The Cartoonist Has No Idea How Fair Use Works

from the wanna-try-that-again? dept

On Friday, we had a post about some political comic strips that were posted to the Tumblr blog A Good Cartoon. Whoever is behind that blog (on the blog the name used is "rorus raz," and the post asks people to credit rorus raz, but on Twitter it's "Alan Smithee" which is a popular pseudonym) first posted a bunch of political cartoons by syndicated political cartoonists that demonstrated a near total lack of understanding about net neutrality, and then posted a followup post that took many of those political cartoons and replaced the bubble text with the simple statement "the cartoonist has no idea how net neutrality works." Well-known TV, book, podcast and internet personality John Hodgman then reblogged it on his site.

I first saw it on Hodgman's site and set it aside to write about it. When I got around to it late on Friday afternoon, I noticed, oddly, that the original on A Good Cartoon was now gone. There was no note or anything. It was just gone. However, Hodgman's version was still up, so I wrote about it and posted some (but not all) of the comics and added some additional commentary.

Over the weekend, however, the version on Hodgman's site also disappeared, and Twitter user Michael at BU alerted me to the news that over at A Good Cartoon a DMCA takedown notice had been posted. It appears that the copyright holder representing the cartoonist Chip Bok sent Tumblr a takedown. What's posted to the blog is what Tumblr sent to A Good Cartoon, and not the original takedown notice -- so it's not clear if it was sent via Bok himself or Creators Syndicate, which syndicates Bok's strips. Bizarrely, the notice that's posted to A Good Cartoon is not text and not a single image, but rather each word is a separate image. I have no idea why, but here's the transcribed note:
Hi,

We've received a notification of alleged copyright infringement on one of your blogs. Here are the details of the content in question:

Copyright holder: Katie Ransom

Post URL(s): http://agoodcartoon.tumblr.com/post/112519623990/the-cartoonist-has-no-idea-how-net-neutrality

Description: The work is a copyrighted cartoon by artist Chip Bok. The caption of the cartoon was altered, but the copyright and signature remain, making it look like this work is by the artist, when it is not. You can find an original copy of the cartoon here: http://www.creators.com/editorialcartoons/chip-bok/31500.html

The content has since been removed, in accordance with U.S. law and Tumblr's own copyright policies.

It's important for all creators that our users respect copyright, and so we ask that you take greater care when posting other people's creations to your Tumblr blog. You can review Tumblr's Terms of Service (https://www.tumblr.com/policy/terms-of-service) and Community Guidelines (https://www.tumblr.com/policy/community) for more information on our copyright policies.

At Tumblr, we implement a strict three-strike policy against copyright infringers. The notice we received counts as one strike against your account. If you receive three uncontested strikes within 18 months, your account will be terminated. You can contest this notification by following the instructions for a DMCA Counter-Notification found here: https://www.tumblr.com/policy/terms-of-service#dmca. A successful counter-notification will remove the strike against your account.

Please note that if your account is terminated for repeat copyright infringement, any new accounts you create will also be terminated.

This is a good opportunity to learn more about U.S. copyright law (never a bad idea) and to make sure that none of your other posts are infringing on someone's copyright. Here are a few free resources you might want to look over:
http://fairuse.stanford.edu/internet-resources/
http://www.teachingcopyright.org/
http://copyright.gov/

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Best,
Tumblr Trust & Safety
It would appear that the cartoonist has no idea how fair use works (and the same may be true of Tumblr's "Trust & Safety" staff). Yes, fair use is often a judgment call, but it's difficult to see how this is not classic fair use. It was transformed (as the Tumblr letter even admits), and the transformation was done for the purpose of commentary and criticism of the original -- classic parody, which the courts have recognized as quintessential fair use. Finally, it was not done for commercial reasons and the impact on the market for the original is clearly none (other than the fact that it might make Chip Bok look foolish -- but the courts have been clear that it needs to be the copying, not the commentary that harms the market, and that's clearly not the case here -- i.e., the question is whether or not the copied work might substitute for the original in the market). To better understand this, we'll post both versions here (which again is fair use, should Bok or his syndicate suddenly wish to try to play this stupid game on us as well). Here's the original:
The line in the bubble doesn't make any sense at all in the context of net neutrality, nor does the message on the TV itself. As we stated in our post on Friday, we already know that the big broadband providers have been the ones who have been deliberately slowing down access to Netflix, resulting in images like the following appearing on people's screens without net neutrality:
And, of course, once Netflix agreed to pay up, suddenly the big ISPs magically figured out how to plug in a few more connections and the speeds went back up:
Part of the point of the FCC's new rules is to prevent this sort of gaming by the big broadband players so that you won't have to see any delay messages at all when downloading a film. So, given all that, it's rather easy to conclude that Chip Bok has no idea how net neutrality works. And, given that, a fairly good way to parody Bok's ignorance is to post the following cartoon:
A Good Cartoon's response to the DMCA takedown is to note, "i'm astonished that chip bok believes people could confuse something he made with something that's actually funny and intelligent." Of course, being embarrassed about a parody does not make it infringing. It's still fair use. So, the most likely conclusion is that Chip Bok (and/or his syndicate) has no idea how fair use works.

