Tag Archives: copyright

RedBubble Responds about Skottie Young

We previously brought you the story of creator Skottie Young who took to Twitter to vent about his art being sold without his permission on clothing and other items through the website RedBubble. We reached out to RedBubble and received a response over the weekend. Through email, we learned about 20,000 works per month are removed. Some of this is in direct response to DMCA notices and some will be as a result of the pro-active polices, cited below, that the company takes.

RedBubble CEO Martin Hosking wrote us with the below info, which is similar to what we discussed years ago when we talked to them about the same subject:

First thing is once we were aware of the Skottie issue this morning we immediately took action. We do this under our normal processes. They may be more extensive than people realise and go beyond the strict requirements of the DMCA. I highlight this below.

You know this, but so it is in one place: Redbubble is a community built on respect, recognition and appreciation of original artists. We take matters of intellectual property extremely seriously. We value originality and creativity, and we strongly oppose infringement of copyright, trademark, publicity rights, or any other intellectual property rights.

I’d like to clarify that Redbubble does not itself manufacture, sell or distribute the products on its Web site.  Rather, Redbubble is the host of an online marketplace. Regardless, it is absolutely Redbubble’s policy and practice to respect intellectual property rights of others and to provide reasonable assistance to rights holders in this regards.

As you have written on in the past, in an effort to strike a balance between the rights of rights owners to prevent infringing uses of their intellectual property and the rights of visual artists to make non-infringing, and/or fair uses of related content, Redbubble has implemented a fairly extensive set of copyright, trademark and DMCA procedures, which are set forth at : http://support.redbubble.com/kb/top20/copyright-trademark-and-dmca.

Central to these procedures is our Notice and Takedown process, modeled after the one set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Submitting a takedown notice is a fairly straightforward process, and once we receive the information required under the DMCA, we act expeditiously (typically within 24 hours) to remove any listing that a bona fide rights owner or licensee identifies as infringing. This takedown is always subject to our counter notification process, which gives sellers affected by takedowns the opportunity to establish their right to sell the material at issue. More detail about the take down and counter notice process can be found at the following URL: http://support.redbubble.com/kb/top20/redbubble-ippublicity-rights-policy#report

Although we’re not required by law, we take further proactive efforts on many occasions and work closely with numerous content owners, brands and individual artists to minimize instances of third party infringement of intellectual property rights via the Redbubble marketplace. We also immediately remove any user who is identified as a repeat infringer, per our policies.

Again, I want to emphasize, Redbubble takes matters of alleged IP infringement very seriously and we do not take lightly any suggestion (not that you have made this) that we have any other stance on this issue.

It’s good to see RedBubble take this issue seriously. This is an issue that’s beyond them, and one of the nature of the internet itself. With everybody able to quickly share, re-use, and re-post, this debate has raged for years, and I expect to continue for years to come.

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Skottie Young vs. RedBubble

redbubbleRedBubble is an online store/community where anyone can create an account, and begin selling “their” designs on numerous types of items. Unfortunately, not everyone sells their own designs.

Creator Skottie Young went to Twitter to vent his frustration with individuals using his art, and selling it on items.

This is illegal, it’s also against RedBubble’s terms of service. We spoke to RedBubble in 2012 about this very subject:

Something that’s intrigued me was how a platform like this handles copyright claims. Luckily I got a chance to discuss it with their team, inquiring how copyright claims and the DMCA affected them. Talking to staff, they said the system works as is and they rely on their community to raise flags and also abide by requests made by copyright holders or their agents. They immediately abide by the request and then contact the artist, facilitating the legal exchange. The community is key, not just when it comes to copyright, but also the quality of the product itself.

In this case, either the community doesn’t know, or doesn’t care. Young provided examples of numerous individuals doing this, though it’s unclear if he’s reached out to RedBubble directly to make them aware of the situation, other than on Twitter. The company’s feed has been posting items since he first tweeted, but they haven’t responded publicly.

