Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 5, 2014

Scorn Heaped On Artist Randy Queen For Use Of DMCA Challenges Against Posting Of Art

There's a summary write-up at The Outhouse here about old-school Image style artist Randy Queen using Digital Millennium Copyright Act challenges to go after sites that post examples of his work while criticizing that work. Here's a Beat article; here's one of what one assumes is a run of similarly-aimed articles from Techdirt. There was subsequent complaining about the way this action was ridiculed from multiple corners of the Internet, including talk of defamation.

Queen's actions are so clearly, goofily wrongheaded I can't even begin to formulate a counter-argument for the artist. I do recognize the impulse, though, and it's not one unfamiliar to anyone that's posted artwork in a way that artists or artist representatives don't approve of, particularly a review or an article about a creative work that's not on message. Anyone that's ever received an e-mail from a big-publishing publicist complaining about too much art being used in a review where everything is clearly contextual, faintly hinting at getting "legal" involved, has encountered a less aggressive version of this same thing.

Never, never, never be afraid of asserting your rights in this area.

I'm not familiar with the sites in question, but I think it's important to bend over backwards in the direction of fair use even if we don't like or approve of the way in which folks make use of art. There are so many outright assumptions of copyright the way we're set up now that it seems to me there's a clear distinction between use of work in a way that's subordinate to another work (an act of criticism) and outright content appropriation. In fact, it's even more important we bend over backwards when our own work is involved. I certainly don't think that as asserted by Queen there's a right to control how your work is perceived, no matter how many people think would love for that to be the case. How we got to a place where anyone might think this, that will always fascinate me.
posted 8:05 am PST | Permalink

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