Art Abuse in Neopia
|PET CENTRAL - We've all seen it. In the Beauty Contest, the Art Gallery, sometimes
on personal pages, it's everywhere - art abuse. The two of us in this account,
Bunnie and Liba (the sketch artist and the muse, respectively) are constantly
under stress to try to take care of all the cases of theft of our work. Many artists
will agree - it's pretty much guaranteed that if you put up a nice image, there's
someone out there in Neopia who will claim it as their own. We're writing this
article to try to bring this problem into the light so that it can be dealt with
as efficiently as possible. Here, we'll take a look at Art Abuse in general, as
well as the ways you can help and our proposed solution for the problem.
What is art abuse? It is the cloning, copying, or downright stealing of any
artist's original picture - be it simply coloring over their image on the computer
or tracing it on paper. The abuse of pictures in every form is a well-ingrained
part of Neopia, unfortunately - most especially in the Beauty Contest.
Ah, the BC… here is a place where the pilfering of art runs rampant, and where
many improvements could be made. Anymore, it's just a popularity contest...
the image is no longer the determining factor, it all depends on how often the
owner can cover the message boards with advertisements, or if their guild has
thousands of members who will vote simply because it is a member of their guild.
Another practice, vote trading, is an unfair tactic for getting your art placed
in the top three - people don't judge whether the art is high quality, they
just type the URL and vote without looking at the entry. This demeans what the
trophies for the Contest really mean; now when one sees a trophy on the pet's
page, they must question whether or not the owner is truly an admirable artist,
or simply someone with enough time to post on the chat boards all the time.
Another Beauty Contest practice that irritates many Neopians is cut-and-pasting.
This is when people take the Neopets pictures and slap an epilepsy-inducing
flashing background on it and call it "art". They almost never win (and when
they do, it's because of vote trading), but they clutter the contest with hundreds
of unattractive and unoriginal art - if you're not going to spend enough time
on something to make it good, why enter it in the contest? Some would argue
that this is biased against the people who are not blessed with artistic talent…
but if they lack artistic flair, then why not try to win trophies for something
that they have aptitude for?
Now, we don't mind when people look at drawings to develop their own style,
or to get an idea of how to draw a certain part of a critter; that's how you
learn. However, if it is noticeable enough to the people viewing it that it
was based on someone else's work, then you need to make some modifications to
your drawing to make it more your own. Though most of the time, these artistic
pickpockets don't bother to even try to draw their own, they just find the work
of another person's and take it.
We're not going to name names, but we have, on several occasions, had to deal
with people who have no scruples about taking other people's work. The most
common case is when people simply take our images and put them on their pet's
pages or in the Beauty Contest. We've had people lift the content of our petpages
(sometimes without even changing the names in the text), and also had people
steal the *very* distinct markings that our pets have. Why do they do this?
It's a mystery that's stumped the both of us since we started playing. Even
more puzzling are some of the reactions we get when we confront art thieves.
When we discover an art thief, we've made it policy to first give them a warning
over Neomail to please take it off the site, since it is ours. We let them know
that if they simply remove the graphic, then the case is closed, and we'll not
bother them again. However, we have never once gotten a reply that is a simply
apology or admittance that they were in the wrong. Instead, we most often receive
the excuse that an anonymous "friend" gave it to them, or that they didn't know
it was ours… despite the fact that we put our name on every one of our images.
Only once have we received a message that really knocked us back on our heels
- one thief actually told us that she'd stolen our art, and that there was nothing
we could do about it. She maintained that our ideas weren't original, and that
she could take any ideas of ours as she pleased and we couldn't stop her. It
was this blatant lack of respect for our artwork that inspired us to write this
article. We want to make a difference, to let it be known what occurs in Neopia,
and hopefully put it to a stop.
One thing that would most assuredly cut down on the stealing and abuse of art
is for the penalty to be made more severe. At the moment, a thief may have their
pages wiped, may be disqualified from the contest, but almost never have any
permanent punishments or repercussions. If the stealing of art were to become
a freezable offence, then it would dramatically decrease the number of people
who do it with abandon. There is rarely a tangible punishment for stealing art,
so oftentimes the same people do it again and again. This decision is in the
hands of the Neopets Staff, but I'm sure many artists out there would agree
that this problem has gotten out of control. We ourselves cannot hunt down every
person who lifts our images, but if the Staff were to buckle down on the problem,
incidents would decrease.
Many people aren't sure how to react when their art is stolen, so here we'll
explain the most effective way to go about things. First, always be polite and
concise - never be rude or insulting, as reacting in an aggressive manner can
get you frozen. Send the thief a warning, letting them know that you've seen
that they took your image, and request that they take it down within twenty-four
hours. If they ignore your message or send a reply back denying that the art
is stolen, don't reply again and get into an argument. Instead, go straight
to your e-mail and report the thief to firstname.lastname@example.org. Give the username
of the offender, the URL of the page containing the stolen material, and make
your explanation of the problem clear. The Staff may take a few days to respond,
but keep in mind that they're busy people. This will effectively solve your
problem, as they has never let us down before.
Yes, it is indeed easier to steal someone's artwork than to spend hours developing,
drawing, and coloring one's own. But is it really worth it? People must think
about the consequences of their actions. Even if a thief isn't frozen, their
use of the picture can increase the owner's bandwidth, causing them to have
to pay more real money, not Neopoints, to their domain host. Also, no matter
how wonderful one's page might look with stolen images, it is deeply more satisfying
to know that one has created the beauty themselves, rather than snatching it
away from someone else.
Thanks for listening to the ravings of a pair of frustrated artists. We can
all do our part to help stop this abuse of artwork by reporting to the Staff
whenever you see an image that you are sure is stolen. Remember to respect the
originality of others, and that it always means more to you when you've completed
something yourself. Remember: only YOU can prevent Art Abuse! *waves picket