Here’s what RedBubble has to say on the subject in their Community Guidelines:

Redbubble respects Copyright and Trademark laws and will remove any work found to infringe Copyright or Trademark protection. If you believe your copyright or other intellectual property rights are being infringed, you are able to make a formal complaint by using the processes described in our policy – http://support.redbubble.com/kb/top20/copyright-trademark-and-dmca

In fact, if you go to the items directly, there’s a handy link to turn them in.

redbubble_youngWhile we don’t condone individuals who do this, there’s a mechanism to turn folks in and get content taken down. This is a similar method as exists at YouTube and Google, and more, and laid out by laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

There’s absolutely more that can be done on the RedBubble’s end. Google’s search by image didn’t exist when the website launched. Using that to find if there’s hits for items uploaded can create a moderation system to prevent this.

The use of images on the internet has become a blurred area too. While things like this are clearly wrong, and illegal, so is the use of GIFs (no it is not Fair Use), and possibly even posting images that we don’t own. How different creators, and companies, handle these situations varies too. Some have no problem with these situations, others come down like a hammer. But, there are laws, and tools in place for creators or companies to reach out and get content pulled.

We reached out to RedBubble for comment.

Around the Tubes

It’s a new week of geeky goodness. What’s got everyone excited?

Around the Tubes

Boing Boing – Bowie’s takedown of Hadfield’s ISS “Space Oddity” highlights copyright’s absurdity – Yup, the system is pretty broken.

Badass Digest – We Need To Talk About Spider-Man – This is a really solid article on the Spider-Man movies.

The Verge – YouTube reportedly buying Twitch for $1 billion – Not comic related, but still important.

Mashable – 18 Ways to Punch Up Your Wedding With Comic Books – Well, there goes some money of mine.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Superman/Wonder Woman #8

Around the Tubes

The weekend is here! What’s everyone doing?

Around the Tubes

Bleeding Cool – Blackout Is Coming To Agents Of SHIELD, Played By Patrick Brennan – Interesting.

Spinoff Online – CinemaCon 2014 | ‘X-Men’ Excites But ‘The Secret Service’ Steals Fox’s Show  – Also interesting.

GamePolitics – UK Copyright Law Will Allow CD and DVD Ripping This Summer – Very nice.
Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – All-New X-Factor #5

Talking Comics – Guardians of the Galaxy #13

IGN – Noah

CBR – Superior Spider-Man #30

CBR – The Wake #7

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What’s everyone getting?

Around the Tubes

CBR – Miller’s “Xerxes” won’t be done in time for “300″ movie sequel – Shocker.

CBR – Carey, Larocca Team for “X-Men: No More Humans” OGN – Interesting.

Kotaku – Game Ad Blocked On “Major US Games Site” Because It Was “Political”- We’ll run it!

Kotaku – YouTube Channels Crippled By Copyright Claims – We got hit by a video given to us by a press contact!

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #14

Comics Alliance – WWE Superstars #1

Around the Tubes

The weekend is here and I’ll be spending it watching Doctor Who! What about you all?

Around the Tubes

Comic Legends Revealed – Mort Weisinger alluded to the alleged John F. Kennedy/Marilyn Monroe affair in a Superboy comic book story. – Interesting.

CBR – Affleck & Damon Producing Adaptation of Brubaker & Phillips’ “Sleeper” – Nice!

Variety – Warner Bros. Wins Final Element of ‘Superman’ Copyright Case – Hrm.

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Batwoman #25

Seattle Pi – Boxers & Saints

Talking Comics – Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #2

CBR – Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure #1

CBR – The Wake #5

Talking Comics – The Wake #5

Supreme Court Saves Used Comics Business

Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court in a 6-3 ruling, held that the doctrine of first sale, which allows for legally acquired copyrighted works to be resold by their owners, does apply to works made overseas. This is a huge deal. In Kirtsaeng vs. Wiley a Thai national (Kirtsaeng) came to the U.S. to study at Cornell and U.S.C. To help pay for his expenses, he resold textbooks his family purchased at bookstores in Thailand. We’re talking several hundred thousand dollars worth of textbooks. The profit was in the range of $100,000. This caught the attention of Wiley (a textbook publisher) who sued for copyright infringement. The district court found for Wiley and imposed statutory damages of $600,000.   The Second Circuit affirmed.