Update: Over at his own site Bok is insisting this is not fair use and tossing out all sorts of nonsense about how he's older than everyone and thus understands these things better:
Really, you people should stop hacking my cartoons to make a point. It’s not “fair use”. It’s illegal. Think the FCC will help me out here? You’re destroying my intellectual property and inserting your own stupid message. Are you Chinese? Come up with something on your own.
This is especially funny since Bok's own site is called "Bokbluster" a clear play on the name of "Blockbuster." And, of course, that's a perfectly legitimate way to make use of something someone else created. But, Bok is so hypocritical that apparently he thinks that only he is allowed to build on another's work. Even worse, it appears he's racist, calling someone "Chinese" for criticizing him. That's incredible. And, on the copyright question, Bok is wrong. It is absolutely fair use, as described above. And his "intellectual property" is not being "destroyed" just because someone created a parody. That's not how it works. At all. His further comments show a complete lack of understanding about net neutrality as well. He mis-states the law in question, he mis-states what the FCC has done. Someone really ought to take him aside as suggest he just stop digging.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 10:53am

    And, at least in this instance, The Cartoonist Has No Idea How Funny Works.

    That being said:
    The Tumblr Has a Pretty Good Idea How Copyright Lawyers Leave Slime Trails

    The DMCA Process Is A Toothless And Syphilis-Raddled Junkie Rooting In The Garbage Cans Of Fair Use

    Comcast Is The Devil's Eviler Brother

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

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 9 Mar 2015 @ 11:02am

    So Tumblr has take the YouTube approach (c.q. the easy way out) and disregards Fair Use completely...
    I knew there was a good reason to not be on either.

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

  • icon
    jameshogg (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 11:17am

    Jesus Christ. My ability to use Microsoft Paint to edit the original cartoon by putting a new text box over the speech bubble has been TOTALLY cracked down on as a result of this DMCA.

    See people? Copyright enforcement WORKS!

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

  • icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 11:37am

    Updated

    Added a little update after discovering Bok's own comments on his blog, where he lashes out at commenters who questioned his knowledge and insists that these parodies are "destroying" his intellectual property.

    The Cartoonist has no idea how many things work, apparently.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 11:46am

    Break out your popcorn! This could get good.

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

  • icon
    Miles Barnett (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 11:47am

    It's not Fair

    It's not Fair to Use an author's own work as a weapon to hurt the author's fee-fees.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:00pm

    No incentives to do so

    It's still fair use. So, the most likely conclusion is that Chip Bok (and/or his syndicate) has no idea how fair use works.

    Demanding someone take something down, even if it might be clearly fair use, has no legal negative consequences 99% of the time.

    Refusing to take something down, believing that it's fair use, opens you up to a lawsuit, and hefty legal costs, and even if your use is rules to be fair use, it is still incredibly expensive to fight the matter, with no chance of recouping spent costs.

    The law is incredibly one-sided, so of course most companies and individuals have no idea what constitutes fair use, or even care to learn, because they have no reason to.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:06pm

      Re: No incentives to do so

      Actually they do have to consider fair use before issuing a take down. This is established case law. Failure to do so could ostensibly open up to 512(f)

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:17pm

        Re: Re: No incentives to do so

        Oh, they consider fair use...

        They consider it to be an unimportant detail that they don't need to be bothered with since there there effectively are no incentives to do so and no real consequences for not doing so - which was his point entirely.

        The threat of opening up to 512(f) is milder that the threat of being subjected to a French taunting a second time.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:19pm

        Re: Re: No incentives to do so

        Find me a case where someone was given anything more than a light slap on the wrist for not doing so, because as far as I know there hasn't been one.

