Robot 6

Quote of the day | Theft or fair use?

Here’s a nice coda to the whole Affaire d’Oatmeal: Political cartoonist Donna Barstow takes exception to the site Something Awful posting her cartoons without consent, and in the process, sums up about three weeks’ worth of lengthy posts in one pithy exchange:

“Are you talking about people posting them on the forums and making fun of them?” responded Something Awful’s David Thorpe. “I think you might be confused about the internet”

“I think you’re confused about money,” came Barstow’s retort. “Can I send an invoice your way?”

And there we have it: Legitimate commentary or picking someone’s pocket?

UPDATE: Here’s a link to Barstow’s site.



She seems like sort of a complete idiot.

i fail to see how forum users are competing against her business model, whatever that might be. She must be confused about the purpose of copyright.

You just published one of her cartoons without permission. Expect a lawsuit soon.

Jake Earlewine

July 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Posting someone else’s work on the internet is called “theft.”

Jake, posting someone else’s work on the internet is called theft by you, it’s called fair use by others. This site your on now features blogs with all kinds of art from old comics for commentary and discussion. Is that theft?

The way theft works is that you take something away from someone and then they don’t have it anymore. That’s no the situation here. What was stolen from her?


July 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm

There are standards that have to be met to qualify for the fair use exemption, P Green.


Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—

(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.”

I couldn’t care less about this cartoonist. Not only is she seemingly racist (see the Mexico cartoon), contributing to negative stereotypes about “wishy-washy” (read: bisexual) men, but she’s also a fairly horrible cartoonist. Check out her “joke” about the increase in reading scores. It’s neither a funny joke, nor a good drawing.

I like how it’s okay to repost content for certain artists cause “You can’t stop the signal MAN” but approved favorites are not to have their precious work touched.

Red Comet – I might be able to help you:

With the Oatmeal, the cartoons were swiped by the owners of a website and presented as original material in order to gain profit.
With Barstow, the cartoons were posted on a forum by individual users, presented as Barstow’s work, in order to stimulate humorous discussion and gain insight into the mind of a dopey racist.

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