Character/Art Theft in Roleplay communities

Discussion in 'The Tavern (RP Discussion)' started by Inkblooded, Nov 13, 2017 at 6:41 PM.

  1. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    In the majority of roleplaying groups advertised on FAF, especially Discord servers, there are a lot of people who steal characters/art to use as their own in RP.

    I am talking about people who's roleplay character is based off an image of anthro art they found on FA or google images.

    I know some people don't know how to draw and can't afford to commission people. And that because a lot of people do this I guess people just think it's acceptable. But it's still art theft.
    (and no saying "art isn't mine" doesn't mean it's okay for you to use it.)

    It's one thing if you type, say, "furry snow leopard" into google images and roleplay as a generic snow leopard character.(But that still doesn't make it any better)

    But I keep seeing a lot of people using very unique designs, like someone's personalized fursona. In fact someone in a server I was in was using a paid commissioned picture of someone else's fursona. In my opinion, that's worse. Because someone who might be using a generic species as a picture probably isn't copying the character 100%, the person who tries to use a unique design IS. And if it's been paid for, that's worse.
    That character is obviously very adored by it's owner, and the owner has spent money on it. You can't just use what isn't yours.

    So please, do not use others art or characters. If you really need a RP pic, learn to draw yourself or look around on the forums here, there are actually quite a few people who offer free art sometimes. And if you can't come up with an original concept of a character yourself, there are plenty of random generators (just type "fursona generator" into google) or you can possibly find someone to create one for you too.

    Using art and characters without permission is very disrespectful to artists, and it is stealing.
  2. Azrion/Zhalo

    Azrion/Zhalo The Felynes have arisen!

    Character/Art theft directly means that you're trying to pass someone's work as your own which isn't really a good thing and isn't really what's going on at all, unless you've seen people claiming it was all them then I suppose, I might've even seen it like once or twice in Discord.

    But saying that every time someone shows a pic of an existing character (be it they can't get commissions or can't draw, which is something you just don't learn like you say) is jumping to conclusions as you have to realize that it is not always done with bad intentions.

    An example would be for someone who has a character of an extremely unconventional species (this does happen) and is basically forced to use a reference of another to accurately describe what the hell they look like as using words is guaranteed to inaccurately describe them. Immediately calling them a thief would not only be heavily discouraging to that individual, but also somewhat ignorant of the person if they won't listen to their reasoning.

    Plus, if it was really theft, they'd already have got rid of the signature, changed the name and perhaps have used some negative colors for Original the Hedgehog!
  3. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    I don't think you understand.
    Sure, it's not as bad as claiming to draw something they didn't. But it's still using artwork without permission.

    And like I said, this isn't just for generic species. This happens to very unique designs, like a canine fursona but with extremely identifying markings. Something that is very obviously someone's personal character. Regardless if they mean harm or not, it's still really disrespectful to the both the owner of the character and the artist.
  4. Azrion/Zhalo

    Azrion/Zhalo The Felynes have arisen!

    Nah, I do understand the whole dilemma, don't be so hasty :cool:

    If you mean it as in someone's character has a heart shaped mark on their back and specifically goes to find a pic of another fursona with a heart on their back, then yeah it does become mildly suspicious that they both happen to have that same exact feature and I see why you'd think it is theft, but that word is harsh to just be slinging around like that even if it's extremely disrespectful or whatever.

    In the future, I suggest talking it out with them (unless it's blatantly obvious like how someone told me they have 400 characters or the aforementioned Original the Hedgehog) before labeling em as part of the Thieves Guild.

    But take my advice as you will
  5. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    I'm sorry, I don't quite understand the problem. What exactly is wrong with using existing art as a reference? I mean, you're calling it theft, and that makes it sound bad, but how is it theft? "Taking/using something that isn't yours" is too nebulous when we're talking about aesthetics and concepts rather than anything material. If nobody is falsely claiming ownership or profiting in any way from it, how is it detrimental to anyone? Do you think people who do any kind of fanart or fanfiction are stealing?
    Simo and Azrion/Zhalo like this.
  6. Astusthefox

    Astusthefox The King of Games

    I’ve had people RP or rather try to RP with people I know using my character as their reference character. Personally I was a bit offended by the action, seeing as they are using my online identity to (mostly from what i was told) furfill their fetish fantasies... I mean I don’t mind at all if someone’s like.... oh hey yeah my character looks something like this *inserts my characters picture* or they have an accessory like this *shows that object on my character* but it crosses a line when you’re actually trying to use someone else’s online identity/characters for your own RP fulfillment. If you catch what I’m trying to say
  7. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    Sorry, I'm not really catching it, no. You say it's crossing a line, but what line exactly is it crossing? I understand y'all think it "feels" wrong, but that's all I'm really catching. What is the actual reasoned explanation? Or is there any at all? Because if there isn't, it might be you that has hang-ups you need to deal with.
  8. Shomat

    Shomat Can write commissions when bothered.

