DeivantArt Expanding System for Detecting Copied Images

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DeviantArt has announced that it is expanding its DeviantArt Protect service, making it available to all artists, not just those that use DeviantArt to share their work.

Dubbed DeviantArt Protect and Launched in July 2021, the system was originally designed to help artists detect duplicates or near-duplicates of their images on the internet. The system would scan the internet for potential infringements, inform artists of any that are detected, and allow the artist to file takedown notices of any works they felt were infringing.

However, the service became much better known after it expanded its detection capabilities to include non-fungible tokens (NFTs). This came at a time that copyright infringing NFTs were so rampant that some marketplaces decided to halt sales and the largest NFT marketplace, OpenSea, admitted that “Over 80%” of the NFTs minted for free were either fake, plagiarized or otherwise legally dubious

According to DeviantArt, they have indexed more than 355 million NFTs and have sent more than 245,000 alerts, though it is unclear how many of those alerts are over NFT cases. 

Still, the biggest limitation of DeviantArt Protect was that it was only available to DeviantArt users. With this expansion, all artists can use DeviantArt Protect, regardless of where they host their images.

Under this new plan, all users can protect up to 10 images for free with a cap of 2 GB on total file size. Those that want more can elect for a “Core Pro” plan, which costs $9.95 per month and allows the user to submit up to 1,000 images that take up less than 50 GB of storage.

It’s a tempting opportunity that may be very valuable to many artists, especially to those who want to protect a large volume of images, while spending minimal time and resources on doing so.

A Compelling Offer for Many

The announcement comes at an challenging time for the NFT marketplace and crypto more broadly. NFTs, in recent weeks, have undergone a tremendous crash, with both prices and volume of trades dropping off drastically. This is mirrored by an ongoing crash in regular crypto markets, that’s seen many of the currencies lose significant portions of their value.

However, while the NFT detection may be what generates headlines and even dominates the marketing of DeviantArt Protect, the service is actually built to detect a wide range of potential infringements.

In that regard, DeviantArt protect works very similarly to services like Pixsy and Copytrack that scour the internet looking for potentially infringing images. However, these services are heavily geared toward trying to collect licensing fees from alleged infringers, a process known as speculative invoicing, and is something that many artists are not comfortable with.

Note: Pixsy does have a takedown system, but only on its paid plans and with a limit of the notices per month.

DeviantArt Protect, at least currently, only works with takedowns and their plans provide for an unlimited number of takedowns per month. For artists wanting to protect a decent number of images and send a large volume of takedowns, this is easily one of the best approaches from both a cost and time perspective.

My Advice

If you’re an artist and already have an image protection service that you are happy with, I doubt DeviantArt Protect will offer much to pull you away. At least not yet.

However, if you’re seeking one, DeviantArt Protect is worth at least considering, especially if you are not interested in collecting licensing fees for your images and wish to focus solely on takedowns.

That said, it’s important to explore the marketplace and see which company provides the services that best fit your needs. There are many in this space and, while DeviantArt may be the biggest name in this space, it’s also relatively new and may not be the best fit.

Of course, if you’re already on DeviantArt, there is not much reason not to use it as it’s already available to you. It makes sense to start with it and then look at alternatives only if it is not meeting all your needs.

Bottom Line

Visual artists have long struggled with how to protect their works online. We’ve seen mass litigation efforts, commonly referred to as “copyright troll” operations, speculative invoicing and much more. 

The simple truth is that the ease with which images can be taken, combined with the casualness many do it, means that controlling images on the internet is an exceptional challenge. Trying to find a balance between combatting widespread infringement and avoiding disproportionately heavy-handed tactics is an ongoing struggle.

I don’t have any answers here and this is something every artist must approach on their own as they know their needs, values and desires. But I do know that having more options is, ultimately, a good thing and DeviantArt opening its doors to all creators is creating just that, more options.

It will be interesting to see what impact this has over the long term and if artists that are not currently on DeviantArt are willing to entrust the company with protecting their work.