My friend's fractal artwork was stolen from DeviantArt and is being sold as a photo backdrop by He needs helping with going about this issue, what type of lawyers handle this?
May 8, 2009 9:50 AM   Subscribe

My friend's fractal artwork was stolen from DeviantArt and is being sold as a photo backdrop by He needs helping with going about this issue, what type of lawyers handle this? Where should he turn to next? His piece is being sold for $150 bucks and he was never contacted nor has he drawn any type of agreement with him.
posted by cheero to Law & Government (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Intellectual Property lawyers. They deal with copyright, trademark, and trade secrets, contracts, and other intellectual property rights issues.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:04 AM on May 8, 2009

I saw this on deviantart. You know, they look very similar, but slightly different. Perhaps he could email them as a potential customer, and ask them to send a high-quality digital copy for him to review before committing to a purchase -- just to make absolutely sure, and so he can talk to the lawyer about the changes they made before selling "their" version, because it might make a difference.

I also noticed that if you right-click the images a popup displays, saying they've copyrighted their images. This would be something to mention to the lawyer, I think.
posted by Houstonian at 10:12 AM on May 8, 2009

Can you post up links to the work so we can see? Also did your friend list their work as available under creative commons? If so he may be out of luck.
posted by WickedPissah at 10:35 AM on May 8, 2009

This is the forum post talking about it (links to both pics). Looks pretty clear to me that they took the same image and fiddled with it in photoshop. As for the question at hand:

First, I am a lawyer, but not his or your lawyer. Second, as for what to do, he needs to consider what result he wants. Does he want to make a deal with them and get paid? Just get it taken down from their site? Get all the profits they've already made from sales (assuming there are any)? Each of these might mean a different plan of attack. For example, if he just wants it taken down, he could probably just file a DMCA take-down notice with the ISP. If he wants a deal, well, he won't be able to get one without contacting them and letting them know what's up. And if he wants their profits or some other type of damages, he'd need to sue.

As for type of lawyer, yes, intellectual property, or IP lawyer, is the term. My guess is that one will be relatively expensive given the amount of money likely to be at stake, but if he can get a free consultation, that wouldn't hurt.
posted by kingjoeshmoe at 10:50 AM on May 8, 2009

IANAL but I'd recommend against having any contact with the alleged infringing firm prior to contacting an attorney.

If the friend were to make a formal purchase of the art from the firm, it would really muddy the waters as to who ripped off whom.
posted by fydfyd at 10:54 AM on May 8, 2009

MetaDidn'tSeeOnPreview: first, listen to kingjoeschmoe, but still don't buy the work from the firm.
posted by fydfyd at 10:57 AM on May 8, 2009

fydfyd, what I meant was that he could pretend to be a potential customer, just to get a high-quality image. I agree, he should not actually purchase anything from them.
posted by Houstonian at 11:12 AM on May 8, 2009

Has your friend complained to DeviantArt? In my experience, they're very good at taking care of their artists. I've had artwork stolen and posted for sale elsewhere many times, and they have swiftly gotten it taken down. If that is your friend's goal. Beyond that, he'll need a lawyer, and I don't have any advice on that.
posted by katillathehun at 11:15 AM on May 8, 2009

I am not the OP's lawyer nor the OP's friend's lawyer. If the friend is eligible, he should try contacting the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:16 AM on May 8, 2009

I don't want to sound like a jerk, but fractal imagery can look astoundingly similar - it is just math.

Are you 100% sure this isn't coincidental?
posted by bensherman at 12:14 PM on May 8, 2009

Remember, you can use the wayback machine at to help track who posted the image online first.
posted by hippybear at 12:41 PM on May 8, 2009

Go look at it bensherman, it it definitely the same piece only slightly stretched and made monochrom. You can follow the detail exactly.
posted by eatdonuts at 1:38 PM on May 8, 2009

Sorry, I didn't see the links to the work.
posted by bensherman at 4:03 PM on May 8, 2009

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