Getty Images Tries To Copyright Troll 2600 Magazine Over Content It Has No Copyright Over
from the total-failure dept
So, we were just discussing Getty Images’ latest foray into ridiculous copyright trolling (something the company has a long history with), by demanding money for a meme image used on a blog. Today, we have another example of Getty Images copyright trolling that is even worse. It’s so bad, that Getty Images doesn’t even have a legitimate copyright claim here at all, let alone abusing a legitimate copyright to shakedown someone. The target? The famed hacker publication 2600, which a Getty subsidiary, Trunk Archive, claimed was infringing on one of its images. The cover is actually from 2600’s Spring 2012 issue, which you can see below:
But, the story is even worse than that. Because Getty doesn’t hold the copyright (or represent the copyright holder) for those splotches. That’s because the artist who created 2600’s cover kept track of how that image was created, and noted that he was actually using this splotch painting from a Finnish artist who goes by the username Loadus on Deviant Art — and it appears that whoever took the photograph of that dude standing in front of a painting was using that same image. In other words, whatever copyright there is in those splotches belongs to that Finnish artist Loadus, and not the photographer who took the image of some dude standing in front of it. Here, 2600 has overlaid the situation on the full painting:
So not only is Trunk Archive trying to scare people into paying them for images, but they’re apparently doing this for images they have absolutely no connection to. This insanity needs to end. In the first place, our use of such an image easily qualifies as a transformative work under the fair use doctrine. The absurdly minimal amount of the image used also would qualify it for protection. And then there’s the little fact that they have no right to be telling anyone what to do with this image in the first place since they don’t even own it. By their own rules, they ought to be cutting a sizable check to Loadus for what are undoubtedly countless uses of his art.
It’s indeed impressive that Trunk Archive managed to match these little ink splotches. That’s where the coolness factor ends. We cannot tolerate artists being threatened for creating derivative or transformative works. If this were to stand consistently, all forms of art would soon grind to a halt as none could be created without constantly paying off these people. Most others aren’t like us – they aren’t lucky enough to have lots of people defending them and spreading the word. What happens in their cases is that they are forced to either pay up, be hounded, or hire an attorney that will wind up costing more than the settlement being demanded. If we allow that to happen, creative expression will suffer across the board.
For now, calling attention to these abuses is what’s needed. Joining with existing legal action or beginning new challenges to stop this sort of thing in the future is essential. We intend to continue with all of this. We thank Trunk Archive for opening our eyes to this abuse and helping to get us actively involved.
So that’s twice this week that we’re seeing Getty Images act not just like a typical copyright troll, but one that is so drunk with shakedown power that it’s not even bothering to understand just what the fuck it’s doing. But, of course, the company can get away with this kind of stuff because (1) there’s no punishment for abusing the law in this manner and (2) many sites will probably just pay up rather than deal with the legal threats. It’s legalized extortion, and Getty is profiting from it at the expense of actual creators. In yesterday’s post, Getty gave some bullshit answer about protecting the rights of the artist. What’s its excuse going to be this time?