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:
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.
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.