Protecting Artistic Works on the Internet
When it comes to the unlicensed use of your work, most artists can agree that since you made it, you deserve to profit from it and no one else should be able to use it without your explicit permission. However, in light of the new Internet age that we all live in, and the media piracy that goes along with it, you might consider an alternative tactic to promoting your work.
Many of the artists I have met have all asked the same question, "How do I make sure nobody steals my work?". This is an important question that cannot be answered without addressing the very structure of the Internet itself, and is actually a topic of much debate throughout the Internet community.
The problem is this: the Internet was built and designed to operate as an open network. Originally, the idea was that all information should be shared openly and freely. That includes sound and image information as well as text. The very fact that the Internet is open is what allows a website to link to another website across one or more countries, regions or domains.
Obviously people quickly realized that sharing all information, including credit card and social security numbers, was not a good idea. SSL encryption was implemented to make financial and personal document transfers safe from prying eyes. However, this is only good for a transfer of information from one person to another. Suppose I want to share my information with everyone, but I don't want anyone to share my information with anyone else. SSL encryption, nor any other type of encryption can solve this problem. Other solutions have been put forward, such as the digital watermarking of media files, but this still does not prevent people from sharing your information with each other.
Truly, the only known solution to Internet piracy is deterrence. To stop people from re-distributing your work you must take away their motivation to do so. To help you understand how to do this, it is also important to understand the concept of resolution/fidelity. By saturating the Internet with free, low resolution/fidelity samples, you can effectively make it harder for for people to find illegal versions of your high quality works-for-sale. For instance, if you're trying to promote your new album to generate online sales, pick two or three songs to make into free give-away samples. Save the sound data at a low bit rate and sampling frequency so that there is a noticeably "low-quality" sound, and perhaps cut off the last 30 seconds of the song. Put these on the peer-to-peer networks and upload them to your mp3 host sites. The idea is that people will share your low resolution files to create word of mouth advertising for you. Use your high qulaity sound files to sell downloads of your entire album. By distributing your music this way you are making it easier for people to find and buy all your music in one easy download (your whole album) as opposed to having to scower through many, individual, low-quality samples. If the price is right, your audience will be much more motivated to "just make the purchase" and not "waste their time".
The same principle works when using digital images of your original artwork and prints. Just be sure to use the .jpg or .gif image format when posting images of your work to the Internet as these file types are completely unsuitable for life size re-printing.
As I'm sure you see by now, your Artopium profile page is already set up with features to help protect your artwork, such as automatically resizing images to a smaller resolution. Also, by uploading a few "give away" media files to your profile, you can elicit a word of mouth approach by having users share your work. Without even having to say it you have probably already realized the value of having people talk about your art or music.
If you are interested in deterring the piracy of your work further (although this may not be a good idea if you are completely unknown), you might be interested in these links to companies that provide digital watermarking software for sound and image files.