Comic Artist Randy Queen Now Claims Post About His Abuse Of Copyright To Stifle Criticism Is Defamatory

from the censoriousness-by-any-means-possible dept

So, this morning we wrote about comic artist Randy Queen sending copyright notices to Tumblr to make a bunch of posts disappear, which were critical of his work. The take downs were for the Tumblr Escher Girls, which tracks and highlights the ways in which women are portrayed in popular media (frequently comics) — basically highlighting the ridiculous manner in which women are often drawn. Queen apparently wasn’t too happy about it and issued copyright takedowns to Tumblr, despite the strong fair use defense. The Escher Girls blog posted what was, frankly, an incredibly even-handed post about the situation, just letting people know what was going on. The author specifically noted no desire to fight back or attack Queen, but just to let people know. It appeared that Escher Girls had no plan to even file a counter notice.

Still, apparently just that post was too much for Queen. Ami Angelwings, the owner of Escher Girls tweeted out this morning that Queen is now threatening to sue her for defamation over the post. Here’s his email:

If you can’t read it, it says:

Dear Eschergirls and Kim,

I would encourage you to put a stop to all of this. I have no problem getting legal involved for defamation, and for your various allegations on your takedown notice thread, and am happy to send a formal cease and desist letter from my lawyer.

Instead of simply removing the content you do not have the right to electronically distribute, you wish to push further, and publicly challenges my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today.

At this point, I will ask you to please move along, as no good will come of this.

Additionally, instead of taking shots at art someone did 18 years ago while they were still learning – which are no longer representative of their current art style or direction for their character – I encourage you to spend your time and energy on creating your own characters and comics which you can mkae your own personal sacrifices to bring to the world.

Sincerely,
~R

Where to start? So, we go from bogus attempts to stifle criticism via copyright law, to then trying to stifle discussion of that stifling by bogus defamation threats. Someone really doesn’t like being criticized apparently.

Anyway, it’s difficult to see how there’s anything close to defamation here. Queen is a public figure and this was pure criticism of his artwork and then a factual explanation of a takedown he or his people sent. To show defamation he’d first need to show what was false (and notice that his email provides no example of any false statement — only that he doesn’t like the opinions being expressed) and that it was done with “actual malice” which seems desperately unlikely here. Perhaps, rather than “threatening” to “get legal involved,” Queen would have been better served speaking to a lawyer who might disabuse him of his apparent notion that “stuff I don’t like about me” is “defamation.”

Second, concerning the copyright arguments. Queen ought to familiarize himself with fair use. Again, this was a pretty clear case of fair use. They were using very small snippets of his comic work, clearly for the non-commercial purpose of criticism. It’s almost exactly what fair use was designed for.

Third, Escher Girls was not “publicly challeng[ing]” Queen’s right to “protect the perception of my IP.” You have no right to protect the perception of your IP. Perception is an individual thing. At most, he might be able to make a claim that he had a legitimate right to do a takedown, but even so none of that would ever stop Escher Girls (or anyone else) from then discussing the takedown notice and what happened. Queen already appear to believe copyright provides him more rights than it does (since he doesn’t seem to understand fair use), but to take that even further and pretend it also allows you to police the perception of his work is really far out there. Again, he might want to “get legal involved” earlier in the process, before he makes even more ridiculous statements.

And, indeed, “no good will come of this” sounds about right, but it was Queen who probably should have “moved along” rather than trying to (1) abuse copyright law to pull down criticism and now (2) abuse bogus defamation claims to try to silence a blog post about his abuse of copyright law.

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Comments on “Comic Artist Randy Queen Now Claims Post About His Abuse Of Copyright To Stifle Criticism Is Defamatory”

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60 Comments
sorrykb (profile) says:

Alternate Reality Version

[How this could have ended, before he went full Streisand]

Dear Escher Girls,

Someone sent me a link to your Tumblr (great stuff there!) that included some images from my early work. Looking back at that time, sometimes I cringe a bit, but please understand this was 18 years ago and I was a young artist with a lot to learn.