    The way I see it, not as as someone that creates his own art because frankly I'm too terrible for that, but as someone that does written commissions. The line it crosses is that it is theft of intellectual property.

    Of course, that sounds bad. When you hear that term one might think of stealing logos, stealing characters from popular movies or novels, or just completely ripping them off. But it also applies to taking something, anything, created by another person that is not a tangible creation and trying to pass it off as their own creation.

    I doubt that everyone that uses art not belonging to themselves tries to pass it off as though they were the original artist. But I have known people to try and do that in RPs I've done in the past. Perhaps they wanted attention, perhaps they wanted to seem talented. Who knows. And sure, one could argue that it isn't 'hurting' the artist. But it isn't very decent of them. Just in the same respect as saying nasty things about someone behind their back doesn't 'hurt' the person they're talking about. But it is still indecent to do.

    The line they're crossing is one of respect, to take the hard work of someone else and completely disregard that for their own needs. It doesn't 'hurt'. But, it is incredibly unfair and indecent to the artist.
  9. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    Because someone made that character. Someone made that character by themself, designed it on their own, and it's personalized to them. You don't have the right to roleplay as SOMEONE ELSE'S CHARACTER because you are too lazy to come up with it yourself.

    This is very different from fanfiction and fanart. Those two things are made from franchise characters from popular media (for example Sonic the Hedgehog) NOT some random person on the internet's character. Those are two very different things.

    If you had a character you put a lot of work into, with an unmistakable design - would you be okay with me using your characters art to roleplay smut with? Or claiming as my own character? Probably not. And most people are not okay with that.
    Cloudyhue and Arthale like this.
  10. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    But how is it theft if nobody is claiming it as their own or profiting from it in any way?

    I've literally never seen anybody do that, but if that's true, then I agree that's wrong and deceptive. That doesn't seem to be the issue under discuss here, though. Inkblooded is opposed to this even when the artist or owner is given proper credit. All of us here are against people taking credit for others' work.

    How do you perceive them to be different?

    Long as you're not lying about it being your original design, why should I care? If most people have a problem with that, then those most people need to lighten up and stop being so unnecessarily defensive.
  11. Dongding

    Dongding The sheep

    I don't think there's anything heinously wrong except the association between the property owner and the borrower. Maybe the owner doesn't want the borrower to cover their fursona in poop or whatever they intend to do with it in their roleplay. They don't want other people in the community to associate the character they created to be attached to that stuff.

    Having said that, people can RP however they want. I figure RPing as someone else's character would fit that bill. It would just be more polite to tell everyone "Hey, I'm borrowing this design without permission. This doesn't reflect the views of the owner."
  12. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    I literally just told you.
    Fanfiction and fanart is fan-made content based on existing, published franchises, such as Sonic the Hedgehog or Pokemon. Games, TV shows, movies, or other media that has a large fan following, is fully published, and is typically owned by a company or a group, not a single person.

    Someone's own personal OC does not fall under the same category. They are not published media works, or an IP belonging to a company instead of a person. And while things like Sonic and Pokemon were designed for the public to enjoy, most OCs are not. OCs tend to be personal, and aren't public domain for anyone to use.

    You don't understand.
    Alright, let me try this again.

    Let's use my character (or "sona") as an example. This is a character I not only designed myself, but designed around me. It is based on myself as a person, including my real life appearance and traits.

    For someone to use images of my character as their own RP character is insulting, because this character is mine, and it was made to represent me.
    It doesn't matter if they don't claim the art is theirs or put a half-assed "Art found on google" disclaimer. The point is, it's disrespectful to artists and character creators because it's using something personal to them without permission.

    And just to clarify once more - I am not talking about a generic species here, where someone might google "wolf fursona" and use a vague and generic wolf anthro to show what their character might look like.

