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Texture theft
8 August 2008


I regularly receive emails from people telling me that they have seen my images used online in a questionable way and asking me if I know about it. This is especially true of my textures. I used to have the same problem with my regular images until I decided to only show them in relatively small size with a clear website logo. This helped enormously, as smaller images with clear logo are practically of no use to most of those who want to steal it in order to profit from it.

But textures are more problematic because I can't make them smaller than they already are (too much detail would be lost), and the current size is perfect for 3D engines and 3D rendering tools. All one has to do is erase the logo (done easily) and they are ready to be used. And making a larger logo or watermark takes away too much of the viewing experience in my opinion.

This year I received especially many emails from people who have seen my textures being used in indie games and virtual online 3D worlds like Second Life. Some of those who used my textures say that they bought them online. In other words they are being illegally sold.

The main problem is that I don't have the time to deal with such matters. From experience I know that chasing the scammers is too frustrating and time consuming to be worth it. Typically my emails are simply ignored when I try to contact the sinner, and contacting their service providers is of limited help if any at all.

I have considered several image theft solutions but none of them eliminates the problem. There is always an easy way around it, although more work is involved. In my next post I will write how to minimize digital artwork theft online and examine the current methods that can be used to protect it. Then I will describe how easy it is to bypass them all. Ultimately the more difficult or time consuming the act of stealing becomes the fewer people will have the skills and resources to do it. (More on that in my next post.)

For now I thank all who emailed me and showed their concern. Perhaps the best solution to illegal use of copyrighted material is by making people more aware of the implications. In the end ignoring copyrights hurts everybody - the creators and consumers. It's like getting something valuable without paying for it. If enough consumers do it, the creators won't create any longer because they won't be able to make a living selling their creations. It's really this simple.

If you care and want the creative forces to stay alive and well, show your support. Next time you see somebodies work stolen, point it out to those who did it (or use it) and the community around them. Controversial news spread fast. Each exposed perpetrator will quickly loose peoples trust and respect. Nobody wants to be known for using stolen content, so exposure will be a good lesson for those who do. Eventually, the more people become aware of theft exposures, the fewer will steal content - out of fear for getting exposed.

Finally, just to clarify, nobody is allowed to use my textures in any way. My Sci-fi, Fantasy, Surreal, Space and Abstract images can be used in virtual worlds (for display purposes only, like in a gallery) and on websites as long as the art.eonworks.com logo is clearly visible and the image not altered in any way. The website must also link back to my site.

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