I don’t generally comment on stuff that’s going on in the forum but this is just crazy. For those of you not brave enough to venture into the forum let me give you the scoop on the latest drama.
I was contacted a few days ago by a young man who told me that people in my forum were stealing his copyrighted intellectual property and using it as avatars without his permission. Here is the meat of his mail to me:
I am coming to you because I am dead serious about protecting both my intellectual properties and my copyrights and you have an opportunity to remove the offending art before things escalate to a point nobody wants to go.
He goes on to tell me that he has “shut down six web comics that were using his art” and he expects there will be plenty others. Not exactly a good way to open a dialogue.
I went to his web site again this morning and he has now removed the post asking his readers to spam our forums. He has also removed the pictures of the offending artwork that he had posted in order to help prove his case. He has added a new section regarding copyright laws and the swift punishment he will rain down on anyone who steals his stuff. I was lucky enough to see the offending artwork before he removed it and I can honestly say as someone who has been dealing with this sort of thing for over five years that he is insane.
Keep in mind that I am very sympathetic to artists who are having issues with copyright violation. Real issues with Copyright violations that is. From what I saw, apparently some forum member had created sprite based avatars whose feet looked a lot like the feet this guys “draws”. That might sound like a joke but its true. The heads were totally different as were the clothes, but the feet did look kind of similar. Of course it’s hard to determine if the plagiarist in question was copying the sprite work of Squidi.net or the sprite work of every single videogame released for the NES.
So my tip to Sean is to stop and think before you send pissy emails and threaten to shut down someone’s website. Let’s say for the sake of argument that people in my forum had actually stolen your artwork and not just drawn similar feet. That is the cost of doing business on the internet my friend. Chances are they took it and used it as an avatar because they like it. Contacting their ISP and threatening to sue them is not a good way to keep fans. If someone is using a drawing of yours as an avatar, take it as the compliment it is.
Feel free to contact me again when you have people selling T-shirts with your characters or creating homo erotic flash cartoons(NSFW) with your intellectual property. Then maybe we can have a real discussion about artist’s rights as they pertain to the ever changing world of digital distribution.