Sharing art on Instagram is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you get to showcase your artistic capabilities to millions of users. On the other, you expose your creations to theft. While Instagram doesn’t allow people to download images, dubious characters can easily take a screenshot, crop the image, and pass off the artwork as their own.
This shady intellectual property theft has involved all sorts of artists, including watercolor painters, crafters, and photographers. There are cases where the artwork of an unsuspecting artist has been used in merchandise, robbing them of credit and royalties.
If you’re planning to share your creative work on Instagram, here are a few reminders to protect your intellectual property.
Use Watermarks and Signatures
Watermarks and signatures are still one of your best defenses against art plagiarism. While some people might claim that these — especially watermarks — can be distracting, these can decrease the chances of stealing artwork dramatically. In fact, no cloud-based DDOS solution or security app can protect a published artwork that doesn’t have a legible watermark or signature. These marks are difficult to edit out; should the plagiarist try, there would be a conspicuous change in that area of the piece, which could turn the viewers off.
Where you put watermarks and signatures matters, too. Instead of just putting a huge watermark at the center of the picture, artfully align it with some of the lines in the design. Ideally, it should be in an area where it can be easily noticed but won’t distract the viewer from the whole picture. Moreover, it should be placed away from areas that could be easily cropped out, such as corners.
Publish Works in Progress
For an additional layer of security, limit posting finished works; post works in progress instead. Your goal, after all, is to share your artistic capabilities, and these can be gleaned even on an unfinished canvas.
By posting works in progress, you update your followers about your current projects, without giving intellectual thieves any chance of stealing the finalized artwork. It also offers prospective clients a glimpse into your creative process — something that is as rich as the art piece itself.
You can show not only what you’re working on, but also the materials you use. Arrange the paper, oil pastels, and pencils on a pretty flat lay, for instance. On top of that, works in progress are a consistent source of Instagram content.
Take Appropriate Steps When You Detect Plagiarism
When you’ve done everything you can to protect your artwork, but some people still manage to steal them, it’s time to act.
The first thing you must do is to take a screenshot of the plagiarized art, capturing the account that posted it and when it has been posted. This is your strongest proof that somebody stole your work. Then, send them a message informing them that you are the original artist and that you deserve credit for your work. If they don’t budge, report the account. Instagram has its own reporting system, where you can report your concern.
Your artwork deserves to be protected, just like any other form of intellectual property. So, the next time you publish your artwork, place your signature, and be vigilant of plagiarists.