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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:
If you can't read it, it says:
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.

Sincerely,
~R
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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Baron von Robber, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    Bye, Randy. Give our regards to the Earth's core.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    "almost exactly what fair use was designed for"

    I agree, except I'd remove the "almost".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Manabi (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:17pm

    Re:

    It's so nice of Randy to volunteer to be this week's entertainment on the Internet. Sure hope he wears flame-proof underwear.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:18pm

    Randy,
    We acknowledge you email of 11:14 8/4/2014. For our response, we must refer you to the response in the matter of Arkell v. Presdram.

    Yours
    Escher Girls

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    radarmonkey (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:25pm

    The Next Letter

    "If you don't stop making fun of me, I'm calling the Internet Police on you! They'll tell you you have to play nice, and stuff!

    Sincerely Butthurt,
    ~R"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:26pm

    This seems to follow an increasingly familiar and all too depressing pattern. The next step will be to to lash out at those discussing the discussion. Techdirt should expect an angry letter within 6 to 36 hours.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    CSMcDonald (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:26pm

    Well...

    He's certainly guaranteed I won't buy anything he's involved with....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:28pm

    Nah I totally didn't point Ami to Popehat...
    (yes I sometimes fib)
    I have a feeling he'd enjoy sending this blowhard a lovely snort my taint missive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Boojum (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:28pm

    Is it sort of wrong for me to hope that he also calls and threatens TechDirt for this article? Because I know Techdirt won't back down and it would be fun to see how far the cartoonist tries to take it.
    Boojum

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:29pm

    I called it

    The URLs are enough an indictment of Queen's "art." No wonder he's upset.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    icon
    sorrykb (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:33pm

    Alternate Reality Version

    [How this could have ended, before he went full Streisand]

    Dear Escher Girls,

    Someone sent me a link to your Tumblr (great stuff there!) that included some images from my early work. Looking back at that time, sometimes I cringe a bit, but please understand this was 18 years ago and I was a young artist with a lot to learn.

    My work has evolved considerably since then, and I invite you to have a look at some more recent comics at [here's my website - feel free to promote it].

    Thanks!

    All the best,
    Randy Queen

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:36pm

    Streisand Effect event in...

    ...three, two, one..............surprise!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Few people like being criticized. Fortunately, unlike Randy Queen, the overwhelming majority do not turn into big blubbering vaginas when criticized.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Streisand Effect event in...

    Maybe someone could start a catalog of these with a numbering system that reflects industry and sector information with a beginning algorithm to calculate a 'dead stupid' vs 'sheltered life' factor.

    What did I miss?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    I feel an internet education is coming for Mr. Queen. It's not likely to be very flattering when it arrives.

    Sometimes the smartest thing to do is knowing when to ignore critizm. It's learning when to ignore it that really butthurts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:48pm

    Mobius Loop of Insanity?

    Your use of my words and writings to point out the illegality of my actions and deeds amount to illegality of your words and writings regardless of how silly my words, writings, actions, deeds and lack of reasoning may be!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    connermac725 (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:48pm

    Clueless user of the week goes to

    Randy Queen "tada"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    Did you really just say that?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:51pm

    The great Zambini

    Hey Queen....what am I THINKING of the perception of your work right now! What, can't read my mind? --- mind blown

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    Re: Alternate Reality Version

    precisely...
    i guess classy is as classy does, where does that leave the queen of darkchylde ? ? ?
    does sound like *quite* the thin-skinned, self-important douche...
    oh, *please* escher girls, post that too ! ! !

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Kevin Carson, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    Randy Queen defames own character

    I doubt anybody else's actions could possibly be as "defamatory" to what Randy Queen loosely refers to as his "character" than what Queen is doing himself. He's revealing himself to be a thin-skinned bully engaged in what used to be called "vexatious abuse of process" (basically a SLAPP lawsuit) to censor criticism of his work, and he thinks he can get away with it because he's got deep pockets.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Queen, he is pig-ass stupid as well as small-minded, mean and petty. He's about to be taken to school on what the Streisand Effect means, and when it's finally over his "character" is gonna be defamed about four orders of magnitude more than it would've been had he had the sense to leave Escher Girls alone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 1:56pm

    Were I to go deep-sea diving, I'd probably take instruction.

