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Thread: A Newcomer's Concern

  1. #1

    Default A Newcomer's Concern

    Alright, I'm a newbie here. However, I have something that is worrying me.

    I have a map I'd like to post on here. It's hand drawn and colored, and I've put more work into it than I have any other. Honestly, I did it with the intent of posting it here. I've looked through this site a lot, and I love the stuff I see, and I would be honored to have you wonderful people look at my work and hopefully give me some much wanted comments/criticism. I've also read some on how to post my map and the copyright rules. I know that anything I post on here is my work legally. If it was featured, then CG could post it on their homepage and other sites could possibly link to it (I think?).

    However, I can't help but worry. What is to keep someone from taking my map, calling it their own, and doing something else with it? What are the best ways to protect my work from theft or copying by some less-than-honorable individuals? I'm not so arrogant as to believe that my map is so amazing that people couldn't help but try and take it, but I'm still rather protective of it. I'd eventually like to base some short stories in the little world I've created...I'm actually currently working on a political map (several actually...spanning several centuries) and a basic history (some things more specific than others at the moment). The idea of anyone taking my work and calling it their own makes me very reluctant to post it on the internet.

    Again, I'd love to post my work on here and have you all look at it. However, I still don't feel exactly safe doing it. Does anyone have any words of confidence?


    P.S. I'd like to make it clear that it's not this community that I'm wary of. Though none of you know me, I have a great amount of respect for all of you. Most of these maps simply blow my mind, and give me something to aspire to. It's people on the outside that I'm more suspicious of. It's not my intent to offend anyone.

  2. #2


    You could put a watermark or put your signature/name on it. That would avoid people from calling it their own.
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  3. #3
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Ascension's Avatar
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    You can put disclaimers in your post like "Not for commercial use" but that really doesn't deter anyone. Ultimately, anyone can save the image of the map to their hard drive and put it up in some out of the way place that only a few know about and take all the credit for it and you may never even know about it. I'm betting that sort of thing happens all the time (cuz we've seen it many times before here) - dude sees a cool map, saves it, shows his friends, and tells them that he made it. However, the jig is up when they ask him to make a map for them the same way and he can't so they begin to doubt the first map was his. The dude may come back here and put up a request for a map that matches your style and that should raise red flags about his intentions. Most of us here keep what we call "Inspiration Folders" where we save cool stuff or neat ideas to explore in the future - whether it be a technique for hills or forests, cool continent shapes, neat tricks, etc. and we sometimes explore these things later in our own work. Nearly all of us give credit where it is due saying something like "I saw a neat thing by Mr X and here's my take on it". If your map goes into a published book and someone comes along and says "Hey, you stole that map from my friend cuz I've seen it before" you will certainly not have to deal with any legal questions as the dude who lifted your map knows that he did so and would never call you out on it...just his unknowing friends would. So those folks you can just ignore. Should your map just linger on a shelf somewhere for the rest of your life then there's no harm. Should you see your map appear in someone else's book then you can call them out on it and you might actually win the case but you'd lose a lot of money to the lawyers. Should the book sell millions of copies you might be able to get some royalties out of it whether you sue him or agree to something out of court. So, in the end, if you post it you should just assume that the world has seen it and someone somewhere has a copy's the way of the world. You always have your originals and the courts can settle things if push comes to shove. Not much of a confidence booster but I'm a cynic about trusting other people.
    Last edited by Ascension; 08-03-2010 at 10:11 PM.
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  4. #4
    Community Leader mearrin69's Avatar
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    My best advice is to never post full resolution images and never post the "source" file (PSD). Unscrupulous folks can still steal it and say it's theirs but you'll win any actual legal discussion of ownership if you can produce the original files at a higher resolution than they can. To my mind, the legal issues are the only ones that really count...any "reputation" issues (i.e. some schmuck claiming your map is their work around the Interwebz) are more easily resolved and less important.

  5. #5


    Anything you put online will eventually be taken and used without your permission. But as Ascension and mearrin69 have said, you can easily take steps to protect yourself legally.

    Personally, I stopped worrying about it a while ago and uncopyrighted the majority of my maps (unless a client paid for them), so anyone can use them for whatever purpose they want, be it personal or commercial. That path certainly isn't for everyone, but I guess my point is that sometimes we just need to let go a little and focus on why we make maps. For most of us, the benefits we receive from sharing our maps, getting constructive criticism and learning as a community far outweigh the potential risk of some schlub stealing our content and claiming it as their own.

