Greetings, fellow deviants. Today, I would like to clear up a misunderstanding that seems to be very frequent among new and not-so-new members alike:
DeviantART is NOT an "image hosting website" (like Photobucket, Flickr, Imageshack, etc.) DeviantART is a website where artists can showcase their own work -- pictures, photographs or writings that were made by themselves, from scratch. Anything else has no place here on dA.
Here are a few examples of what is considered unacceptable under dA's policy:
A user finds an artwork, or a collection of artworks, on Google or Photobucket. They upload the artworks on dA because "they want to show these beautiful images to other people, too". This is also unacceptable, even with a disclaimer such as "I didn't make this" or "I found this image on Google".
As long as you're not the original artist, don't upload it here. Otherwise, sooner or later your gallery will get reported and you will get banned. It's as simple as that.
A user takes a stock image from a movie, game or series (a screenshot, sprite, promotional artwork etc.) and makes an icon, signature banner, wallpaper, motivational poster or design. In this case, while the user did put a lot of work behind their creation, the fact that the original stock image is copyrighted to a third party to begin with makes the submission invalid, even if the submission contains a disclaimer like "[Series] is (C) [author or studio]".
For more information, here's a quote from FAQ #8: What are violations of the deviantART copyright policy?
"Generally speaking any submission which is directly built upon the existing work of another artist, photographer, or writer could potentially be considered to be a case of copyright infringement. These works may feature screenshots, official artwork or sprites taken from a video game, scans from an art book, artwork found on a website somewhere on the internet or a photograph of a famous person (just to name a few examples), but in every case the basic image, graphic or writing used is the legal property of another artist."
Let me re-iterate: motivationals, signature banners, sprite comics, wallpapers with copyrighted stock images, etc., are NOT valid submissions under dA's policy and will be deleted.
If you're a game or anime wallpaper artist, you might want to consider the following websites, where you're likely to get recognition for your hard work:
For signatures and icons, there are plenty of forums dedicated solely to GFX artists. You might feel more at home here:
For everything else, there's Photobucket, Flickr, MySpace, 4chan, and so on and so forth.
A user traces, re-colors or draws over an existing artwork. I've seen this happen a lot, especially with Sonic the Hedgehog fanart for some reason.
Here's what the FAQ has to say (found at FAQ #304: Do you remove copies and trace-over art?)
"Referenced, copied or inspired works should be created completely through your own efforts and must not directly contain any portions of the referenced work revealing it to be a manipulation or edit of the original.
A referenced, copied or inspired work which shows evidence of being directly traced, re-colored, 'painted-over', vector traced or which reproduces the original in exacting detail will be at increased risk of being removed by staff."
In other words, while you may feel that recoloring an artwork or screenshot and saying "This is my OC!" is justified, the staff and general community here have a different opinion. So don't post that kind of "artwork" here.
If you want to use a stock image you didn't make, be sure you have permission from the original artist and you give credit where credit is due;
If you're thinking of uploading artworks you didn't make just to "share", don't;
If you think you can get away with passing someone else's work as your own, you won't -- someone will find you eventually, and it won't be pretty.
That said, from what I've seen, a lot of people simply don't know the rules. They don't think they're doing anything wrong, and once they're made aware that they're in violation of dA's copyright policies they will take down the respective works. Other people, however, go on the defensive and resort to flaming, harassing or spamming those who try to help. Don't feed the trolls. Report and move on.