If you’ve ever bought an avatar or an in-game item for a few dollars from a site other than the official game platform, there’s a good chance it was stolen. That’s according to a new report from artists who say their creations are being sold without their permission.
The report, published this week by the Better Business Bureau, found that many avatars and in-game items sold on third-party websites are ripped off from the original creators. In some cases, the creators’ names and identifying information are even included in the file names of the stolen items.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said one artist, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “These are items that we’ve put our time and effort into, and they’re being sold without our permission.”
According to the report, the majority of stolen avatars and in-game items are sold on websites that cater to a specific game. For example, there are websites that sell only “League of Legends” avatars, and others that focus on “World of Warcraft” or “Second Life.”
The artists who spoke to the Better Business Bureau said they have no way of knowing how many of their creations have been stolen and sold on these websites. But they added that the problem is likely widespread, given the number of avatars and in-game items for sale on these sites.
“It’s hard to tell how many of our creations have been stolen, because there are so many of them out there,” one artist said. “Every time I see one of my creations being sold without my permission, it feels like a punch in the gut.”
The artists said they have contacted the companies that operate the websites where their stolen creations are being sold, but they have not received any response. They also said they have contacted the payment processors that handle transactions on these sites, but they have not been successful in getting the stolen items removed.
“It’s frustrating, because we know our creations are being sold without our permission, but we can’t do anything about it,” one artist said.
The artists said they are concerned that the sale of stolen avatars and in-game items could damage their reputations and careers. They added that they are also worried about the impact this could have on the gaming community as a whole.
“If people think they can just go and buy stolen items, it will devalue the work of all artists,” one artist said. “It’s not fair to the people who create these items, and it’s not fair to the gamers who support us.”
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for websites that sell stolen avatars and in-game items. The bureau also advises gamers to be cautious when buying items from these sites, as they may not be authentic.
If you’ve ever bought a digital avatar or “skin” for your favorite online game, there’s a good chance it was created by someone who was paid pennies for their work – or worse, stolen outright from another artist.
That’s according to a new report from Polygon, which spoke to several professional artists who create these digital items. Many of them said they were paid less than $1 per avatar, and some said they had their work stolen and sold without their permission.
“It’s not uncommon for me to see my work for sale on sites like Etsy and eBay, often for much more than I was paid for it,” one artist, who wished to remain anonymous, told Polygon. “It’s frustrating, because I put a lot of time and effort into my work, and it’s not like I can go after the people who are selling it without my permission.”
Another artist said she was paid just $30 for a custom avatar that was later sold for $3.99 on a popular game site. And a third artist said he found his work being sold on a Russian website without his knowledge or permission.
“It’s not just avatars, either,” he said. “I’ve seen people selling entire 3D models of characters and environments that they’ve stolen from artists. It’s a huge problem, and it’s getting worse.”
The artists interviewed by Polygon said the vast majority of their work is done for “free-to-play” games, in which players can buy in-game items with real money. These items can range from simple avatars to complex animations and 3D models.
While some game companies do pay their artists fairly, many do not, and the artists said they often have no recourse if their work is stolen or used without permission.
“It’s a race to the bottom, really,” one artist said. “There are so many people willing to do this work for next to nothing, and so many games that are happy to take advantage of that. Until something changes, it’s just going to keep happening.”
So if you’re thinking of buying a digital item for your favorite game, be aware that the artist who created it may have been exploited in the process. And if you’re thinking of selling your own digital art, be sure to protect your work with a watermark or copyright notice.
It’s no secret that the internet is full of piracy, but streaming services and content creators are particularly vulnerable to theft. This was highlighted recently when a number of high-profile voice actors and streamers revealed that the “magic avatars” they’d purchased for their characters were in fact stolen art.
The avatars in question are virtual representations of real people, used to add a more personal touch to characters in online games and other digital media. They can be purchased from a number of online stores, and while they’re not particularly expensive, they’re still a valuable commodity.
Unfortunately, it seems that many of these avatars are being stolen from their original creators and resold without permission. This not only deprives the artists of their rightful earnings, but it also means that the avatar buyers are technically committing copyright infringement.
Some victims of this avatar theft have spoken out about the problem, warning others to be aware of the potential for fraud. In most cases, it’s difficult to tell if an avatar has been stolen unless the artist comes forward and says so, but there are a few ways to check.
If you’re thinking of buying an avatar, do some research on the artist and make sure they’re actually selling the avatar in question. Also, be wary of anyone selling avatars for unusually low prices; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Sadly, the prevalence of avatar theft highlights the dark side of the internet. While it’s easy to enjoy the many wonderful creations that are shared online, we must remember that creators must be respected and compensated for their hard work. Otherwise, we risk losing out on all the great art that makes the internet such a magical place.
If you paid $3.99 for an “avatar” online, there’s a good chance it was stolen from a professional artist, according to a new report.
The problem is rampant on sites like Fiverr and eBay, where users can buy and sell all sorts of digital goods, from social media handles to website logos. And it’s not just a few isolated incidents — professional artists say they’re regularly seeing their work being sold without permission.
“It’s becoming more and more of a problem,” said artist Molly Krause, who recently had one of her avatars stolen and resold on Fiverr. “As someone who makes a living off my art, it’s frustrating to see my work being sold without my permission — or worse, without any credit at all.”
Krause is far from the only one. A quick search of “avatar” on Fiverr turns up hundreds of results, many of which appear to be stolen work. And it’s not just avatars — a search for “logo design” turns up thousands of results, many of which appear to be ripped off from professional designers.
Some of the artists who spoke to Mashable said they’ve even had their work used to sell other, unrelated products, like T-shirts and coffee mugs.
“It’s not just about the money — though that’s certainly part of it,” said Krause. “It’s also about the principle. These sites are essentially enabling art theft, and it needs to stop.”
So what can be done? Unfortunately, it’s not easy to track down the origin of a stolen piece of art, and even harder to get stolen work taken down from sites like Fiverr and eBay.
“All I can really do is report it and hope that the site takes it down,” said Krause. “But it’s a frustrating and time-consuming process, and I know my work is still out there being sold without my permission.”
The best bet for artists is to watermark their work or otherwise protect it from being easily copied and resold. But even that’s no guarantee — as Krause knows all too well.
“It’s just disappointing to see my work being stolen and sold without my permission,” she said. “It’s a constant battle, and one that I don’t see ending anytime soon.”
A new study has found that the majority of magic avatars being sold online are stolen from their original creators.
The study, conducted by the University of Surrey, looked at a sample of 100 magic avatar sellers and found that only 20% of them were the original creators of the characters.
The other 80% of sellers had simply bought the characters from someone else, often for less than $5.
The study’s lead author, Dr. David Marshall, said that the findings were “worrying” as it suggests that the majority of people buying magic avatars are unwittingly supporting thieves.
“This is a type of online theft that is often overlooked but which can have a real impact on the creators of these characters,” he said.
“These artists put a lot of time and effort into creating these characters and they deserve to be compensated for their work.”
If you’re thinking of buying a magic avatar, be sure to check that the seller is the original creator. Otherwise, you could be inadvertently supporting theft.