Website stealing my personal work for their own use without permission


So I happened to do an image search of one of my works the other day and came across the following links:

From what I can see a Chinese educational site has stolen my work to happily use on their site. They also kindly wiped out my signature.

To be honest this kind of thing is to be expected when you make something publicly available but at the same time it is highly annoying to see someone else profiting off of your own sweat and tears. Be it a labour of love or not… It’s quite sad really because obviously it feels great to show off our works with each other and it sucks at the thought that it would be better either to not show at all or worse still, slap a huge watermark over the thing.

Is there perhaps anyone Chinese speaking on here that may be willing to help me get in touch with these people so I could kindly ask them to remove my work or am I just wasting my time even trying?



Its an ad for an intro course in Maya:

The Chinese don’t have a very good concept of Intellectual Property rights.

When I was patenting a video processing algorithm I developed, I was interested in getting a Chinese patent for it. Then somebody in the know told me “Don’t bother applying for a Chinese patent. If someone in China wants to use your video processing technique, no patent in the world will stop them from doing so.”

IP enforcement just doesn’t work over there.


You’d be 100% wasting your time. They’re using your image because they don’t care whose it is, if you contacted them, at best you would give them a laugh about that silly westerner who told them to stop using an image.

Skip it, ignore it, forget it, their use won’t have any impact on your life and you shouldn’t let it bother you.


Actually I kind of disagree with most of the comments here. China does have a problem with IP but usually if you call a company out on a violation they will try to fix the problem. Mind up. calling a company and finding the right person to actually take responsibility of something like this is often less than easy.

I just tried to send the school in question an email telling them it’s your image, they need to remove it, and it’s unethical for a school to use other peoples work without asking first or providing not atribution. Unfortunately I send the email in English, although I did provide them with Chinese contact details. Sorry, I can’t write Chinese and can only speak conversationally. Also I’m not 100% sure it was the write place to send the email too … but, well, I gave it 5 minutes for you :slight_smile:

I have no idea if this would work but, if you can find someone to write Chinese for you, then contacting the school and telling them to remove this would, eventually, yield results. Often it’s not easy, bureaucracy being what it is here, but if you persist they’ll get rid of it.


Guys thanks very much for the replies.

@imashination & skeebertus - You are right and I do agree that it is most probably a complete waste of time but at the same time it’s wrong. I don’t believe all of China act this way though so it is always worth a try. Also, I mean they haven’t stolen my breakthrough algorithms to the next gen of AI so I am also not particularly fussed, if anything, there is an element of flattery here, but still I would like them to know it’s not the right way of going about things and that I would prefer they had asked. That’s all…

@axiomatic - wow, thank you! I really didn’t expect anyone to go ‘that’ far and you didn’t need to, where did you find the email address? I couldn’t even find that because most of the text wouldn’t translate into english as it is all embedded in jpgs.


Actually upon further inspection they have scoured CgSociety and other sites to grab images from…

I will try to let them know too but if you any of you know any of these guys personally it might be worth letting them know as well? If everyone writes to them there may be a chance they take it more seriously.

Iron Man Dead Force Armor - by Tolga Darende (tolcha)
Concept RacingCar - by Lars Mårtensson (grid)
Frankenstein - by Anto-Tony Juricic (Anto-Toni)
Spider Robot - by Adrien Lambert (Adri1)

To name few


“Your work”!? You either copied someone else’s or the IP doesn’t belong to you anyway even if you did work on the Tron:Legacy film.


The major corporations have recognized this fact for years. Now the largest law firms in the US and in the UK have been opening law offices in China just so they can start regulating IP and all of the issues. Unfortunately, for the small pocket individual, you probably don’t have access to that power. I see Chinese attorneys on LinkedIn all the time located in the UK, US and in China. You could always reach out to them to ask questions. You never know what could happen.


Thanks Jon, great suggestion too and will take a look into it as well.


