In the past, we've written a few times about various fun online attempts to take classic comic strips and remix them into something else. Probably the most famous is Garfield Minus Garfield
(which is just what it sounds like). What amazed us about that story was that, not only did Garfield author Jim Davis not freak out
about it (he actually loved it), he and his publisher agreed to publish a book
of those strips.
Unfortunately, other comic remixers haven't had the same sort of luck. "Real Calvin and Hobbes" (taking panels from the strip and putting them in "real photographs") was shut down by publisher Andrews McMeel Universal. And, Iconix Brand Group, owners of Peanuts Worldwide, shut down Peanutweeter
, a site that took semi-random tweets and fit them to panels from classic Peanuts' strips.
This latest example also involves Peanuts, though it appears not to have been Peanuts Worldwide that brought it down this time. At issue is the blog This Charming Charlie
, which has taken lyrics from songs by The Smiths, and placed them into Charlie Brown comics. It was set up by Lauren LoPrete nearly two months ago, and got a ton of attention back in August, with articles in Slate
among some others. I had actually missed all of that, but came across the blog today totally by accident (literally: was researching something totally unrelated
and a confused Google search sent me to the blog), where I discovered that LoPrete says it's over as of last week because she's been getting takedowns
But here's the odd part. The takedowns aren't from the Peanuts side of things, but the Smiths
. Universal Music Publishing Group is claiming that the use of the Smith's lyrics here violate their copyrights. Frankly, that's ridiculous. First of all, as you can see from a few of the examples below, the strips use just very small snippets of lyrics, and do so in totally transformative ways, in a manner that is clearly commentary on those original lyrics (as well as on Charlie Brown). If anything should be considered fair use, it's this. But, really, what does Universal Music Publishing think they're doing here? Do they honestly think these comic strips somehow hurt the copyright on those lyrics? Really? It seems like just another jerky kneejerk reaction for no reason other than copyright allows them to censor.
Thankfully, it appears that LoPrete isn't just going to fold
. She's been hearing from some lawyers who are interested in representing her, and she sounds like she's going to fight this. She's currently filing counternotices and apparently is ready to fight back even more if Universal decides to try to continue to censor her.