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What do you do if someone steals your art online?

It can be quite upsetting to find out that someone has stolen your original artwork from your Instagram, Facebook or online store only to sell it elsewhere. It’s not just individuals who do this; companies sometimes do this, too.

As a creator, you should know that you do have a right to your property and that the theft that has occurred is not legal. Your intellectual property is protected, and you have a right to go after and pursue compensation from those who have used it without permission.

When you don’t take steps to protect your property, you could hurt your business

When someone takes your intellectual property, they may dilute the true value of your business and make it harder for you to earn a profit. For example, a design that you might have sold on a T-shirt for hundreds or thousands of dollars over time might earn you nothing if a more popular brand steals it and sells it with better marketing and outreach.

You can take steps to ask others to stop using your designs without permission.

Art theft is a serious problem in online communities

Art theft is a concern because smaller and lesser-known artists may have their designs stolen before they have an opportunity to grow their businesses. Even for well-known artists and professionals, finding out that another individual or company is using art without permission could mean that a significant amount of money has been lost through sales that they were not compensated for.

To help prevent these kinds of losses, you should monitor all artwork that goes out online. Using a digital watermark can help prevent people from using the original image, but that doesn’t always work. Monitoring your art allows you to send a cease-and-desist letter to anyone you find selling your work.

After this, you should consider the potential gains if you pursue a lawsuit against the other party. Not every instance of your art being stolen will always be worth a lawsuit, but in major cases where the art is particularly valuable, you deserve an opportunity to seek fair compensation for what has been stolen from you.