    (Though I still consider that art theft and do not tolerate it.)

    I am talking about people who use images of people's personalized fursonas and OCs. Something that can't be mistaken as just a generic species.
    One that I saw being used by someone recently was a canine with very specific markings and accessories - clearly personalized to the character creator.

    But it's also unacceptable because there's literally no valid reason to do it.

    If you know you want a lion fursona, and show people pictures of lion anthros to say "I want it to look something like this", that's one thing. That's not claiming a character as your own, that's showing people the kind of thing you want it to look like. That's understandable.

    But, if you take an image of someone else's character, especially if it's not generic and is very unique, and say "This is my character who I will be RPing as" that's not only disrespectful to the artist/creator, it's also incredibly lazy and there's no reason to do this other than laziness or intended theft.

    And trust me when I say I know laziness when I see it. The person I called out recently for taking someone else's fursona design for their boyfriend to use (stealing someone's OC for your friend/partner - that's even trashier) is someone I and many others know for being lazy, and doesn't seem to be able to come up with any original ideas. I have since heard other people say that literally all of his character and RP ideas are ripped off from his friends or from existing media. So in a lot of these cases, "I can't draw" or "I can't commission" isn't an excuse here.

    I understand that not everyone can draw or commission art, but that isn't an excuse when there are people out there offering art for free.

    There are also many flash dress-up type games where you can create an anthro or animal character.

    There are also a lot of text fursona generators, where it will give you a randomly generated description of an anthro character. You could use one of these and either draw it yourself or find someone else to.

    There are games and virtual worlds like IMVU or Second Life which have a lot of anthro content and furry users, a lot of people design their characters using those.

    There's a lot of ways to get your own character even if you can't draw or commission.
    Cloudyhue likes this.
  13. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    What kind of different exactly do you think that makes? Are small, even individual publishers not worthy of the same respect, consideration, and popularity? Do you think posting your art online isn't effectively the same as publishing them for others to enjoy? Do you think characters in bigger media didn't originate with a person's ideas? At what arbitrary level of popularity do we put the cut-off? Because there are plenty of artists and characters that are very popular within our community. Popular dating sims like Extracurricular Activities, for example, had their characters, stories, and concepts designed by very few, but we have tons of fan art and fan fiction of those characters.

    But what makes it insulting or disrespectful exactly? I'm trying to ask you to be specific here, to give explanatory reasoning for your position, but all I've gotten so far is doubling-down. It's like I'm asking you "Why is the sky blue?" and, instead of addressing the question of why by explaining it, you're just insisting over and over that the sky totally is definitely blue. You're right when you say that I don't understand, and that's why I'm asking you to go deeper. Because right now it just looks like you haven't thought about it very deeply at all. You're just feel weird about it for some nebulous reason and are acting and building your position around that knee-jerk reaction rather than unpacking it.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017 at 3:15 PM
  14. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    They are worthy of more respect. Which is why their original works shouldn't be treated as a public free-for-all.

    I'm not saying that fanfiction is okay because it's a popular franchise. If I published my own story or media I wouldn't want people writing R18 fanfictions of it.
    But I'm saying that it's worse to do this to someone's character than it is a Pokemon or something.

    I've told you more than once. Either you're not reading my posts fully or you don't seem to get why taking someone else's personal character to use is insulting.

    Because it's not your character to use. These characters were not to be taken and used by anyone whenever like a library book.
    My characters are not Shutterstock images, they aren't something I created for people to use as their own RP character on Discord or F-List or wherever.
    I made them for myself, for my stories and my own work.

    Let me spell it out really easily so you can grasp it.

    1. First and most importantly, using something you didn't create without permission is never okay.

    You know why copyright exists, don't you? And have you ever heard of DMCA? I seriously doubt you've been on the internet and not heard about this. And once again, no, it doesn't matter if you don't claim you made it or say "credit to the artist." It's still using without permission, which most artists do not accept.

    2. Secondly, a lot of these characters are personal to their creator.

    Like I explained in my last post, a lot of characters, especially fursonas, are created based on the artist. That's the case for my character.
    I'm not saying it's okay to use a character that isn't based on a real person, but when it is a "sona" character being used, that is even more hurtful IMO. That character represents someone and is obviously special to the creator, why would you be an asshole and use it for yourself?