    Were I to give a lecture on bees, I'd probably read or book or two.

    Were I to threaten someone with legal action, I'll just go in full retard.

    Because that's how it's done, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:06pm

    Re: Alternate Reality Version

    [How this could have ended, before he went full Streisand]

    Agree, that is exactly how this should have ended. But I am afraid he is already well on his way to a Carreon. Streisand just got upset when someone posted pictures of her house online. She didn't threaten to sue for defamation when they wrote about her threat.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    J.R., Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    silly is as silly does

    from Wiktionary:
    twit: ... 2. a foolish or annoying person...

    Ridiculous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:12pm

    The Streisand Scale

    HEY, lets develop a "STREISAND" scale....like the richtor scale but for dumb-assery related to internet repuation! I'd say Streisand at the "1" end and Carrion at the "INFINITY" end and we can use others to mark the in-between points!


    Streisand | | |Queen?| |Carreon

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:14pm

    Do you want to get sued? Because that's how you get sued.

    /MalloryArcher

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Alternate Reality Version

    That runs smack into the problem that what appears to be his website is noticeably outdated.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Phoenix84 (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:36pm

    comics which you can mkae your own personal sacrifices to bring to the world


    So you didn't copy-paste or do OCR, but manually retyped it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    jdc (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 2:56pm

    Re: The Streisand Scale

    Not sure about the INFINITY mark. After all, Carrion did finally stop his lawsuits. Also dealing with INFINITY is rather ... difficult. After half of INFINITY is still INFINITY.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Kevin Carson, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 3:01pm

    Hey, Mike -- if you want to contact Queen for comment, here's his email address: deepestblue432@aol.com Let's hope for his sake he's better at shopping for legal advice than he was at choosing his AOL email hosting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 3:05pm

    sounds like randy queen needs to send a right to be forgotten for those links.
    wait, does that work in america yet?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Kevin Carson, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 3:18pm

    Queen's gone off the Streisand Scale

    Queen has gone into full Streisand meltdown mode, now trying to stop anybody from reblogging the Escher Girls posts of his DMCA takedown notice and legal threat.

    Apparently he thought he could skulk around under cover of darkness like some kind of filthy diseased rat and have the posts quietly taken down without anybody noticing, and now that he's been surprised by the Streisand Effect biting his sorry ass he's foaming at the mouth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 3:27pm

    "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..." The whole point of criticism, be it good or bad, is to build a body of work that shows the overall growth of the author/artist and his works over the years and if Princess Precious, I mean Prince Precious, doesn't like it then tough luck.

    Oh yea, (too me at least) he's a Todd McFarlane clone so that guarantees I won't be purchasing any of his comics.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Kronomex, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Comment 33 is mine, I just forgot to add my moniker. Can I go home now?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:22pm

    Re: Queen's gone off the Streisand Scale

    if only there was something in the DMCA that would actually punish people who misuse it...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:27pm

    What a randy queen to do?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Kevin Carson, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 4:50pm

    Re: The Next Letter

    ...and the consequences will never be the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Whatever, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 5:49pm

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Kevin Carson, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 6:10pm

    Re:

    You mean the part that secretly repealed the Fair Use doctrine? Or the part that says informing your readers of DMCA takedowns being used to censor criticism is "defamation of character"?

    I wonder if you'll just hate it when the penalties for abuse of DMCA takedowns are enforced.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 11:22pm

    Re: Alternate Reality Version

    Someone should hire this person to do all PR related things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    bee, Aug 4th, 2014 @ 11:28pm

    The only person hurting Randy Queen's reputation is Randy Queen. Does he even know what defamation means? It doesn't mean "saying true stuff about me that I don't want you to."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:40am

    Re:

    Hey, be fair he might just have signed up in 1995 like a lot of the rest of us and just not bothered updating since we all worked out how bad AOL was. The real question is why he apparently had so little imagination that he came up with a login already chosen by 431 other users when he signed up.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:41am

    Re:

    Whatever just hates it when copyright abuse is exposed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    NelC, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 12:50am

    I perceive that Queen is a berk.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Dennis Sweatt, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 1:07am

    Dude

    You put yourself out there for sale as an artist which means critics get free shots. Period.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Dan T., Aug 5th, 2014 @ 3:57am

    AOL

    Some of us knew AOL sucked, and had no logical reason for existing, back in 1995 too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    Caught logged out again, jackass?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    You say that like it's a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Kristen, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 5:50am

    Re:

    Could you please not use this as an opportunity to slam women? A vagina is not a bad thing, so claiming that someone is like one should not be an insult. A vagina isn't weak or stupid or something to be made fun of. And neither are women.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 8:11am

    Re:

    Vaginas are tough, man. They take one hell of a pounding. To illustrate delicacy, I suggest testicles.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 9:28am

    OMG, some guy doesn't understand DMCA takedown notices. Good thing there's no subjective bad faith, or else it might actually matter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    It looks like subjective bad faith to me. The initial DMCA filing might has been an honest mistake, but doubling down multiple times after having the mistake explained is just being an asshole.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Matthew (profile), Aug 5th, 2014 @ 11:18am

    The only thing worse...

    They took the art down and didn't badmouth a jackass that seems to sorely need a clue-by-four upside the head. smdh

    The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 6:36pm

    Don't be cruel.

    Why is everyone ganging up on this one individual's request?

    Randy is his own artist, struggling like most of us, trying to succeed in his art form. If he feels threaten it must be for good reason. We shouldn't be so cruel.

    Respect his decision and move on. How is his decision hurting you? No need to be spiteful.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 8:32pm

    Randy Queen has come out of the Idiot Closet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 9:56pm

    Re: Don't be cruel.

    Randy, is that you? Or your mom?

    Randy is a malicious jerk who deserves to be humiliated for his cynical bullying - not "respected" for making a TERRIBLE decision!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    Mike Kerr, Aug 5th, 2014 @ 10:02pm

    Re: Don't be cruel.

    Becasue the law that protects the idiots IPalsodirecly allows the "Fair Use" of that IP. He vilatd the very law that he was trying to use. And iun the second DCMA request very likely committed the criminal act of Perjury, since he demaded the take-down of the BLOGGERs IP

    Feeling threatened(That would take national problems to do in this case, is not a excuse to break the law and threaten people as he has.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    identicon
    Agonistes, Aug 6th, 2014 @ 1:26am

    I can't be the only one who sees this guy's rendering of hypersexual sultry goth chicks and does a Futurama Fryface seeing a moniker like "Randy Queen"...am I? Or maybe its obvious enough that I'm getting the same face back at me for stating such obvious..ness. Either way, lol.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  59.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 8:35am

    Re: Don't be cruel.

    "Why is everyone ganging up on this one individual's request?"

    Because he went legal when that was the most inappropriate response possible, then doubled down on it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    icon
    Gwiz (profile), Aug 6th, 2014 @ 9:46am

    Re: Don't be cruel.

    Why is everyone ganging up on this one individual's request?

    Because he is attempting to stifle speech using copyright law. Why did he only request that uses of his work that show them in an unfavorable way be taken down?



    Randy is his own artist, struggling like most of us, trying to succeed in his art form.

    Cool beans. There is absolutely no problem with that statement, except that it is irrelevant to this discussion.



    If he feels threaten it must be for good reason.

    Sorry, feeling threatened does not suddenly give you more rights then those that already exist.



    We shouldn't be so cruel.

    Who is being cruel? Pointing out that Randy took the worst possible route and then him doubling-down on it made him look like an idiot isn't being cruel, it's a truthful opinion.



    Respect his decision and move on. How is his decision hurting you? No need to be spiteful.

    His decision undermines Fair Use and that affects everyone. If you took a little time to understand Fair Use you would know how important it is, even to artists. Without Fair Use copyright would run afoul of the First Amendment and copyright couldn't exist in the United States at all. It's not spite driving the critics of these actions, it's common sense. Though I do wonder what drove him to issue the DMCA notices in the first place, because that appears spiteful to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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