        'Consider' doesn't mean that they have to accept that it exists, all they have to do is say 'Yes we considered it, and decided fair use didn't apply', and they're good, no matter how clearly something would fall under fair use.

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

        • icon
          Blackfiredragon13 (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 5:07pm

          Re: Re: Re: No incentives to do so

          I remember a post somewhere on here about a defamation(I think case against someone and the plaintiff had to pay for defendant's legal costs at the end.
          Just remembered something else about case just before posting, was a patent case, guy pledged $1 million to go to in fighting it, based purely on principle.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 6:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: No incentives to do so

            They had pay for defendant's legal costs

            Oh Noes!
            The horror!
            What a crippling and discriminatory verdict, how dare that court do such a thing.

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

      • icon
        JMT (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 4:30pm

        Re: Re: No incentives to do so

        "Actually they do have to consider fair use before issuing a take down."

        They just have to consider fair use, not make a correct assessment of whether it actually is fair use.

        "Is this fair use? Nope! Job done."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:04pm

    Destroying his work...

    See the only way that could happen is if someone hacked his page, hacked his computer and hacked the rest of the internet in order to destroy ALL the originals and backups while posting this as the real thing...
    And this guy who uses a drawing style that is so bland that there is probably 2000 artists on the internet that you wouldn't be able to separate from his, an agenda he seemingly took directly from big broadband and a mood he copied from an angry pitbull with a sore tooth, should not state that people can't come up with anything on their own.

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  • identicon
    Regret, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:15pm

    No idea

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

  • identicon
    PRMan, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:17pm

    Not to defend Chip Bok...

    Not to defend Chip Bok... but I believe the racist "Chinese" reference is to the large amount of copyright infringement that has happened in China in the past...

    They are copying his cartoons, so they must be Chinese...

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Not to defend Chip Bok...

      He's obviously a regurgitator of right-wing talking points so the threat "Chinese are hacking us and stealing our stuff" is an expected play from his playbook.

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

    • identicon
      sig, 10 Mar 2015 @ 11:23am

      Re: Not to defend Chip Bok...

      Lol, I saw that, too.

      Maybe we should make a comic that says "Blogger doesn't understand how racism works"?

      Or would the irony take things full circle and cause some sort if internet implosion?

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

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 1:26pm

      Re: Not to defend Chip Bok...

      The irony in this is that, historically, the United States has been one of the biggest violators of intellectual property rights in the world. Throughout most of the 19th century foreign patents and copyrights were simply ignored. Much of our technology and industry was based on British and German intellectual property that was nowhere near authorized.

      The Chinese did (and are still doing) the same thing, but now that it's our IP being taken, we get all upset about it. It's like watching a kid cry about how the toy he stole from his sister was taken by bullies.

      Boo hoo.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2015 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: Not to defend Chip Bok...

        Perhaps you should consider that patents and copyrights are national in scope. A patent from the UK, for example, is of no force and effect within the U.S. (and vice versa).

        WRT to China, what are largely being ignored are patents issued within China to foreign nationals. The converse is not true within the U.S.

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      • identicon
        observer, 10 Mar 2015 @ 4:47pm

        Re: Re: Not to defend Chip Bok...

        A while ago, I saw a notice from a 19th-century trans-Atlantic steamer warning passengers not to take American prints of European books ashore because they'd be confiscated by customs.

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

  • icon
    Mark Gisleson (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:35pm

    Google image Chip Bok

    If you follow the news at all, you will be amazed how frequently his cartoons are based on his misunderstandings of actual news. Glenn McCoy is still the worst, but both rely on ridicule and mockery much more than anything vaguely construable as humor. Both love to "punch down."

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 1:02pm

      Re: Google image Chip Bok

      Not to derail things too much, but concern about "punching up" or "punching down" is often misleading.

      I don't know if I care as much about the targets of Chip Bok's opinions than about how well-informed those opinions are. Ignorant junk is ignorant junk no matter what the subject, and we seem to have plenty of ignorant junk in this case.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Google image Chip Bok

      Also worth pointing out that Bok is fine with fair use when he's the one doing it. For instance, poorly drawn Disney characters or poorly drawn Peter Pan.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 6:09pm

      Re: Google image Chip Bok

      If by "misunderstanding" you mean intentional lies, then yeah.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 12:36pm

    The next question...

