Randy Queen, creator of DarkChylde and comic artist, used DMCA forms to bully Escher Girls for negative critical analysis of his work. Tumblr folded quickly with no regard to "fair use."
In a bold (and ill-advised) move, comic book artist and DarkChylde creator Randy Queen decided to dump a ton of DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) requests on Escher Girls, a Tumblr account/website used to critically examine "the certain ways women are depicted in illustrated pop media."
In other words, Escher’s used to point out the misogyny and sexism in an industry constantly under the microscope for said behavior.
Apparently, Queen didn't care for the criticism.
Never mind he's a public figure and putting art out for public consumption. Never mind he bullied the blog runner, Ami Angelwings, through lawsuit threats for not being cowed into submission. Never mind the fact comic book writer Gail Simone snarked, as reviewers for many different genres banned together to say "don't be foolish."
Focus on this on fact: the man gets paid to create art, but he always wants to control intellectual property (IP) interpretation. That's right, everyone. Anyone that buys, reads, or looks at his work must bow to his vision.
Randy Queen very clearly missed the lessons on being confident in what's put out and then realizing interpretation is up to the audience.
Ask any writer about that. It's a long messy conversation, but the general opinion is once something is published, it's no longer yours to control. Leo from The Geekiary summed up the reaction to intent versus interpretation really well: "there aren’t any dire consequences from varying interpretations of a work of art."
Everyone can have an individual view of something with neither being right or wrong. The only thing one can get wrong is facts, but discussing visual media means all you have is imagery to interpret.
Anyone remember the Vincent Van Gogh episode of Doctor Who where Bill Nighy’s character did nothing but explain the artist’s work?
Leo pointed out the connection between audience and author, too.
"The author cannot take away the audience’s freedom to interpret, and the audience cannot seize the author’s creative dominion. Perspectives cannot be enforced, after all; they can only be offered."
So when Queen flipped his lid on Escher Girls, he was pretty much ignoring the basic structure of art criticism and forcing his sole intent on society. Every creator must be willing to take the bad with good. Not everyone will appreciate the work or find it to their taste.
WAIT WHAT ... Randy Queen got tumblr to remove my post talking about how he is using DMCA takedowns to harass me?— Ami Angelwings (@ami_angelwings) August 4, 2014
And Tumblr's willingness to pull without reviewing policies shows a lot of cowardice, as well.
Not to mention pulling the reblogs, or ability to reblog, without providing any receipts on why. "Fair Use" protects critics and critical thinkers, whether it's a positive or negative for an artist. It is not illegal to post a picture that's promoted by creator or company, to offer a different point of view.
Ami Angelwings warned other blogs of his willful abuse of DMCAs and to be on the lookout since their pages may be removed without warning as well. In a letter to Ami, he openly believes her actions "publicly challenges my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today." Uh, no. There's no law for that. Ever. Sorry. Just, no.
Tech Dirt's Mike Masnick breaks it down further. "Perception is an individual thing." So, Queen's singular intent does not mean the rest of the world will follow the same intent or reasoning for his choices in artwork.
The artist then pulls out the "instead of taking shots at art someone did 18 years ago while they were still learning" card—also known as the "stop bullying me" card. You know, the one where people complain about their art and how it's "no longer representative of their current art style or direction for their character." Once something is public, especially published in print form, you can't take anything back.
Queen should remember that.
He condescendingly offers a piece of advice. "I encourage you to spend your time and energy on creating your own characters and comics which you can make your own personal sacrifices to bring to the world."
And while he has "no problem getting legal involved for defamation," the creator should look at his own words about legality since he vaguely threatened the Escher Girls' runner. "I will ask you to please move along, as no good will come of this." How he thinks he can sue anyone is beyond comprehension since DMCA lawsuits are built for thin-skinned companies and artists who are getting ripped off by lack of monetary compensation.
Not someone offering a critical evaluation.
The U.S. Copyright Office is intentionally vague on what is considered "fair use," but Escher Girls would absolutely fall under "quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment." The site's a literal illustration point. If tweaked a bit, the site could also be considered a "small part of a work to illustrate a lesson" on how to not draw a woman's body portions. (You know, the basic intent of the site from the start.)
It also seems this is not the first time Queen has taken down negative views of his work. Especially since "non-critical Tumblr posts of his art/covers and those praising his work appear to be unaffected." Hmm. So if one is overtly positive and kind, the work may stay up, but if someone expresses disbelief at artwork, off with their head?
If Randy Queen has been harassing you for reblogging my post about his DMCA takedowns, screencap it.— Ami Angelwings (@ami_angelwings) August 4, 2014
Did the world fall into illustrations and the Red Queen take over his mind? Considering he's egregiously using DMCAs on the site, it's fair to say it's him being thin-skinned—not Escher Girls. And even warning using the legal process to try and delete the warning post on Tumblr to be taken down, even though his art is not displayed.
Intent is not interpretation. Interpretation is not intent.
Shame on Tumblr for following his tactics without seriously reviewing the content; doing so leaves them open for a flood of requests. It’s not hard to leave a platform nowadays if a user doesn’t feel heard. There’s always a new just around the corner. Ask Livejournal about losing heyday status. Or MySpace. Or Friendster.
Please keep signal boosting this stuff. He's trying to keep people from even KNOWING he's removing posts from Escher Girls.— Ami Angelwings (@ami_angelwings) August 4, 2014
And shame on a man that's been in the business for at least 18 years to use something meant to protect artist work for his inability to handle dissension.