"Why do you artists always get so pissed off when someone uses your artwork? You should take it as a compliment!"
"You should take it as a Compliment --"
A compliment would be admiring an artist's work where they post it, and if you really want to use it that badly, complimenting them would be you having enough respect for them to ask first.
Most of us don't get mad because you use it, it's because you use it without asking or pretend you didn't know who/where it came from when there's a link to where you can find the original artist on the image.
Taking someone's car to crash it in a derby isn't a compliment to them any more than taking someone's art to wreck it or claim it is a compliment. More so without asking.
"What about realism artists?! They copy from photographs all the time, no originality there but you don't yell at them for copying photos! What makes some one copying/tracing another artist's work so different?"
Firstly -- When someone is referencing a photograph they are essentially looking at pure material. When you do this you are usually looking to draw something realistically and precisely enough to where it's recognizable and anatomically correct.
Referencing is not the same as tracing. Copying? Yes, to a degree but there's a hook -- Copying a stock photo to ensure decent anatomy is different than taking another artist's work and copying/tracing it for anatomy practice. If their sense of anatomy is wrong you aren't learning anything at all.
Photos can technically be someone's property but if they put it as stock or reference material they offer it for free license and use by others. They took the image with their camera but they forgo complete ownership in a way.
Secondly -- Copying a photograph for anatomically correct proportions hardly renders an image 'not creative/original'. Creativity doesn't come from the references used, it comes from the artist's ability to use them in a creative and innovative fashion. Copying or closely referencing a photograph merely dictates whether or not the final outcome is either believable or properly proportioned.
"If you didn't want it stolen, don't post it online."
If I got money for every time I've heard this, I'd have a Ferrari by now...
Look, just because it's there doesn't mean it's free to take. More so if it's got someone's name on it. My car being parked on the street doesn't mean someone can just hop in and take it for a spin -- "It was just sitting there, your name isn't on it!"
"Online ≠ Mine"
A store putting a plate of cookies out on the counter doesn't make them free unless they say 'free cookies!' and even then, you're better off asking in case it's not THOSE cookies that are free. Artists shouldn't have to be worried about their stuff getting ganked because people can't keep their hands to themselves online. It's called common sense. Use it. If you didn't make it or ask for it and get the 'okay', it's not yours.
"I'm just using your character's likeness -- it's not like I'm claiming I drew it or created it!"
And you can't create your own characters? I mean, you can write out everything about them so why not write out a description as well?
I can't entirely speak for other artists on this one but creating a character is hard work enough let alone drawing it out to the specs you want. Many of us spend hours or even days-weeks-months trying to come up with decent characters and we put a lot of heart and soul into them. To you they may just be cool drawings but to us they're our creations; part of us.
I think a lot of people are well aware that if you see someone with 20 different art styles in their list of characters chances are they didn't draw them. So it's not that people are claiming they drew them (not all the time anyway) -- it's again, using our IP for your RP without asking or respecting our rights and terms as the original creator.
You can't copyright ideas or even colours, markings, poses, and personality traits. However, images are something an artist CAN copyright. If you want to have a blue and orange wolf character that acts like Optimus Prime, fine. You can do that, but you can't take someone's wolf version of Optimus Prime and use it as a bio pic for your character without asking. Catch my drift?
Write out a bio to describe your character, it works just as well if you're a good writer -- And if you're that hard up for a visual, ask or pay an artist to draw it for your personally. Then your character will be made up to specs you want instead of having to steal to get something close.