How is it not normal? People who can’t draw like to have a way of signifying their characters. ‘Dale Williams’ was claiming the work of others as his own, and trying to get work/money from it. The average internet fan has absolutely no reason to even try that-- and in fact many times I’ve discovered great artists by seeing someone’s avatar that I liked, and asking them where they got it. (that’s how I discovered Linda Bergkvist a couple years ago, I wouldn’t even know she existed till she turned up on CGtalk if it wasn’t for that, though she does object to having her work shown in RPs and I’ve informed people of this and gotten a few such images taken down) Often on their websites it will be noted, and even if it isn’t they’ll explain when asked, unless they just plain don’t know. There are also people within the RP communities who try to keep track of whether an artist wants their stuff used in that format, and in some places there’s pretty heavy pressure for people to make sure and put credits on all the images they use. Hopefully this will grow.
People put up posters and wallpapers, print out images to put in notebooks and things of that kind, and show their friends-- this is similar. Most of the time it’s limited to teenagers, too, so I guess really the people to blame would be parents for not raising their children to respect copyright.
In fact the only real objection I have to it isn’t based on financial copyright issues at all, but the sheer fact that I don’t want people sticking the face of a character on a character that’s nothing like them and does stupid things. Not because they’re going to convince anyone the character is theirs or get any money… but just cause it BUGS me, the same way the new Catwoman movie pisses me off-- it breaks the laws of simple decency and TASTE. :argh: