Copyright As Censorship: Comic Artist Uses DMCA To Censor Critical Blogs

from the because-isn't-that-what-copyright-is-for? dept

Another in our series on copyright being used for censorship. Pointed out by Kevin Carson, comic artist Randy Queen, the author of Darkchylde has apparently filed a bunch of DMCA takedown notices against posts on the Escher Girls Tumblr page — which “archives and showcases the prevalence of certain ways women are depicted” in various pop media, including comics. It appears that Queen did not like being criticized in this manner.

And, yes, it does appear that the Tumblr made use of his artwork — after all that’s what it does — but it seems like a fairly clear case of fair use, given the purpose and nature of the account. Furthermore, the creators of the site note that other critical posts on other Tumblrs have apparently been removed, but they haven’t found any positive versions of his work removed:

So yesterday I found out that Randy Queen (artist of DarkChylde) filed a bunch of DMCA takedown notices to Tumblr to remove posts of his covers on this blog (the entire posts, not just the images). I?ve also gotten messages from other users that he?s had their stuff removed too (redraws, etc that have been featured here). Non-critical Tumblr posts of his art/covers and those praising his work appear to be unaffected.

The folks behind Escher Girls apparently aren’t inclined to fight it (and even say they don’t wish to pick a fight with Queen), but are just informing people of what’s going on. Still it is troubling. It’s worrisome that Queen appears to be abusing the DMCA in this manner. It’s unfortunate that Tumblr just gave in. It’s disappointing that Escher Girls apparently isn’t even going to file a counternotice.

The end result is the same again: copyright is being used for censorship of criticism, rather than as an incentive for creativity.

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Comments on “Copyright As Censorship: Comic Artist Uses DMCA To Censor Critical Blogs”

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27 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: vaguness in threats = hallmark of legal thuggery

Not defamation, but perjury which is worse.

(vi) A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: vaguness in threats = hallmark of legal thuggery

That letter is pretty interesting in its cluelessness, but this part was the most clueless of all: “my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today”.

1) There is no such right in copyright law
2) If perception is his concern, he might start with not abusing the DMCA and then continuing to argue even after they already caved to his bogus filing.

Also,

“no good will come of this”

He’s right. But the bad will fall on him, not anyone else.

Anonymous Coward says:

This is an outstanding fair use case:

… the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies … for purposes such as criticism [or] comment … is not an infringement of copyright.

It also sounds like it might be an excellent DMCA 512(f) test case if he used a copyright claim to take down “entire posts, not just the images” — since there’s no way he has any rights to the entire posts.

Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under this section—

(1) that material or activity is infringing, or
(2) that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification,

shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer, by any copyright owner or copyright owner’s authorized licensee, or by a service provider, who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing, or in replacing the removed material or ceasing to disable access to it.

Easily Amused (profile) says:

Re: Common sense

Feminism has nothing to do with this.

There is an exception to copyright called fair use, pretty explicitly covering cases of criticism like this.

The correct sequence of events should have been Tumblr rejecting the DMCA claim, but they will never do that because they are too scared. Barring that, the blogger should file a counter-notice, and then Tumblr should re-instate. It looks like the blogger doesn’t want to deal with the fighting and fallout (because she probably doesn’t have a lawyer on retainer…) so she’s just rolling over, which is a shame but totally understandable.

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