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Darkchylde creator Randy Queen faces growing online criticism after he filed copyright takedown notices to remove a series of Tumblr posts critical of his work, and then threatened legal action when the blog’s owner publicized his actions.
Operated by Ami Angelwings, Escher Girls is devoted to critiquing the way women are depicted in “illustrated pop media,” including comics. On Saturday, she revealed Queen had sent Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices to Tumblr alleging copyright infringement in nine posts containing his covers. Entire posts, rather than just the images, were removed by the company.
“To date,” she wrote, “Mr. Queen is the only artist who has taken this kind of action” against Escher Girls. She later offered an update, saying the Darkchylde artist had attempted to have that post removed as well.
Queen reportedly followed that with an email to Escher Girls threatening to sue for defamation:
Dear Eschergirls and Kim,
I would encourage you to put a stop to all of this. I have no problem getting legal involved for defamation, and for your various allegations on your takedown notice thread, and am happy to send a formal cease and desist letter from my lawyer.
Instead of simply removing the content you do not have the right to electronically distribute, you wish to push further, and publicly challenges my right to protect the perception of my IP as it exists today.
At this point, I will ask you to please move along, as no good will come of this.
Additionally, instead of taking shots at art someone did 18 years ago while they were still learning – which are no longer representative of their current art style or direction for their character – I encourage you to spend your time and energy on creating your own characters and comics which you can mkae your own personal sacrifices to bring to the world.
In attempting to silence criticism, Queen only opened himself up to even more from the likes Techdirt, Popehat, Chilling Effects, John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton. As Scalzi noted this morning, Queen’s efforts backfired spectacularly. “I see today that two of the top five Google listings for ‘Randy Queen’ are about him being a jerk,” Scalzi tweeted. “Streisand Effect: Still in effect.”
Techdirt has a solid legal analysis that dismantles Queen’s defamation claims, and argues Escher Girls’ inclusion of the Darkchylde covers “was a pretty clear case of fair use.”
However, Comics Should Be Good blogmaster Brian Cronin, an attorney, points out to ROBOT 6 that when it comes to fair use, “the law is so nebulous that THEORETICALLY I guess I could see a judge agreeing with him. […] What’s the benefit to fight it? All you need is one judge to say, ‘The way I interpret this vague law, this isn’t fair use.'”