On my Tumblr feed today, there was a discussion about thief of artwork due to Hot Topic. They often take designs that people have drawn and put them on shirts, but never pay the artist for this. Most artist don't even know that has happened until the are notified by someone else. Most artist who are outraged have a hard time getting these shirts down. While some people wonder why DeviantArt can let this happened, now we know why. It is sadly the site itself that is actively doing this.
Under the Submission Policy, a completely different document to their Terms of Service, they left in a particularly nasty clause that allows them to sell, modify, and even use your art to advertise themselves, without any coo-operation from its user base. By putting your content on this site, you can no longer distribute what you create via-third party as well, but I've heard very little of this clause in particular coming to pass.
The Tumblr User NaughtyJester extracted the primary section and decoded it for those who are not savy is contractual lingo and styling. I'll place it here for you to view in full. For the full post on my Tumblr, click here.
3. License To Use Artist Materials. As and when Artist Materials are uploaded to the DeviantArt Site(s), Artist grants to DeviantArt a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to do the following things during the Term:
a) to prepare and encode Artist Materials or any part of them for digital or analog transmission, manipulation and exhibition in any format and by any means now known or not yet known or invented; (DA can post them on their website and edit them in any way they see fit)
b) to display, copy, reproduce, exhibit, publicly perform, broadcast, rebroadcast, transmit, retransmit, distribute through any electronic means (including analog and digital) or other means, and electronically or otherwise publish any or all of the Artist Materials, including any part of them, and to include them in compilations for publication, by any and all means and media now known or not yet known or invented ; (They can publish your art in any media, use it to showcase their website or even promote certain groups without your knowledge. For all you know, your art could be promoting the KKK.)
c) to modify, adapt, change or otherwise alter the Artist Materials (e.g., change the size) and use the Artist Materials as described in Section 3(b); and
d) the right to sublicense to any other person or company any of the licensed rights in the Artist Materials, or any part of them, subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement. (They can edit, change, or otherwise modify your artwork in any way they want, as well as sublicensing it to third parties, such as Hot Topic.)
e) Artist acknowledges that Artist will not have any right, title, or interest in any other materials with which Artist Materials may be combined or into which all or any portion of Artist Materials may be incorporated. (By posting on FA, you forfeit your right to dispute any third party profits or copyright infringements upon your art.)
f) During the Term, DeviantArt’s licenses under this Agreement include the right to use any part of the Artist Materials in the promotion, advertising or marketing of the DeviantART Sites. (DeviantArt can use your art to advertise anything they want.)
g) As used in this Agreement, the term “Artist Materials” means any content uploaded to the DeviantArt Site(s) which may include without limitation Artist’s name(s) (including professional names), trademarks, trade names, likenesses, photographs, biographical materials, audio-visual materials, artwork, liner notes, and other graphical, textual, video, film or audio materials and any and all “skins,” computer-generated images or other artwork or images that Artist submits to DeviantArt in any medium or format whatsoever. (ANYTHING you submit to DeviantArt belongs to DeviantArt now. Including your drawings, your photos, videos, your stock materials, your music/audio, your written stories, and your artist name.)
I spread this news as a warning, because we each have a right to own own work and to share if. If Deviant Art refuses this, then this is very bad indeed. I'm posting this to my friend and to the artist I admire, because I do not want them being taken advantage of. If you can, pass this news around as fast as you can and even offer alternative site for people so the can post their artwork elsewhere.
I will also be looking for a new site to go to. While I do not upload often, I'd still like to support the people whose art I enjoy while knowing anything we make is safe.
Another Tumblr user, by the name of ZIVAZIVC has posted a counter argument to this claim - that the terms highlighted in the Submission Policy, are there to give DeviantArt the legal right to host work in the first place in the first place. Basically, things like your art being on the front page, presented in articles, or used in contest are protected under these clauses of the agreement.
In the end, I'm not entirely sure what the clear picture is due to this statement. Are these terms of condition fair or unfair? Can they be explored or willed be upheld for the sake of their userbase? I couldn't tell you at this point, but I can say that under the FAQ section on DeviantArt that this issue is addressed there. It comes down to what you think is safe in the legal structure of DeviantArt. If you don't feel safe, then leave. If you rather not and feel fine, then I don't see a clear reason as to why not.
I'm glad that there was attention brought to this issue, even if it's a non-issue. It brings up the point of reading terms an conditions before entering a site, especially one like DeviantArt. With the many claims that other sites who try to take advantage of some of their users and their pictures, such as Facebook, it's important to take care of these things.