Tag Archives: intellectual property

Copyright vs. Creativity: Is Intellectual Property Reserved for the 1%?

Filmed at NYU School of Law on September 23, this panel asks whether copyright has lost one of its principle functions: to protect authors and original ideas. In the digital age, does copyright have a purpose beyond protecting corporations from illegal copying and file sharing? The panel featured:

  • Jörg Tittel, author of the recently released Ricky Rouse Has a Gun
  • Charles Brownstein, Executive Director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
  • Christopher Sprigman, Professor of Law, Author of The Knockoff Economy
  • Barton Beebe, John M. Desmarais Professor of Intellectual Property Law

An interesting discussion and well worth watching for anyone in the comic industry.

Around the Tubes

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – ‘Astro Boy’ Gets New Treatment for TV – Nice!

Carter Law Firm – Intellectual Property in Comic Books – Some good advice.

The Beat – Rocket Raccoon #1′s Initial Orders Inflated By Single Source – Guess I know what I’m getting in a future Loot Crate.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – All-New X-Men #28

Talking Comics – Armor Hunters #1

CBR – Armor Hunters #1

Talking Comics – Avengers Undercover #5

Comic Vine – Deadpool #30

Comic Vine – Detective Comics #32

Talking Comics – Figment #1

Comic Vine – Green Lantern Corps #32

Comic Vine – Lumberjanes #3

Comic Vine – New Avengers #19

Comic Vine – Red City #1

Comic Vine – Star Wars #18

CBR – Tech Jacket #1

Talking Comics – That’s Because You’re a Robot

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.

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.

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)

Rep. Darrell Issa Wants You to be Able to Rip Your DVDs

In October in the latest DMCA exemption review, the Copyright Office/Librarian of Congress refused to say it was legal for you to rip your own legally purchased DVDs so that you could watch them on a computer or tablet. That’d make a lot of us criminals for just loading our iPods and iPads.

The ludicrous nature of that didn’t go unnoticed and Representative Darrell Issa is planning a bill to fix the Copyright Office’s mistake.

We think we can write at least some clarifying language that would instruct the Copyright Office to more accurately define what is, in fact, fair use. People who make copies on their iPod for jogging are not the problem.

We won’t see this legislation until next Congress, in 2013. Hopefully we can see some broad support to expand fair use, as proposed by the report that was taken down by the Republican Study Committee. Considering as it currently stands, we’re a nation of lawbreakers just for wanting our purchased media to no longer be tethered to the outdated discs we purchased years ago.

The Anti-IP Turn for the GOP Lasts Less than 24 Hours

Though Democrats are generally thought of as the party of “Hollywood” hosting numerous fundraisers are bigwigs’ houses, it shouldn’t be forgotten along with their “free market” and “pro-big business” stances, the Republican party also tends to support strong protections for intellectual property.

That’s why it was interesting on Friday when the conservative Republican Study Committee released a brief with reasonable and smart reform suggestions towards how we handle intellectual property in this country. The report was released to the House Conservative Caucus and various think tanks and laid out “three myths about copyright law” and some ways to go about correcting the broken system.

The paper also suggests four potential solutions:

  1. Statutory damages reform — in other words, saving average folks the legal headaches and crippling fines
  2. Expand fair use
  3. Punish false copyright claims – something that’ll save us from false mass take downs
  4. Heavily limit copyright terms, and create disincentives for renewal – supporting creativity

Late Saturday, the document disappeared, less than 24 hours from when it was posted. A memo was sent around as to the reason.

From: Teller, Paul
Sent: Saturday, November 17, 2012 04:11 PM
Subject: RSC Copyright PB

We at the RSC take pride in providing informative analysis of major policy issues and pending legislation that accounts for the range of perspectives held by RSC Members and within the conservative community. Yesterday you received a Policy Brief on copyright law that was published without adequate review within the RSC and failed to meet that standard. Copyright reform would have far-reaching impacts, so it is incredibly important that it be approached with all facts and viewpoints in hand. As the RSC’s Executive Director, I apologize and take full responsibility for this oversight. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and a meaningful Thanksgiving holiday….