    Does the cartoonist know how the Streisand Effect works?

    I've got a strange feeling he doesn't but is about to find out.

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

  • identicon
    jackn, 9 Mar 2015 @ 1:00pm

    Chip bok has no ideas

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 1:30pm

      Re:

      I visited his website. He gives text descriptions of what each of his cartoons is about. If you have to explain your jokes...

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

  • identicon
    AJ Liberphile, 9 Mar 2015 @ 1:19pm

    Chinese

    An interesting article, but please leave out the calling people 'racist' thing. This term of abuse is really wearing thin now and makes us all yawn.

    In this context, 'Chinese' means 'having no concept of IP ownership'.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 1:34pm

    " Whoever is behind that blog (on the blog the name used is "rorus raz," and the post asks people to credit rorus raz, but on Twitter it's "Alan Smithee" which is a popular pseudonym"

    The original edits were posted by user Rorus Raz to the Something Awful Political Cartoons thread:

    http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3691509&pagenumber=269&perpa ge=40#post442165505

    (If you can't view the content without registering at the moment... that's unfortunate, but that too shall pass)

    Everything else is a repost.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 1:47pm

    you people should stop hacking my cartoons
    The cartoonist has no idea how photoshopping works.

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

  • identicon
    Mitch Berger, 9 Mar 2015 @ 2:17pm

    Chip Bok

    As a lawyer and as the consulting editor on NPR's Double Take Toons, while I disagree with Chip Bok's view of Net Neutrality, but I do support him on his understanding of fair use. His statement "come up with something on your own," is what resonates with me the most.

    Chip has the right to have the words he speaks and the images he draws to be presented as he intended them. In fact, he has an internationally recognized legal and moral right to protect the integrity of his work. Replacing his words with someone else's isn't just criticism, it supplants and therefore silences his speech. And because of the way the internet works, it is quite possible that some might mistake the parody of his work, as his work.

    If you want to parody his cartoons, then at least take as much time and skill as he did. Cutting and pasting your own words on top of his, is not clever or creative. It used to be done with crayons and lots of exclamation points - every cartoonist I know has stacks of them. One proudly exhibited a photo of a re-captioned cartoon done in excrement, which took at least some original output.

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    • icon
      jupiterkansas (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 2:36pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      Parody does not require creative effort to be parody, and the new captions are as much commentary as they are parody. This is about having the ability to criticize others using the same medium they are using to make their points. It's not about who is the most creative, or who worked the hardest.

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    • icon
      Keroberos (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 2:50pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      Chip has the right to have the words he speaks and the images he draws to be presented as he intended them.
      No, he does not, especially if he's going to lie about the facts that he's speaking and drawing about.
      In fact, he has an internationally recognized legal and moral right to protect the integrity of his work.
      Again... No, he does not. In the US this is legally protected fair use, and only a few countries recognize any moral right in their copyright law (the US is not one of them).
      If you want to parody his cartoons, then at least take as much time and skill as he did. Cutting and pasting your own words on top of his, is not clever or creative.
      Your opinion does not matter in this. It is protected fair use in the US with large quantities of case law confirming this.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 3:37pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      Perhaps you have TD confused with a Connecticut library.

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

    • icon
      JMT (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 4:33pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      "As a lawyer..."

      That's your take as a lawyer?! Yikes...

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      • icon
        art guerrilla (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 4:10am

        Re: Re: Chip Bok

        exactly...
        this guy is an 'expert' ? ? ?

        *AND* he is some kind of adviser to a (whatever else you might think of it, and i generally think of sat night live parodies) mainstream, prominent, major media outlet ? ? ?

        we are fucked...
        if orgs that have the resources and public profile to have competent legal advice are relying on the likes of this parasite, er, lawyer who espouses both wrongheaded 'legal advice', AND evinces an innate bias towards copy maximalism, what chance does your average joe have against such an onslaught of ignorance and FUD ? ? ?

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    • identicon
      cpt kangarooski, 9 Mar 2015 @ 7:17pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      Chip has the right to have the words he speaks and the images he draws to be presented as he intended them. In fact, he has an internationally recognized legal and moral right to protect the integrity of his work.

      He almost certainly does not have any moral rights in this situation, in the US, and even if he did, such rights would still be subject to fair use.

      Replacing his words with someone else's isn't just criticism, it supplants and therefore silences his speech.

