I get this question a lot – here is what one artist emailed:
“When you have a potential lead with a company and you present them some of your art work, how do you know your work is safe? Should you copyright your work first? How do I know my work is safe if and when I present them my work online.”
Here is my response:
I copyright my art every quarter – bundle all your new stuff together, keep good records and get into the habit. Then if you are infringed in a big way – you can do something about it in court. If you are infringed in a smaller way and it isn’t worth legal fees, you can at least send a cease and desist letter, with proof of copyright, and usually scare people into legal alignment. 🙂
You are never 100% safe. There are disreputable people and companies out there. The best defense is to do your research (as much as possible) on companies before sending your art. Always send low res files for review as well.
However – without showing anyone your work, you’ll never get anywhere. So do what you can and don’t obsess. That’s how I approach it anyway.
I hope this helps!
Here’s to your creative success!
– Tara Reed
P.S. Here is a blog post I wrote about registering copyrights in large groups – save some money for art supplies that way!