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Is downloading an image considered theft?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2022 | White Collar Crimes

At any time, you can right-click on a picture online, scroll down to “save image” and have that image backed up on your computer forever. People do this daily and excessively. The images you find on blogs, news and social media may not even be the original. 

Every form of art is given copyright protection upon creation. This simply means that the creator of original art has a say in how their art is used – that includes images. Improper use of artwork could land you with big fines. 

So you may be wondering if downloading an image online will cost you. Here’s what you should know:

Copyright protection limits

Copyright protection defends an artist from having their work used in the wrong hands. This means an artwork can’t be reproduced, sold, stolen or distributed without the consent of the original creator. 

If you were to download an image online and post it on your blog or news site then you are infringing on the original creator’s copyright protection. Unless you get permission from the original creator, then the use of their image could be illegal. 

But why can you download images off Google whenever you want? That’s because the use of the image matters more than a download. If you want the image for your personal collection, that’s generally acceptable — but using it for your blog or website without permission is not.

NFT theft

Art theft has been a big topic of discussion among those interested in the new non-fungible tokens (NFT). NFTs are sold as original images auctioned off to potential buyers — and they’re a highly debated topic.

The problem is that these images, like any image online, can be easily saved to your computer. People have been using this trick to resell NFTs as their own – infringing on their copyright protection. This theft has led to billions of losses in the marketplace and massive fines. 

If you are accused of stealing online art then you may need to know your options. People unknowingly infringe on copyright protection because of the tools they have, and that can lead to both civil and criminal legal issues.