    My "sona" character was based off me to the point that it also has my real life conditions and flaws. Including things that are sensitive and personal to me like my albinism. Sometimes personal characters are based from a person's real life struggles and insecurities, and if that's the case then using that character is extra wrong because the person taking it doesn't know what it's like to live with those problems.

    3. Using a character in a way the creator didn't intend is disrespectful.

    When I create a character, they have their own personality, world, and backstory that I have given them. That is very important to them, and probably more important than their appearance. So if someone were to use my character without permission, and roleplay them in a completely different way from what I intended, that would be disrespectful to me as an artist. It is insulting if you put a lot of work and dedication into a character, only for someone to use it for a degrading fetish roleplay.

    4. If you roleplay as a character that belongs to someone else, your actions might influence the way people see a character.

    Let's say I have a character. I have put a lot of work into her and I have both drawn and commissioned a lot of art of her.
    Even though I may not be a "popular" or well known artist, because of the amount of art and my own small following, she will be seen on both DA and FA.

    Still with me? Okay.

    Now let's say someone takes images of my characters and uses them for roleplaying on Discord, claiming that their roleplay character looks like mine and uses all her images. They do not use the same name as my character, but the pictures are taken directly from me.

    This roleplayer engages in fetish/NSFW roleplay across several, large Discord servers. After a while, they become somewhat known.

    Are you seeing where this is going?

    The more popular this RPer becomes, the more the image of my character becomes associated with their roleplaying. Eventually, I may end up getting comments about my character from people who have seen that fetish RPer. I may be mistaken for that RPer. I may get people asking to draw fetish art of my character.

    I may even get unwanted, NSFW and degrading fan art of my character's design because someone else was using her image for their own roleplaying.

    Don't tell me you can't see the problem here.

    5. I am repeating myself here - but once again, there's no legitimate reason to do this.

    If you use other people's characters for your roleplaying, in my opinion you fit into one of three groups.

    One, you don't know better, you haven't been taught that what you found on Google isn't free use, and/or you've seen other people do it and think it's okay.

    Two, you know you could do better, but you're too lazy to make your own character.

    Three, you're fully aware that what you're doing isn't alright but you don't care and deliberately take stuff that's not yours.

    Please, don't make me repeat myself again. If you still can't see the issue after all of this, I don't know what to tell you.
  15. Jay98

    Jay98 The violent man-eater

    My characters have been used all over the place to the point where I dare say you might have already seen them and more than anyone that includes my persona. I've even had rock bands steal my art and put it on the covers of their albums. Plenty of people have taken my persona and claimed it as their own, even giving it my name and traits. I've been in at least 20 flash games and recolored more time than i care to mention. I stopped caring a long time ago. As long as it's not misrepresentation i.e. claiming that the character is something it's not and that would be under the identity of the character not just the appearance, copyright infringement where another person may claim the character as their own or used for profit without permission or appropriate funds to the original creator, then at least legally there's no much you can do. Nobody wants to see their character get shat on, ripped to pieces, partnered with every tom, dick and harry on the planet or supporting opinions that offend you or you disagree with but I guess you gotta just go with the flow. Personally I don't like my characters being put into vore but they've been in orifices i didn't even know existed. You can't change the flow of the world.
  16. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    Have you ever tried filing a DMCA takedown? As far as I know, as long as you can prove you're the original creator, you can file one, requiring the offending content to be taken down on copyright infringement.
    I knew people who have used it for stuff like Second Life content, so I'm sure you can do it for a character.
  17. Jay98

    Jay98 The violent man-eater

    oh my there has been threats of legal action but you'll find most backpedal awfully quick.
  18. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    I don't want you to repeat yourself. I specifically asked you not to repeat yourself again and to instead actually explain, but you don't seem to be able to. It's theft because it just is. It's insulting and disrespectful because it just is. That's not really good enough for me, so if all that you can offer is more long-winded versions of the same thing, then I guess we're at an impasse.
  19. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    Okay. What aren't you getting?
    Why don't you think that taking someone else's character without permission isn't theft?

    Even if you don't think it's theft by definition if they say "art not by me," can't you at least still see that it's not okay, no matter whether it's technically theft or not?
  20. Azrion/Zhalo

    Azrion/Zhalo The Felynes have arisen!