      Not at all. The original cartoons are unaffected. He is speaking at least as much as he would have had no parodies of his cartoons been made at all.

      If you want to parody his cartoons, then at least take as much time and skill as he did. Cutting and pasting your own words on top of his, is not clever or creative.

      This is not obligatory of course. And to be honest, I find it to be a rather lame request. Am I unqualified to say that a movie is bad and to support my review with excerpts thanks to fair use, if I am nevertheless not as skilled a filmmaker as the person I'm criticizing? Of course not. Fair use doesn't have to be clever or creative. Parody doesn't have to be particularly funny or well executed. And copyright even protects bad artists. Subjective judgements based on artistic skill or merit have no place in the law.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 9:40am

        Re: Re: Chip Bok

        "Parody doesn't have to be particularly funny"

        In fact, while a lot of parody is intended to be humorous, being funny isn't even part of the definition of parody at all.

        Parody is when you are modify a work in order to comment on the work itself. The modified cartoons are clearly and unambiguously parody.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 9:00pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      It is easy to call what was done a parody, and thusly fair use. Problem here is that the substituted comment is mockingly directed at the original author, and not at the author's original expression.

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

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 8:02am

        Re: Re: Chip Bok

        But the mocking only makes sense in the context of the artists original expression - which is why the expression itself is part of the mocking.

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

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 9:44am

        Re: Re: Chip Bok

        In my view, the parody here clearly comments on the author's original expression. The original cartoons expressed a particular argument. The modifications express that the original argument indicates a deep level of not understanding the issue.

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

    • identicon
      monkoii, 10 Mar 2015 @ 3:12am

      Re: Chip Bok

      US Copyright Law, Section 107 would seem to disagree with your assessment of fair use.

      besides, the context of this redirection of his work is in the larger scope of the whole debate. the work done is not the graphical/textual overdub but is the background research (something Mr Bok quite clearly failed in) and the expression of intelligence behind the clean and simple subversion of the original meaning.

      not using the original image would defeat the point. the source of the parody was perhaps not a cartoonist. should that have stopped them from being able to skewer the aggressive misunderstanding of the original in an intelligent, topical and biting fashion?

      there is no denying Mr Bk's profile has no doubt been raised by all this. he's now a more famous twit than he was before. he should be happy.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2015 @ 7:34am

      Re: Chip Bok

      Please cite the portion of the relevant statutes on fair use that define the effort required to constitute fair use.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 9:36am

      Re: Chip Bok

      "Chip has the right to have the words he speaks and the images he draws to be presented as he intended them."

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that he does indeed get his words and pictures presented as he intended them, so this right is not being infringed.

      "Replacing his words with someone else's isn't just criticism, it supplants and therefore silences his speech."

      Really? So the creation of a parody work somehow causes the work that he originally produced and published to cease to exist? I had no idea that parody was quite that powerful.

      "Cutting and pasting your own words on top of his, is not clever or creative."

      You're stating a personal preference, and I'm not going to say that anyone's personal preference is incorrect. However, from a legal standpoint, neither cleverness nor creativity are required in order for a work to be parody.

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

    • icon
      JP Jones (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 12:20pm

      Re: Chip Bok

      As a lawyer and as the consulting editor on NPR's Double Take Toons, while I disagree with Chip Bok's view of Net Neutrality, but I do support him on his understanding of fair use.

      You must be a terrible lawyer.

      Chip has the right to have the words he speaks and the images he draws to be presented as he intended them.

      Nope. If I buy a painting, and then draw beards on all the women and put it upside down on my wall, I am not using or presenting it as the artist intended...and there isn't a shred of legal protection that prevents me from doing so.

      In fact, he has an internationally recognized legal and moral right to protect the integrity of his work.

      Nope. Copyright is not a moral right, and there is no right protecting the integrity of a work. He only has the right to be the sole distributor of his original work and derivatives thereof, if the derivatives are not covered under fair use. He has zero rights to this clear parody.

      Replacing his words with someone else's isn't just criticism, it supplants and therefore silences his speech.

      Not even close. His original work is still available and we can all laugh at his ignorance together. Honestly, if it did somehow silence his speech, it would probably be better...at least he wouldn't have his idiocy broadcasted for the world to see. Alas, his speech is still available, and we can all ridicule it to our heart's content.

      And because of the way the internet works, it is quite possible that some might mistake the parody of his work, as his work.

