2600 Explains Eloquently How Excessive Copyright Harms Everyone

from the chilling-effects dept

Last week, we wrote about how the famous hacker magazine 2600 received a copyright threat letter concerning the cover of its Spring 2012 issue (which, we noted, meant that the three-year statute of limitations had passed for a copyright claim anyway). But this was even worse, because the “claim” was over some ink splotches that were in the background of an image that the threat letter claimed copyright over, and which 2600 used a tiny bit of on its cover. Except… that the splotches themselves were actually from a Finnish artist going by the name Loadus, and licensed freely for either commercial or non-commercial use.

The orange is the magazine cover. The purple is the image the copyright threat letter was about and the green is the actual painting that is freely licensed.

There was some confusion over who sent the threat letter, as it officially came from a company called Trunk Archive, but was sent by a company called License Compliance Services (which appears to be a copyright-troll-for-hire business), but also used an entity called Picscout which is owned by notorious copyright troll Getty Images. Either way, after 2600 pointed out how ridiculous this was, License Compliance Services sent a ridiculous email saying the matter had been closed:

Subject: Case #373018082 , Ref #4440-1159-6664

Hello, I just wanted to take a moment to inform you that after further review this matter has been closed.


Madison Streete
License Compliance Services
P. 1.855.387.8725
E. lcs@lcs.global
605 Fifth Avenue South, Suite 400
Seattle, WA 98104

For what it’s worth, that address is also the address of Getty Images, so it appears that LCS may be a part of Getty Images after all.

Either way, 2600 points out that this response is fairly ridiculous, given that the company just tried to shake 2600 down for a large sum of money based on a totally bullshit claim. And from there, 2600 goes off on a nice and wonderful rant about the stupidity of copyright maximalism, and the belief that everything must be licensed and paid for. It’s wonderful and you should read it:

We’re talking about the attempts to license everything under the sun, using high technology to match the tiniest of images, and crushing the very concept of fair use. Art has always been derivative and transformative – our cover at the center of all this is a great example of such a work (just not with any of Trunk Archive’s material). But by making people look over their shoulders whenever they try to create something unique using elements of existing works, a chilling effect is created that will result in less works being created. This is also bad for the original artist, who is robbed of the opportunity to see how their creation can be adapted and transformed into something completely different. But in the end, we are all hurt by this kind of thing. Creations such as remixes of music, mashups, new arrangements and interpretations, parody, patchworks of images, logos and pictures captured on film, snippets of code – they can all be identified and monetized. That neat little app on your phone that can identify music? Imagine that going out and automatically charging a fee for anyone who has captured a bit of that music on something they created. Every corporate logo you capture in a picture would also have to be paid for. Imagine where this technology can take us in the next few years if this unbridled greed isn’t reigned in.

This has nothing to do with art as most any artist will tell you. It’s about control and intimidation, using the prospect of payoffs to lure in unsuspecting contributors. With that in mind, the LCS/Trunk Archive slogan of “Creations Are Valuable” makes sense in a much more opportunistic light. That’s why we need to make sure this derivation of art never catches on. Our case may be over, but this is a fight that is only just beginning.


Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: 2600, getty images, license compliance services, trunk archive

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Comments on “2600 Explains Eloquently How Excessive Copyright Harms Everyone”

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Anonymous Coward says:

"create something unique using elements of existing works" ... That's not unique.

That’s the whole problem, kids: using someone else’s work. — Back up a second. Disclaimer: I’m not defending Getty. — Anyway, when you COPY that’s the whole of the problem.

“Fair use” must be FAIR. That does not mean, as you “copyright minimalists” wish, the entirety of $100 million dollar movies “shared” on Megaupload. That’s illegal, am I right? Any “copyright moderates” around to support me? … … Nope, none spoke up. No moderates here.

It’s not even difficult to create ORIGINAL graphics like the bit 2600 copied! Ten minutes with MS Paint and DONE, “retro” look, NO worries about copyright at all! WHY NOT DO THAT INSTEAD OF COPY? You are NOT thereby harmed, may even have made something you could sell! Instead of accused, often rightly, of stealing.

That’s all I’ve got, so now just click “report” to censor this away, “moderates”.

A Non-Mouse says:

Re: "create something unique using elements of existing works" ... That's not unique.

…may even have made something you could sell! Instead of accused, often rightly, of stealing.

You didn’t even read the first 3 sentences before spewing your incoherent drivel.

The artist who created the splotches released them for all to use freely, even for commercial use. The entire reason he posted them on DeviantArt was so that others could use them. But that’s a concept no Copyright Maximalist could ever understand.

…It’s not even difficult to create ORIGINAL graphics…

All art is derivative, there is no such thing as “original” art. Also a concept no Copyright Maximalist could ever understand.

Shill Boss says:

Re: "create something unique using elements of existing works" ... That's not unique.

If you don’t have anything relevant to say don’t say anything at all.

Also, another rule that should be added to the job requirements is that you should read the article (the entire article or at least past the first three sentences) before posting. Some of you guys don’t even seem to bother to read the first sentence. I know some of you have serious reading comprehension problems and all that crack you’ve done your entire lives causes you to get a headache whenever you try to read anything, and trust me I would have fired you a long long time ago if I could find a suitable replacement but the competition for becoming a shill is very low, but please please make some effort to read the article before posting. Even if you don’t understand it because you’re so brain dead from all those illegal drugs you’re always doing but please at least try. You make our shilling organization look bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Only FIFTEEN MINUTES TO CENSOR! You're hot on that, kids, only thing you can do.

@ “You didn’t even read the first 3 sentences before spewing your incoherent drivel.”

And @ “They had permission to copy: a free license from the creator. “Fair use” is irrelevant to the discussion, as is creating from scratch.”

1) “fair use” is in second sentence of the block quote; it’s YOU who didn’t read all.

2) I disclaimed defending Getty, and did not at all assert this was not fair use.

3) “copyright maximalism” is the phrase Masnick used, on which I take off to state a degree of “minimalism” that isn’t legal.

And going on attempt #6 to comment again! Knew the prior ease wouldn’t last.

Anonymous Coward says:

@ "All art is derivative, there is no such thing as "original" art. Also a concept no Copyright Maximalist could ever understand."

So? I wrote “ORIGINAL graphics”. Accuracy is not important Copyright Minimalists: little details like who paid for and worked are irrelevant, all they care about is getting the goods for free.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: out_of_the_blue sez: "Accuracy is not important"

That’s where you lose.

The moment you think accuracy is optional is where you start thinking that suing people with massive collateral damage is perfectly acceptable.

The RIAA tried that for nearly a decade. Not only did it not work, even fewer people sympathize with copyright.

But please do continue shooting yourself in the foot.

Jim says:


You see, the problem isn’t just porn trolls, it how much longer, would being able to take,”the picture” of the eiffle tower be worth? Or the grand canyon be worth, even thou, these pictures are already done,from your vacation, and you would propose to put that on twitter, Facebook, or your blog? And get away without monitizing it… You cad, People like Getty, are not artists, they are hoarders of ideas, They buy your history, and want to minimize, change it. How much have we lost to their ilk.

John85851 (profile) says:

Shut down the troll companies

The first way to fix this mess is to shut down the troll companies and their automated takedown systems. There are way too many examples of companies sending out takedown notices to see what will stick, whether it’s correct or not.
You know, like how a troll company for HBO sent a takedown notice to HBO.com for streaming “Game of Thrones”.

Or how about stronger punishments for false claims? I hope 2600 sues Getty for this shakedown.

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