This decision reverses the Second Circuit court decision which ruled that “lawfully made” limited the first sale doctrine to those items made in the areas that the U.S. Copyright Act is law. So that means you couldn’t resell items made in China for instance.

This had a potentially huge impact on the geek community as video games, comics, movies, etc. are rarely made here in the United States. If the Supreme Court upheld the original decision, it would have decimated the second-hand market.

The Supreme Court decided though there is no “geographical limitation” on the copyright law.

The fact that the Act does not instantly pro­tect an American copyright holder from unauthorized piracy taking place abroad does not mean the Act is inapplicable to copies made abroad.

Numerous organizations, associations and more were also acknowledged for their comments on the case in that this would have curtailed the “progress of science and useful arts.”

Marvel/Disney Sends Creator Owned Comic Cease and Desist (Updated)

You can thank Disney for our current clusterfuck that is copyright and it hasn’t taken long for Marvel, now under the Disney banner, to hop on the bandwagon. On top of their legal battles with the various creators of the characters they are currently making millions on, the house the Mouse owns is now targeting creator owned projects.

Marvel/Disney has sent a cease and desist to creators Mike Kaluta and Elaine Lee over their project Starstruck.

Taken from a Facebook post:

Look, I TOLD everyone once the Marvel vs. Friedrich judgment was cast, we’d be seeing Marvel/Disney going after every creator that emerged in their legal department bullseye. Case in point: Marvel/Disney issued a CEASE & DESIST letter against ELAINE LEE & MIKE KALUTA for their creator-owned, Epic-published STARSTRUCK.

Elaine Lee wrote, this morning: “Look, I’ll say it now. Kaluta and I, just week before last, received a letter from a Marvel/Disney attorney, challenging our rights to Starstruck, a project that was briefly with Marvel/Epic, supposedly their creator-owned imprint, almost three decades ago. Since then, we’ve been published by Dark Horse and IDW. This has sent us rummaging through 30-year-old documents, looking for proof that we own what we own. We’ve found several letters that back up our claim that the rights were returned to us, and things seem to have quieted down, but we are still looking for more “just in case.” You don’t screw around with The Mouse.

I’m currently doing an interview for a new book on women in geeky professions. They asked me to give advice to young women starting out. My advice is do your own thing. Keep the rights to your work. If you sell your work, make sure you get Hollywood money, not comic book money.”

Got that? Marvel/Disney, attacking the creators of the only creator-ownership line they’d launched, post COMIX BOOK.

The Marvel/Disney legal machine is capable of ANYTHING in the name of “we own it ALL.”

It’s possible this letter was a simple mistake, but they cost creators and those sent them time and money to respond. This is why false cease and desist and take down notices should bring with them fines and penalties. This way, only legitimate ones are sent and those inconvenienced are reimbursed for false accusations.

An update is below, but it only solidifies my thoughts above.


Elaine Lee writes: Just to make sure that things don’t veer into the realm of “truthiness,” Michael Kaluta and I received a letter that challenged our ownership of Starstruck and used the words, “please stop all sales and other related activities.” Through our lawyer, we provided two letters from Marvel’s former publisher, Mike Hobson, that backed our ownership of Starstruck. Things seem to have calmed down now. The situation seems to have been resolved. (I’m overusing the word “seems,” so as not to jinx myself. Knock wood.) It was scary. At first, we weren’t sure we could find the 3-decades-old documents we needed. (From way back in the pre-digtal days, youngsters. We’re talking paper here. Dusty, old, yellow paper.) But there is no lawsuit. We think it may either have been about Disney’s teen movie of a couple of years back, also called Starstruck. They may have found us while looking for people infringing on their property. Or they may have been simply trying to figure out what they still owned. But it was a frightening way to do it. So, this may have been an aberration, or other Epic creators may hear from them. Who knows? But creators may want to scare up that old paperwork. It can’t hurt and might save you several days of abject fear.

(via Bleeding Cool)

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