      Someone would mistake "The cartoonist has no idea how net neutrality works" as his own work? I'm sure people make cartoons that refer to themselves in third person and insult themselves, while not commenting on the actual image shown, all the time.

      Nothing you mentioned is covered by law, and would not even be entertained by a court, let alone successfully prosecuted. If you're his lawyer and/or consultant no wonder he has no idea how copyright law works.

      Please, go for your lawsuit, let as all know how it works out. We need some more laughs around here!

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    • icon
      Sheogorath (profile), 14 Mar 2015 @ 1:06am

      Re: Chip Bok

      Mike, can you please explain to this idiot in words of two syllables or fewer how the language of the Copyright Act excludes works-for-hire from the definition of "works of visual art," thereby excluding such works from VARA protection?
      The cartoonist's lawyer has no idea how moral rights work.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 2:22pm

    Definition

    Fair Use: What ever use the creator decides is 'fair', which is subject to change without notice.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2015 @ 2:58pm

    "Really, you people should stop hacking my cartoons to make a point. It’s not “fair use”. It’s illegal. Think the FCC will help me out here? You’re destroying my intellectual property and inserting your own stupid message. Are you Chinese? Come up with something on your own."


    After reading this, I'm convinced net neutrality and fair use aren't the only things the artist doesn't understand.

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

  • identicon
    Zonker, 9 Mar 2015 @ 4:03pm

    Bizarrely, the notice that's posted to A Good Cartoon is not text and not a single image, but rather each word is a separate image.
    Isn't that how ransom notes are usually made? By cut and pasting individual words or letters onto a piece of paper to spell out your demands in some misguided attempt at remaining anonymous?

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 8:57pm

    Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

    If I were to make such a change to a cartoon, I would expect to run afoul of copyright. There's simply not enough transformation in this work, especially since the "parody" is buried within the larger artwork.

    So my position is that this was theft of artwork to support an almost invisible parody; and that's not enough to avoid infringement.

    It would have been quite easy to transform it sufficiently. The simplest concept that occurred to me was showing a TV on the wall containing the comic to be parodied, and having a different pair of watchers comment on the cartoon on the TV. That would have been as effective and, I think, would have avoided any copyright conflict.

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

    • icon
      Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 9 Mar 2015 @ 9:36pm

      Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

      You might be closing one eye and squinting with the other, but anyone who's actually looking can easily see the commentary. It's quite clearly stating that the original comic is wrong and ignorant. (And to others) Just because it's calling the comic writer wrong and ignorant as well doesn't lessen the message against the comic itself.

      Commentary is covered under fair use and does not require any transformation of the original work.

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

    • icon
      monkoii (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 3:23am

      Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

      "It would have been quite easy to transform it sufficiently. The simplest concept that occurred to me.."

      there's something in that; I was thinking the same. but what if the subverter is not a cartoonish/artist and could not do this sufficiently well as to be acceptable?

      the graphical transformation of the images is not the work. the ability and will to transform the originals in the context of the debate is what is being done. the originals were presented as a "wtf?" and the lampooning images appeared pretty much alongside; that's the work/transformation.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 8:20am

      Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

      The parody is clear and obvious to me. Why do you think it's not parody?

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

      • icon
        Coyne Tibbets (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 9:11pm

        Re: Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

        The parody is clear to me, but not so obvious--I had to look twice to see that it was actually a different comic. It is a small part, perhaps 5% of the overall work.

        Imagine I took the original comic and changed one pixel to black, then claimed all the other pixels were mine. Should that be considered "transformation"? If I change one word of a 10,000 word book in "parody", shall I then be able to call the rest of the 9,999 words mine?

        It's not a matter of whether transformation or parody occurred, but how much as a proportion of the work. If I were the judge in this case, I would rule it was not enough; therefore that infringement occurred.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 10:15pm

          Re: Re: Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

          The visual change to the works may be minor, simply switching out the words being said, but the change of what is being said is pretty big I'd say, going from ignorant or misguided attacks against something, to pointing out that the original artist has no idea what he's talking about.

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

          • icon
            GEMont (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 3:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

            Without the captions, there is no message in either the originals or the remakes.

            The captions thus represents a far greater portion of the works than do the actual cartoon images, and in fact, in both cases - before and after - defines and explains the images.

            Without the captions, the images have no meanings at all.

            No infringement was perpetrated here.