Being clued up on copyright-law won’t be a bad thing. I struggle to comprehend how you could have started such a discussion about work you have no rights to whatsoever with no sense of irony.
There was a time when every single image posted on CG talk had “Copyright” written at the bottom of it. This was ridiculous as virtually none of the images contained intellectual-property pertaining to the artist themselves. It doesn’t matter for how long you have slaved modelling a car or bike, if you didn’t design that car or bike, you have no rights to the image whatsoever. Your portfolio shows that you are capable CG artist (if you did model the cars), but there is nothing stopping anyone from copying every single image in your portfolio*. Until you create your own concept-art/IP, you can’t whinge about copyright when you’ve merely copied someone else’s intellectual property.

*Whilst using the actual images themselves might be copyright-infringement, though you’d have less of a claim than the owners of the subject-matter they depict, you don’t really have a case and it would be quite easy to CGI the whole thing but make minor alterations to the backgrounds such as using a different woodland/sky.


Never once have I claimed content IP infringement or have I considered the subject matter as ‘my own design’. It’s even categorised as fan art. I am a big fan of both films and chose that subject matter to push my own boundaries using a design that intrinsically has it’s own exceptional design aesthetic. There is no escaping that either as it is such an incredibly popular and well known design… so you say I talk with no sense of irony? please…

You said it best ‘’*Whilst using the actual images themselves might be copyright-infringement’’. Enough said and I am glad you mentioned it because guess what… that’s why I created the post :rolleyes: I am quite convinced there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of people on CGsociety who would feel the same. Original content or not, they have still worked damn hard at the images they created.

Please spare me your drivel if you ‘‘struggle to comprehend that’’.



Your post is kind of insensitive to people that have suffered genuine copyright theft. The initial thought on clicking your post was “Oh no!” but at the end of reading your post I was like, “Why on earth are you complaining about that!?”

You’ve made it about YOU with the word “My” when you could have just listed the websites as using peoples’ work without their permission.

If you think they are making a profit from “Your” work, water-mark the images in future and quit bitching and offer tutorials! :stuck_out_tongue: Could you have created the tutorials in Chinese anyway? They are being dishonest in their abilities, but they aren’t selling “Your” work directly. What about the people that are signing up for the course based on lies!?

I think most CGI-artists have technically committed copyright-theft to achieve finished CGI stuff. All the images that you find on the internet to be used as textures or maps for materials etc. It will probably transpire that you have done just that if you work commercially.


A few things here:

  1. The reason I emailed them and told them the use of the image was unethical (which I believe it is) is because they didn’t contact the original creator and ask permission which, to my mind, is a vital step of this process. Essentially they made no effort to trace the copyright at best. At worst they just took it without giving a shit and that’s Not Cool.

  2. It’s likely that the institution itself doesn’t know how their design company making the webpage has been leaching images from elsewhere without permission. This is common in China and as a practice it should be stopped. It’s not good for the industry here. I know, I deal with it from concept artists relatively often. In effect I think the institutional program itself is probably unaware of the misleading nature of this advertising and wouldn’t approve of it if they knew otherwise.

  3. The way the image was used on the webpage was misleading. The other copyright images have attribution, or point to “make games” for example next to an image of the Witcher. But this image is listed next to a box that basically says “Even if you start with no experience, you’ll be able to make feature film quality art by the end of this course!” - The image feels as if it’s an example of student art (and there is student art below, I’d be interested to know how much is from here actually).

  4. Bringing textures and maps into this is irrelevant and I believe you know this. Copyright laws crucially allow for transformation. I can take a famous copyright image, two-tone it to black and white, and use that as a bokeh filter for an entirely different image, and that is likely entirely within the law even if you could prove I’d used your image and also prove that it was visible within the new artwork. This is because you’d quite easily argue the original work was transformed by adding new expression/meaning, and value was added by creating new aesthetics. However, if I was to take a boken filter designed for that purpose and use it without attribution then this would be an illegal use because that was the design of the original element. I was not using it in a transformative way. You’ve just said all of us violate copyright laws and that’s a flagrant lie.

  5. Fan Art is often allowed by IP owners because it spreads and adds value to the IP. When such art is used commercially though it instead detracts from the value of the IP (directly, in the form of lack of royalties) and thus the commercial use of Fan Art is an issue that can impact us all. This is part of th impact of the use on the market that forms the basis for copyright claims. (Fan Art is also allowed because it’s usually transformative and, frankly, copyright cases are notoriously fickle so it’s not really worth making a case against people, especially when those people probably support your product through purchases).