    If you're worried about it, I suggest you put a license notice in your signature (Creative Commons is a popular one) so anyone taking your work has seen explicit reference to your ownership. That, coupled with your ownership of the source files, should be enough to protect you legally. - free fantasy maps for commercial or personal use ~ Campaign Cartographer 3 Review

  6. #6
    Guild Artisan LonewandererD's Avatar
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    Jun 2009


    Putting on a watermark or sig has already been said but if you do it than put it on in a way that makes it impposible to remove by cropping without destroying other noticeable details of the map. If someone sees a map than they can tell has been cropped they're going to ask about the rest of the map which can put the taker in an awkward situation. Of course people can remove the watermark in photoshop but if they have that kind of talent than they should really be making maps, not stealing them. Also, I've done a map at full resolution, or even full size in most cases and alwasy keep the psd file.

    Not wanting to hijack the conversation but if you see a map and have questions about it, is it okay to post a sample of it here for inquiry if you reference where you got it?

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  7. #7


    Watermarking was mentioned earlier and has been discussed before.
    There is a method of invisible watermarking that costs M-O-N-E-Y for a form of protection. I once subscribed to Digimarc for a basic watermark ID - I notice it now costs $50 per year and you can watermark 1000 images for that.
    Basically your ID number gets encoded into the image and programs can read it. Digimarc maintain your record and number and people can look up the owner of the watermark. I did it for a year or so and I'm attaching one of my watermarked images (NOT a map - sorry) so you can play with it. (My "Olly" sig has nothing to do with the Digimarc watermark btw)
    Basically something like Paintshop Pro has a View-Watermark pop down menu, if you use that on this image it should show my number (354519) and let you look up the Digimarc website registry of that number. Since I haven't maintained my payments for registry they seem to have lost me! No matter. The principle is demonstrable. PSP also puts a Copyright symbol on the PSP image window (that's nice!... erm)
    As an experiment you might like to try cropping and messing around with the image to see how much or little it takes to mess up the watermark? The theory being - I guess - that you have to do sufficient "damage" that makes your own original more provable as the original.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Does that make sense????

    edit: this watermark was done back in 2003 so they may have improved the thing since then
    Last edited by Crayons; 08-04-2010 at 03:16 AM. Reason: addendum
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  8. #8
    Administrator Redrobes's Avatar
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    Id say if you post something on the internet or make it public in any way then it gets copied whether copyright or not and by people who are commercial, and even government sponsored so if the information is secret enough - dont post it. Next I would agree with above posts - are you wanting to stop people copying or want to be legally the owner in case of copying cos thats two different things. Next I would not CC license any work which you might one day publish in a book. Thats gonna be a no no to the book publisher.

    Thats interesting about the watermark Crayons. I looked at your image and seen the Digimark noted and saw how robust it is. Not bad really. Copes with resize and some slight blur but 10 degree rotation took it out. Also I noted that if you clamp the black then it goes too. I think this is a good idea in the way of registering that this image is owned by you in a kind of digital signature kind of way.

    However I would just like to submit the following image for your appraisal Crayons.... you might want to try it ! I think this says everything you need to know about these paid watermarks. So I do hope they have improved it since then.
    Last edited by Redrobes; 08-04-2010 at 10:51 AM.

  9. #9


    I had and have the same concerns and questions you do. Personally, I figured my best work is yet to come and I thought that if I wanted to learn to do art in this digital world I would have to take some chances along the way. Yeah, I look at my settings/attachments here and see that folks are downloading my images. I can't figure out why they would download some of the little scribble experiments but whatever. In the long haul, I learn with every post of mine. The advice to not post at full resolution is probably the most certain protection. If they don't have all the pixels you do and/or don't have the full size image you have all the proof it is your work. I always sign my pieces but that is easily cropped. Also state your reserved rights or whatever along with the image.

    I was watching a professional artist working on a piece and he said, "Anything I draw, I can draw again. Usually better than the first time." So, if you had to, you could recreate a map by hand and it would probably be better than your first version anyway.

    It is the Internet and is filled with people lacking in moral fiber, someone somewhere is going to take your artwork and wallpaper their room or something. Are they going to make millions off of it? If they can do that with mine, I want them to contact me because for a small share I'd be happy to provide them with a heckofa lot more. Clearly they have a business savvy I lack.

    I'm also 43 years old and figure I've only got so many decades left to do this. I can't afford to horde my art in the top of my closet any longer. If I get ripped off I'll be livid, but anything I create I can do better so in the end I figure they are only getting my leftovers. Time for me to step out of my comfort zone.

    If you go sign up on diviantArt they have a setting to put their watermark on anything you post there. It's free but it wouldn't be the same as hosting it here and you might not get as many comments/critiques simply because some might not want to navigate away from this site.
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  10. #10
    Community Leader Facebook Connected torstan's Avatar
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    I agree. It's better to have your work up and get comments than for it to be hidden away in case someone were to steal it and use it for their own nefarious means. There are cases where people have reposted guild work on other sites. But the people here are good at spotting it, and in all cases so far the person who has been reposting it has taken it down (and usually been very apologetic in the process).

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