            One version says:
            "FCC is bad! Will hurt you. Beware!"

            The other says:
            "Artist is a moron. Ignore his message."

            The change in the caption alters the entire meaning of the image, almost diametrically.

            That is transformational enough to be parody and commentary and thus is fair use.

            In my opinion anyways. :)

            ---

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

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 8:22am

          Re: Re: Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

          "Imagine I took the original comic and changed one pixel to black, then claimed all the other pixels were mine. Should that be considered "transformation"?"

          Of course not, and nobody would. But I don't see how this question relates to the subject at hand. We aren't talking about whether the use was "transformative" (although it is), but whether it is parody.

          That said, there is no objective amount of change required to count as a "transformative". It might be possible to contrive of an example where changing a single pixel would count, but it seems unlikely.

          "If I change one word of a 10,000 word book in "parody", shall I then be able to call the rest of the 9,999 words mine?"

          Again, while it's hard to come up with how this could possibly happen, if you do manage to actually develop a parody of a 10,000 word work by changing a single word, then I'd answer yes. Remember, a work isn't parody just because the author says it is. "Parody" has a specific meaning.

          "It's not a matter of whether transformation or parody occurred, but how much as a proportion of the work."

          The law doesn't agree with this. While the amount of change can (and often is) part of the consideration of the parody or transformative status of the derivative work, it's a relatively small consideration. There is no "minimum change" requirement.

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

        • icon
          JP Jones (profile), 13 Mar 2015 @ 12:37pm

          Re: Re: Re: Transformation? Not. Parody? Insufficient.

          TV shows like the Daily Show, Colbert Report, and Last Week Tonight often take clips and images directly from news organizations with little to no modification. There's no permission needed because they are commenting on the work. Sometimes they play a clip directly with no commentary, although it's obvious to the viewers that commentary is happening (usually because the clip highlights something really stupid).

          This is all protected under fair use and parody. And it's vitally important that this right is protected, as being unable to comment on the speech of others (in whatever form that speech takes) not only violates the First Amendment but is a sign of living in a oppressed state.

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 8:56am

    Dear Tumblr Trust & Safety,
    It's important for all creators that others respect copyright laws, and so I ask that you take greater care when passing on Cease and Desist notices over perfectly legal and non-infringing fair uses of copyrighted content.
    Yours, a supporter of roruz ras.

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

  • identicon
    Jim Notbok, 10 Mar 2015 @ 11:39am

    ahem

    Bok's statement about the Chinese is not racist. I wish he'd said: "Are you Russian?" - as it implies the same thing.

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

  • identicon
    runbei, 10 Mar 2015 @ 11:41am

    Fair use? Piffle

    "Fair use," from the article and comments, would seem to mean "free beer."

    If you make it, you're morally obligated to share it for free.

    If that's what's meant, it's complete bilge. Creators of art have a right to be fairly reimbursed for the use of their creations - exactly as house builders have a lawful and moral right to be paid for their work. "You built it. It's there. I can use it." It's an infantile argument.

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

    • icon
      J_D (profile), 10 Mar 2015 @ 11:55am

      Re: Fair use? Piffle

      You misconstrue what it means to "use" art. Creators have a right to be reimbursed for the use of their art as art. Using a house someone else built would be akin to printing out his cartoon, hanging it in a museum, and asking people to pay me to see it. This would be wrong.

      If you build a shitty house, however, I have every right to criticize it, using pictures, diagrams, or any other representations of the house to make my point. That is what parody is. It isn't "using" the actual art for its original intended purpose, it is using the art as a representation of itself to comment upon it.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2015 @ 9:13pm

      Re: Fair use? Piffle

      Were you just trying to cram as many terrible arguments into as few sentences as possible?

      If so, you succeeded.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 8:23am

      Re: Fair use? Piffle

      "If that's what's meant, it's complete bilge"

      True. It's a good thing that's not what is meant.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2015 @ 12:42pm

    The cartoonist apparently learned about the Internet from Ted Stevens.

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 11 Mar 2015 @ 2:40pm

    Mike's statement: Even worse, it appears he's racist, calling someone "Chinese" for criticizing him.
    Bok's rant: Are you Chinese? Come up with something on your own.
    Personally, I don't believe what Bok said was racist, I think it's based on the fact that China has a reputation for producing the most counterfeit goods in the world. I formed this opinion after carefully reading the above line from the rant in context.

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


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