Finally, someone sees a piece of work they spent hours making being used by some people to sell their course which teaches people to make stuff. It’s not remotely unreasonable to assume that they feel upset by this. I think your original comment was pretty dismissive and harsh. You could have talked it through better. There’s truth in some of your claims but, as I demonstrate above, that doesn’t mean we should throw the baby out with the bathwater here. It’s still an unethical use of other peoples images.



Not quite…

Taking someones original image and ‘manipulating it enough’ is still indeed copyright if you have not contacted the original author. You can read about such cases where people have been disqualified in competitions for this reason, and its becoming more common. (example: )

My own take: Is it worth your time? Just like any invoice/quote you make for your client, add up the hours it will take you and costs involved, if its worth it go for it. If its not, move on. I tend to agree with SD3D on this one in some respects.


@james and axiomatic

Thanks both and very valid points.

I think the key thing for me now is how SD3D managed to enter this post with an accusational intention bordering on trolling which I think is disgusting. Yes there is some validity in there although it is weakened by his unnecessary tone.

It’s called fan art for a reason, I am not profiting off of it, I am not claiming design rights. I made the crucial mistake of saying I was upset they were profiting off using it, well done for finding the flaw and exploiting it, I am in fact more upset that they didn’t at least ask. But yes I said ‘‘my’’ work in the header because it is exactly that…mine. The design is not but that’s not what I am claiming, I am claiming the images as mine because I made it. Had I known before posting that other people’s images had been taken too, I would have said ‘‘ours’’, because it is our work. It is simply naive to think otherwise. SD3D is attempting to get a reaction off the finest of lines but there is a very clear distinction, at least in this case. If I had posted in any other category apart from Fan Art, that line may just perhaps sway his way, especially if I had called it ‘‘my new design for a light bike’’ (see what I did there?)

Even though James tends to agree with DS3D (which is perfectly fine) At least he had the decency to still answer my question, and I agree with him too, there is no real point because it’s time wasted for what real outcome? I post on here knowing the risk of the ‘save image as’ button anyway so who am I kidding but I would have loved to have been asked, that’s it. I would have said with pleasure too, I am glad you like it!

I refuse to be forced into feeling like I should somehow apologise when I worked damn hard on it and was proud to show it to people who would enjoy it too. The Tron cycle design is unique and exceptional and I make no bones about the fact that the design is not mine. I work in arch vis and I make a good living by helping people to market their design ideas. The difference here is I didn’t ask the designer but why should I when all I am saying is ‘‘Daniel and Syd, I love your work, I loved it so much in fact that I simply had to render it too to keep showing how awesome it really is’’…maybe there was even a piece of me that wanted to know how it felt to work on such a lovely design and that’s the closest I can get. Once again, FAN ART.

Invention, innovation, copyright and copying. Nothing new…seen it all before. On CgSociety it is expected that you acknowledge when the work is not yours and if you get caught out shame on you. There is nothing wrong with creating something you like or recreating something you like because you like it, especially if your intention is just to show it. It’s gets a lot more murky when you are looking to profit and the only ethical responsibility you have is to acknowledge that it’s not your idea if it isn’t when showing and permission from the original author when selling. It’s that simple.

In my case Tron is so well known, was I stupid to think there wasn’t a need for me to say ‘‘oh btw guys I didn’t actually design the Tron light cycle’’…

To those who have been civil about responding thank you, I really appreciate it.


As somebody else mentioned.

Make your public content ‘just’ pain-in-the-ass enough not to get ‘borrowed-without-hassle’ but still show that you can ‘make-kewl-stuff’
Then keep an unmarked version on your local, personal reel that you bring to interviews only. etc. Obviously keep that version offline.


I think you’d get a better result contacting the actual IP holders and letting them handle it. At the end of the day the image is a (hopefully) non-commercial work that uses IP that isn’t yours, so you have no skin in the game here. I haven’t written an email in Chinese in years but I could potentially kludge something together. Honestly I doubt they’d reply or do anything without threat of legal action, but if it’s something OP feels strongly about then IMO he has a right to express his view to the school about it.

