Since I had the opportunity, I asked her if she would like to write an article concerning this matter, and she jumped at the chance! So following is WDWParksGal thoughts on this situation.
I have been creating Photomanipulations for about six-years now. I have learned a lot, not just by experimenting with my PhotoShop Elements Programs that I have purchased over the years, but by watching YouTube tutorial videos, talking to other Manipulators, reading dA Tutorials by those deviants kind enough to write out detailed instructions featuring what they have learned and by joining groups like manipulatethis that have a community of manipulators that are willing to comment, give critiques and share tips with other members. Even deviants like RedHeadStock that provide brushes and instructions on how to use/adjust them, Tutorial artists that explain about various effects, for example lighting, and manipulators like thefantasim who write out full-page articles outlining how to produce Space and Depth, as well as explaining Elements and Principals of Design, Differences Between Scenes and Design, or just talking about "stuff manipers need to know", have helped me greatly over the years.
Those are prime examples of the positive aspects of the Photomanipulation Gallery, presently being overseen by SanguineVamp.
The Photomanipulation community is a tight one and we all usually encourage and support each other.... even when the seedier side of the Internet surfaces its ugly head.... art theft and hot-linking.
Art theft comes in different sizes and intents. A theft can be as minor as taking a picture and re-posting it on another site (not for sale) to taking a deviation and setting it up as prints, T-Shirts and other merchandise for sale. The thieves can go as far as to re-post the work putting their own watermarks and signatures on the art!
When posting work on deviantART, a screen name is imbedded in the code. How? I have NO idea, but I can say I have found my work all over the world on a variety of sites simply by using Google to search for my screen name or using the image link (click on the camera) to locate a specific deviation (right-click and choose 'copy image location'). If a site posts a wallpaper with a link to one of my sites, that's fine, but I have seen my wallpapers and private work, like my manipulations, on other sites with "new" signatures and a download that shows it has been re-posted with no link back.
To fight the theft, a letter has to written to the hosting site in the language of the host. Finding out what language the site is in is a trick. If the language can be deciphered using an online translator, either use Google Translator or see if there is another deviant that may be able to provide help in writing a coherent letter to the hosting site. Provide links to the original works, link to the site of the thief/thieves and demand to have the stolen work taken down. Sites like eBay will require a link to every single stolen work matched with the thief's doppelganger. It can be time-consuming and a pain in the rear, but often the stolen work will be removed. One kicker that can be an obstacle is having to pay for membership to a site where stolen works are posted before a complaint can be filed. Depending on the cost of joining, it may not worth the time and trouble to join in order to report the theft.
If a stolen piece is taken from one deviant and posted on the site of another deviant, then report the theft to the Help Desk by using the "Report Deviation" button on the lower, right of the deviation page. Provide the link to your own work that was stolen and a $taff member will get to it promptly. dA takes art theft very seriously.
Hot-linking is when someone illegally links to the download of a posted work and has it set so that when his/her site is opened the work appears. How to tell when a deviation is hot-linked is easy enough. The downloads far exceed the deviation views! When hot-linking, a person is stealing dA's bandwidth, which is a no-no!
Recently I found one my stock exclusives that I thought I had well hidden, not only have over 5000 views but have over 8000 downloads! Once it was found, I re-saved it to a Sta.sh and deleted it. For some of my manipulations (from both of my sites) that I have found hot-linked, I had to edit and disable the download option. It is especially annoying considering it screws with my statistics! For wallpapers that were hot-linked, I edited and made the wallpaper 1600 pixels then disabled the download. I didn't have a chance to go through all my manipulations and wallpapers but did manage to get through some of the more popular ones.
I suspect this one is hot-linked due to the fact the downloads are nearly equal to the deviation views and there were four downloads just today:
This had over 62,000 downloads before I disabled the download, whereas the deviation views are short of 35,000:
On my stock site, =WDWParksGal-Stock I had to disable the download on a manipulation that I made into a wallpaper that is clearly marked that it is not stock:
Also on my stock site are these wallpapers I just found where you can see the downloads exceed the deviations views, showing they are still hot-linked: