there are only so many ways to make a good drawing of the structure.
French law also protects the public light show splashed on the Eiffel Tower at night. Selling a photograph of the Eiffel Tower taken at night with some of those lights shining on it is considered copyright infringement. Almost nobody would believe this and only a copyright nerd would agree with it.
The Eiffel Tower is also a trademark. You can’t make little souvenir versions, or put the image on a cereal box, or film it commercially without paying a fee.
Posting a scan or photo of an 18th century painting on DeviantArt and putting your own name under it as the artist is wrong. But there is no law that says it’s illegal to do that in most countries. Taking an old photograph made in 1890 and colorizing it could be a copyright infringement but almost no one on DeviantArt would think it was wrong.
Of course, there are absolutely clear situations of “Art Theft” and of “Plagiarism.” But language stops working when you don’t know what it means. And we need to keep in mind that “Art Theft” and “Plagiarism” carry strong social stigmas and when used inaccurately can be very hurtful to others.
“Art Theft” is not an abstract or a concrete "wrong" standing on its own. It’s not like walking down the street and watching an assault and having a responsibility to report it. Art Theft depends on the perception and the intention of the person who made the work that is being appropriated, particularly in the modern era of digital distribution. Maybe the intention of placing the work onto a website meant, for the artist, that others could build on it. Certainly images placed in Instagram and videos on YouTube have as their purpose “going viral” meaning that lots of users re-post and re-purpose the content — to the delight of the originator.
It is complicated.
St. Patrick’s Day. Boston. 1990. It’s the middle of the night. The security guard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston’s art museum) receives a distress signal. Two police officers tell the security guard there is a disturbance outside and are let inside. Only, the two police officers are not police; they’ve come to rob the museum. The burglars end up stealing 13 paintings. Some paintings they take off the wall. Some paintings they cut out of the frame with a knife. In total, the thieves steal approximately $500 million worth of art, including works by Rembrant, Degas and Manet.
St. Petersburg, Russia. 1976. Future Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is writing a paper to graduate law school. Fast forward to 2005. Two American researches get their hands on Putin’s paper. They find Putin’s paper copied a textbook written by two professors from The University of Pittsburgh. Putin did not put the lifted material in quotes, nor did he provide a citation or footnote. Ted Kennedy, a former distinguished U.S. Senator and the brother of president John F. Kennedy, was also found to have plagiarized while at Harvard.
Dennis Morris is a British rock photographer, famous for shooting the Sex Pistols and Bob Marley. Russell Young was a British-American rock photographer, famous for shooting Bjork and George Michael. Young found one of Morris’ photos of the Sex Pistols online and made a red-tinted version. He used the same photo, created a repeating image with it, threw graffiti on top of that and then added new visual elements. Young did not know Morris took the photo; it had no copyright notice or attribution. Since Young used Morris’ photo without permission, Young was found responsible for engaging in copyright infringement.
“Eagle Standing on a Pine Tree” perhaps a 1946 ink painting by a great 20th century artist, sold at auction in China for $65.4 million but it hasn’t been picked up by the new owner and lies in a warehouse while a debate rages over whether it is a fake — a forgery or a counterfeit. It is criminally fraudulent behavior to make a forgery or a counterfeit because the work is being represented as authentic when it is not. But as a contrast, many top art collectors hire artists to make perfect “forgeries” so the original can be protected from thieves in vaults while their guests look at the perfectly fake copy hanging in the collector’s home. Because the collector knows it’s a fake, it wasn’t a crime to make it. Some artist make a good living openly creating new paintings in the exact same style and of the exact same subjects as a grand master whose works are no longer protected by copyright; and as long as they don’t try to sell them as “originals” its perfectly legal. And many museum directors have admitted that their galleries may be displaying forgeries and fakes passed off as real over many years, sometimes over centuries.
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