My work has evolved considerably since then, and I invite you to have a look at some more recent comics at [here’s my website – feel free to promote it].

Thanks!

All the best,
Randy Queen

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Alternate Reality Version

[How this could have ended, before he went full Streisand]

Agree, that is exactly how this should have ended. But I am afraid he is already well on his way to a Carreon. Streisand just got upset when someone posted pictures of her house online. She didn’t threaten to sue for defamation when they wrote about her threat.

Kevin Carson (user link) says:

Randy Queen defames own character

I doubt anybody else’s actions could possibly be as “defamatory” to what Randy Queen loosely refers to as his “character” than what Queen is doing himself. He’s revealing himself to be a thin-skinned bully engaged in what used to be called “vexatious abuse of process” (basically a SLAPP lawsuit) to censor criticism of his work, and he thinks he can get away with it because he’s got deep pockets.

Unfortunately for Mr. Queen, he is pig-ass stupid as well as small-minded, mean and petty. He’s about to be taken to school on what the Streisand Effect means, and when it’s finally over his “character” is gonna be defamed about four orders of magnitude more than it would’ve been had he had the sense to leave Escher Girls alone.

Kevin Carson (user link) says:

Queen's gone off the Streisand Scale

Queen has gone into full Streisand meltdown mode, now trying to stop anybody from reblogging the Escher Girls posts of his DMCA takedown notice and legal threat.

Apparently he thought he could skulk around under cover of darkness like some kind of filthy diseased rat and have the posts quietly taken down without anybody noticing, and now that he’s been surprised by the Streisand Effect biting his sorry ass he’s foaming at the mouth.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Additionally, instead of taking shots at art someone did 18 years ago while they were still learning – which are no longer representative of their current art style…” The whole point of criticism, be it good or bad, is to build a body of work that shows the overall growth of the author/artist and his works over the years and if Princess Precious, I mean Prince Precious, doesn’t like it then tough luck.

Oh yea, (too me at least) he’s a Todd McFarlane clone so that guarantees I won’t be purchasing any of his comics.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don't be cruel.

Why is everyone ganging up on this one individual’s request?

Randy is his own artist, struggling like most of us, trying to succeed in his art form. If he feels threaten it must be for good reason. We shouldn’t be so cruel.

Respect his decision and move on. How is his decision hurting you? No need to be spiteful.

Mike Kerr says:

Re: Don't be cruel.

Becasue the law that protects the idiots IPalsodirecly allows the “Fair Use” of that IP. He vilatd the very law that he was trying to use. And iun the second DCMA request very likely committed the criminal act of Perjury, since he demaded the take-down of the BLOGGERs IP

Feeling threatened(That would take national problems to do in this case, is not a excuse to break the law and threaten people as he has.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Don't be cruel.

Why is everyone ganging up on this one individual’s request?

Because he is attempting to stifle speech using copyright law. Why did he only request that uses of his work that show them in an unfavorable way be taken down?

Randy is his own artist, struggling like most of us, trying to succeed in his art form.

Cool beans. There is absolutely no problem with that statement, except that it is irrelevant to this discussion.

If he feels threaten it must be for good reason.

Sorry, feeling threatened does not suddenly give you more rights then those that already exist.

We shouldn’t be so cruel.

Who is being cruel? Pointing out that Randy took the worst possible route and then him doubling-down on it made him look like an idiot isn’t being cruel, it’s a truthful opinion.

Respect his decision and move on. How is his decision hurting you? No need to be spiteful.

His decision undermines Fair Use and that affects everyone. If you took a little time to understand Fair Use you would know how important it is, even to artists. Without Fair Use copyright would run afoul of the First Amendment and copyright couldn’t exist in the United States at all. It’s not spite driving the critics of these actions, it’s common sense. Though I do wonder what drove him to issue the DMCA notices in the first place, because that appears spiteful to me.

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