Paul S. Teller
Executive Director
U.S. House Republican Study Committee

Leaks and reports from the inside instead point to something more insidious than “adequate review.” It turns out the RIAA, MPAA and the entertainment bullies lobbyists didn’t take too kindly to the report, demanding it be removed. These are the same organizations that blamed us techies for our unwillingness to discuss these issues during the SOPA/PIPA battles of last year. Here, they’ve stifled an honest look at a system that’s gone completely off the rails and needs to be reformed. Interestingly, a viewpoint and idea track that could help with the Republican’s issue of youth vote. It showed a generational divide on the issue and for once was a policy that sided with the younger generation, as opposed to the Hollywood overlords.

You can read the document yourself below:

Supreme Court Weighs First-Sale Case and Why It Matters to You

This Monday, not deterred by Sandy bearing down on DC, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in  Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.  a court case involving the first-sale doctrine. At issue as provided by Scotus Blog:

How do Section 602(a)(1) of the Copyright Act, which prohibits the importation of a work without the authority of the copyright’s owner, and Section 109(a) of the Copyright Act, which allows the owner of a copy “lawfully made under this title” to sell or otherwise dispose of the copy without the copyright owner’s permission, apply to a copy that was made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States?

The case comes after a lower court ruling. Supap Kirtsaeng, a graduate student, arranged to import textbooks legally purchased at a discount in his native Thailand. He then resold them to buyers in the United States on eBay to help pay for his school expenses. The publisher, John Wiley & Sons, sued, arguing that the first-sale doctrine does not apply to works purchased overseas in so-called gray markets. The lower court sided with Wiley & Sons.

So lets start with what the first-sale doctrine is. This is the concept that if you want to resell or donate a legally purchased copywritten item, you don’t need to seek the permission of the rights holder. This means you can resell your video games or cd’s or comic books that you legally purchase. The lower court said “the question presented is how these provisions apply to a copy that was made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States.” I want you to take a moment to go and look at where those video games, cd’s and comic books you play, listen to and read are made. Bet you it isn’t the United States.

The Supreme Court last considered the right to import copyrighted works from overseas for domestic resale in 2010, when it deadlocked four to four in Costco v. Omega, with Justice Elena Kagan, who had been involved in the case as an attorney with the Justice Department, having recused herself. Kagan is participating in the Kirtsaeng case.

As you can see in the posted oral arguments, the court seemed to take issues with both sides’ arguments. But, this ruling has major implications for us comic book fans. A strict interpretation that says we can’t sell foreign imported works means we couldn’t resell our old comics. Those who like to buy and sell on ebay or shop owners with old stock could be hampered by this, shutting down the secondary market.

There’s also the other extreme. If the court rules that legally purchased items could be resold, there’s greater implications for digital goods. If you purchase a digital comic, no matter the service, could you now resell those no matter the agreement you sign to use the digital service? In a statement, Andrew Shore, executive director of the Owners’ Rights Initiative, said the group “hopes that the Supreme Court will take this opportunity to defend owners’ rights and clarify that if you buy something, you own it.” Take that and apply it to virtual goods and you can see this decision has a much greater impact than some imported college textbooks.

With a ruling expected in 2013, you better believe all eyes should be on the Supreme Court.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is here and if you’re on the East coast like myself, you’re preparing for the weather apocalypse… which I’ll spend reading comics.

Around the Blogs

ComicsAlliance – Kirby Family Asks Court to Overturn Marvel RulingInteresting…


Around the Tubes Reviews

Make Wealth History – The Co-operative Revolution

Talking Comics – I, Vampire #13

CBR – Journey Into Mystery #645

Talking Comics – Multiple Warheads #1

Esquire – The Nao of Brown

Talking Comics – Punisher War Zone #1

Talking Comics – Talon #1

Paste Magazine – Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round Up 10/24/12

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