Robot 6

Randy Queen responds to critics with takedown notices, legal threat

darkchyldeDarkchylde 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.'”



It’s Fair Use. critics can post what they’re critiquing so long as they don’t post the entire or most of the work being discussed.

Yeah, that was the first thing that popped into my head: wouldn’t this fall under Fair Use? After all, this Tumblr page is only posting a few pics from Randy Queen’s stories, not entire issues.

The second thing that popped into my head was “Streisand effect” :)

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.’”

So you’d rather let the b——–s win?

so he starts out claiming that people telling others what he does is “defamation”, then claims he has a legal right to control what people think about his work, then finishes it up with the classic “if you don’t like it, do it yourself” shot.
This guy’s sounding like a real winner.

it’s a comic book called “DARKCHYLDE”. I think we should all just move on.

President of Common Sense

August 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

It’s kind of a ridiculous battle to fight especially when ignoring it will make it go away. Still like his work though.

Russell Jones (@RJonesEsquire)

August 5, 2014 at 9:55 am

The biggest trouble with navigating Fair Use is how little people actually go to trial over claims, which in turn sets precedent. Without precedent, we’re left with lots of gray areas to argue over.

That’s why DMCA takedowns are so troubling; they can do real harm to small sites that depend on daily hit counts in order to make their bills by the end of the month. You’re asking an automated system or a few workers to make those kinds of legal decisions of what to take down vs. what to leave up on the fly, which is very different than a judge parsing through the actual legal arguments.

Unless they had built some kind of elaborate shrine to Queen’s work, Cronin is clueless. Fair use clearly applies. Pretending there’s even a question is just absurd.

@geoffrey thorne

Not in my country.

Even if a judge could agree with Queen’s initial report (highly unlikely!), they definitely would not recognize his second report, aimed at the text post, as valid.
While the first one was abuse of DMCA on the grounds of EscherGirls being protected by the Fair Use, the second one was STRAIGHT UP FELONY. He holds no copyright over a single content of that post, therefore he could not report it as infringing. Tumblr was very wrong to comply to his takedown request.

Also the emails he sent her are borderline threats. Their tone and ignorant claims (like his laughable interpretation of defaming or insisting that he has a “right to protect the perception of [his] IP”) imply heavily that he had not consulted a lawyer before typing those. More hilariously, he got super offended when EscherGirls owner got actual legal help in the case, as if it wasn’t an appropriate reaction to being threatened with a lawsuit.

According to Popehat, Ami’s been offered pro bono legal representation due to this cluster. So Randy Queen’s cyber-bullying may have just gotten him in a whole lot deeper than he bargained for.

It sounds like Randy Queen’s knowledge of the law is just about as accurate as his knowledge of anatomy :)

If the unlikely event Randy happens to be reading this, here is your best play:

“I’m sorry, I was having one of those weeks where I was just being a colossal douche, and when challenged on it, I felt threatened and double-downed on the stupid. I realize that now, I regret it, and will try not to do it in the future.”

Seriously, anything else you do in an attempt to win will just make you look like more of an asshole. A ‘mea culpa’ and acknowledging your faults makes you look more sympathetic, because, seriously, we’ve all had days or weeks where we were dicks to people for no good reason.

Howard Harrris

August 5, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Randy Who?

Why not create a character named “Bright Adult” (copyright and trademark pending, but I’ll let the owner of the harassed Tumblr site use free of charge), have the villain named “Horny Monarch” and have a bit of fun with the a-hole?

If you’re an artist, performer, musician, whatever and you put something out there for the world to see and you DON’T want anyone to criticize your work, then DON’T put your work out there!

To some degree, I could see his point of view. And a different route could have been taken. Maybe he could’ve asked them to post a link on every blog to his mores recent work. He could’ve told them that his name is his brand and he makes a living off of his name being on comic books, and could you please post links to my new work because I know how to draw spines now.

Now he’ll be more famous for being a major douche than being an artist.

Just a scare tactic.

He doesn’t have much of a hope of successfully making a claim of defamation.

He doesn’t care if a bunch of fringe feminists hate his art style, as they say, any publicity is good publicity. This isn’t exactly a mainstream comic book, he’ll profit from the attention.

I wonder If Randy Queen has ever heard of the Streisand Effect?

I think he’s since realised that he wasn’t going to win, given that the Internet was against him. He apologised.

Randy Queen vs. Escher Girls.
Digital Homicide vs Jimquisition.
Cool Cat vs IHateEverything.
Wild Games Studio vs TotalBiscuit.

Fair Use has won every time, & the plaintiff just ends up shitting on his public image & ruining his career.

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