Sony Pictures, Defenders Of The Creative Industry, Appears To Be Using Fan Art Without Giving Credit
from the that's-theft,-right? dept
It will come as no surprise that we have done many, many posts at Techdirt that involve Sony. While not all of those posts are critical of the company, many of those posts deal with Sony wielding IP law about while claiming it is doing so to “protect creators” of content. We’ve also discussed instances where some of these IP-wielding companies, that are supposedly the vanguards of the creative community, also have managed to use the art created by their own fans without bothering to credit them. To be clear, that likely doesn’t run afoul of copyright law, given that the fan art typically uses IP owned by these companies. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s both quite hypocritical to not bother even crediting the fan that created the art, as well as being just plain shitty.
So back to Sony: the company appears to be both quite hypocritical and just plain shitty to one fan that seems to have found his fan art used on a movie poster for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Reddit user RealJohnGillman posted to r/Spiderman and several other Venom and movie-related subreddits a day after the poster’s release, claiming the poster art was “traced from fanart.” The fan art in question, posted to DeviantArt in October 2018, depicts Michelle Williams’ She-Venom, who appeared briefly in Venom. The character poster teases Williams’ return in the sequel. The Reddit post shows a zoomed-in version of the poster next to the fan art to emphasize the similarity. The poster art appears to be a silhouetted version of the fan art; however, some areas, like the curve of the shoulders, don’t completely match up.
You can see the images in question below, including a zoomed in image of the part of the poster in question. Poster on the left, fan art on the right.
You can say the images don’t match up precisely if you like, but they’re certainly very damned close. As mentioned about similar past cases, this likely isn’t a copyright infringement issue; the fan artist doesn’t own any rights to the character he drew. But, again, if the copyright industries are going to do their maximalist routine under the guise of protecting those that create content, well, fan art is content. And if we stipulate that copyright isn’t at issue here, we should certainly be able to agree that Sony or its sub-contracted marketers could at least have given the original artist credit if they were going to use his art, no?
Commenters on the post were quick to discuss the possible copyright-related consequences of the alleged theft. “Whelp, someone is getting an unexpected paycheck,” one user wrote, while another replied, “Um… no. You have no ownership over an image you create using a licensed character you don’t own; it’s unethical to use it without compensation, I’ll agree, but they own the character.”
It’s hard to imagine any argument that any of this is ethical on the part of Sony. Protector of creators though it claims to be, it seems the company is also happy to just use art created by others if it suits them.