    Playing as someone else's character is a little fishy (like how I saw someone literally playing as Angela-45) but that's usually not what happens, and like you said, it's usually done for a point of reference, especially for when your character is of an extremely unconventional species and there's no other conceivable way to express what they are.

    You literally said it yourself, but ignored it.

    And lemme just find something that'll let me dress up a Nargacuga real quick HYPERLUL
  21. Blue_Jay

    Blue_Jay Active Member

    Eh, this is kind of a grey area for me.

    I'm okay with people using materials they find online as references. If the content happens to be art, I'm fine with that as well, so long as the person doesn't try to claim it as their own art while it isn't (I typically go by the assumption that anything that anyone posts on chat is not their own work or property unless they explicitly say that it is). Most people in online DnD communities do this: They find the art that Paizo publishes or otherwise browse deviantart for portraits or art that most resemble their characters. I'd also hazard to say that most DMs can't get by without having a reliable repository of reference materials for their campaigns (landscapes, monsters, character portraits, items, movie screenshots).

    For me, it only becomes an issue if the person tries to use a person's artwork in their promotions (like in a web banner or an advertisement) and hasn't procured the owner's permission. Now that's just wrong. And in my country it is actually illegal if one uses said artwork for an otherwise legitimate business. But this sort of thing happens all the time in other countries and the perpetrators get away with it.
    Balskarr and Asylum_Rhapsody like this.
  22. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    Because "taking" in this context is very different. It's simply an obviously false equivalency.

    Nope, I disagree with that too. I think it's perfectly ok. Don't make your illogical overprotectiveness of your ideas a problem for other people. If you really feel that strongly about it, then just don't share your art. Just keep it to yourself and you'll be fine. If you have problems with sharing some of your toys, then just don't bring them to class.
    Azrion/Zhalo likes this.
  23. Inkblooded

    Inkblooded Active Member

    Don't want someone to break into your car while you're at work, take it for a reckless joyride, and later return it damaged and barely running? Then don't park your car in public! You should've left it at home! And it's not like they did anything illegal. They gave your car back, didn't they?

    Don't want someone to take your food and run off with it in a restaurant? That's what you get for eating in public!

    Don't want someone to take your luggage in an airport? You shouldn't have brought it, then, if you aren't willing to share it with the public.

    I'm honestly surprised to find that the image in your profile is actually commissioned by you. I would've thought that someone who pays for art would understand that art isn't a public library that anyone can take at any time. If you were willing to pay someone to draw for you, why do you still hold that stance? Surely you could've just found an existing character and took that, instead of spending a single penny?

    Or maybe one day you'll get your character used, and then suddenly it won't be such an okay thing to do.
    That's usually the way these things go with people like you.
  24. lyar

    lyar Its not the human race, its just the human race

    The problem is that you're talking in extremes, the world does not work well with extremes. It is a truth that you and any other person on the internet has to come to terms with the fact that if you post something on the internet you're putting it up for anyone to access. However, there is a balance to these things as an artist you shouldn't let people steal your stuff obviously but also as an artist you creating a piece to draw emotion or meaning from the viewers. And personally if someone thinks my art fits their rp or whatever else its a complement to the art as long as they do not claim it.

    I mean my profile picture isn't my art or even my character but it has a special non-monitary value to me and I think any artist should be proud if people value their art at all. Things aren't so black and white.
  25. Asylum_Rhapsody

    Asylum_Rhapsody New Member

    All of the things you mentioned are coming at somebody's expense though. Using existing art that somebody else commissioned isn't coming at anybody's expense. It's not getting damaged, or used up, or taken, or consumed, not now in the digital age where a piece of art is practically infinitely reproducible.

    Now, I'll concede that I can maybe see where you're coming from in the extremely rare potential corner case where somebody is actually very popular as an RPer and also consistently uses art of the same particular character, shifting the perceptions of that character in the relevant community. But is such a thing common enough to condemn the entire practice of using existing character art? Not even close.

    Why would being willing to pay someone to produce art change my stance? I didn't commission art to let it sit unseen and unappreciated in a computer file. Sometimes people pay for things they want to share.

    I've done that too. Why do you think the two are mutually exclusive? Why can't I both use other existing art and also commission some additional pieces? I can both support artists and also not be made of money. Why is your view of this so limited and one-dimensional? I understand you had a specific negative experience, but your extreme reaction to it unwarranted.
    Balskarr, Azrion/Zhalo and lyar like this.

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