That said, I think copyright isn’t the biggest issue here. To me it’s that the school is using the issue to mislead prospective students by using images on the website that have no relation to the course - even if the image was bought and paid for it’d still be false advertising because it doesn’t accurately represent the product.


another thing you could do is look at it as an opportunity. Back when I was a t-shirt artist and was into airbrushing, I knew a now famous artist (Dru Blair - who painted an incredible image of a B1 Bomber screaming across a lake bed ( This was his transitional period from airbrushing t-shirts at malls and the beaches to being a full time illustrator. The military thought it was their photograph (after all, who could get such a shot like that) and used it in their promotional materials. He did sue the government for copyright infringement, but dropped the suite because…well, because its the government and technically, Boeing, designed the aircraft and is the IP owner.

However, the government loved his work and he became an official illustrator for the military. It gave him access to all kinds of aircraft, including getting to take rides in Apaches and fighter jets. He made quite a bit of money as well.

So the moral of the story, think about how you might be able to do business with this school. Especially if you are able to figure out a way to communicate with them and make it a painless and profitable experience for them.

Remember, re-bracket your thinking from a glass that is half empty to a glass that is half full and you will find plenty of water in the deserts when others cannot. At minimum, ask for credit to be given to your name and your website for the work being shown…

Another buddy of mine become incredibly skilled at CorelDraw over a few months. CorelDraw wanted to use his work for advertising. He was like, yeah, sure. His worked was published internationally, then he started getting so much work he couldn’t keep up with it. Now he’s an expert, and gets paid to speak at conferences as well as makes decent side money writing tech articles for some magazine.

There is stupid money out there to be had. You just have to find the not so well worn trails that will lead you to that revenue.

Don’t play the finite game (winner / loser and loser goes home). Play the infinite game. Sometimes you loose, just so you can keep playing. Sort of like losing a battle, but winning the war. The win is being able to sustain a career for as long as you want and to do it mostly under your conditions. You’d be surprised at how many people cannot do that.


@unnaccompanieddminor - Thanks for the reply, you are right, trying to get others involved could definitely help. I posted initially out of shock more than anything else but after seeing some of the other opinions here I would say it is actually most valid that they have taken work in order to sell something that they very well might not be capable of producing. I feel bad for the potential students that may actually sign up as a result… Anyway I have now found someone who can translate for me so will be in contact with them soon. Let’s see.

@Jon - thanks for the reply. Some very sound advice here and I really appreciate that you took the time to respond. You couldn’t be more spot on, so thank you. As I mentioned above I will be getting in touch with them soon.

Will feedback to you guys if I hear anything.
Again thanks


I did some digging around and I found an IPR help desk for help with China’s intellectual property laws.

I’ve also heard about the overseas art theft. There’s been tons of companies stealing designs from indie artists in order to make cheap knockoff products due to trying to be competitive and popular against local markets. I’m no lawyer, on my part time job I stock the shelves for a third party Merchandiser and the people I got to talk to at the gift store were school teachers specializing in Fair Trade products. Half of the stuff we get is wrapped in recycled magazines and the products in the ads matched the pictures of the box they were taken out of.

The knockoffs in theory are supposed to look like the picture. So far according to customer reviews on YouTube the products are sad imitations by default and legally the owner of the image and the owner of the product are supposed to be well aware of this. That’s what I found from snooping in the packing materials in the backstock even though I can’t read a lick of Mandarin. Good Graphic design has a way of speaking beyond words sometimes and the hungrier companies usually follow trends set by bigger industries.

If the person doesn’t know what product their artwork is endorsing then by company standards the course creators are lying to their students. Thus the artist can demand to have any and all educational materials sited back to their original owners per the IPR laws revolving around education and not lying to their clients. To sweeten the pot, they have to cite their sources back to the Tron franchise too just like you would cite in a bibliography. So that’s two infringements against them though laws vary from country to country. Again I’m no lawyer.

One of the places I register a timestamp with Myows, a free website for copyright referral services and they legally have permission to remove unapproved reposts of artwork the artist was not aware of. I had a few questions on infringement myself and they were really nice in helpful with any questions I had.