The webcomics blog about webcomics

Half-Life, Part Two

Maybe on the event itself, but the discussion rages on.

Firstly, I’ve received helpful communiques from both Xaviar Xerexes and Lore Sjöberg on the matter of case law. X-man (who, unlike myself, is a lawyer) shares that there’s plenty of case law on Fair Use and threatens his already-stretched family time with the notion of putting together a primer on the topic. Sjöberg helpfully pointed me towards Dr Suess Enterprises v Penguin Books USA, which both corrects my belief that there isn’t case law concerning third-party parody, and settled the question against such being protected by Fair Use.

But the more interesting communication came last night (well after deadline) from Kelsey Armstrong, identified as the infringing party. An excerpt you may find enlightening:

I already appologized to Scott Johnson yesterday right after I saw what happened. I had no intention to rip anyones work off … I just started making shirts and stuff for some fun. Every now and then I would find stuff on google and just post it. I googled “geek” and came up with 56 Geeks. Not bothering to check where I got it from for the owner, any copyrights, etc., I just naively took it from google and posted it….

Like I said, I apologized to Scott for this whole thing and he seemed to understand where I was coming from. I was just being stupid with the power google gave me.

Salient points: it was more from a lack of understanding than from design practices that encourage the rapid development of visuals without regard to origin (cf: “artists” who pay others to come up with designs for them, then produce the work in question for large dollar figures; figures as notable as Todd Goldman engage in this practice) that caused this situation, and Ms Armstrong realizes her mistake.

I feel really stupid for this whole thing, and … although many people seem to think of me as the biggest asshole on the planet, I hope at least you can see me differently, as I hope Scott Johnson does now that I have emailed him. And no, I wont be a repeat offender lol.

Just a thought here, take it as you will. Ms Armstrong has learned a valuable lesson, and it’s one that I think a lot of teens can stand to learn at that age: the ability to recognize when you do something dumb is a valuable life skill. Anybody that’s tossing barbs towards her might do well to remember what idiot things they did at that age (I you don’t look back to that age and realize that you did dumb stuff, you’re fooling yourself) and back off. It took some considerable courage to:

  • Contact and apologize to Scott Johnson
  • Resolve the situation so quickly
  • Reply to my email with a sense of responsibility and desire to do the right thing

In some ways, it would have been much easier for Ms Armstrong to be a defiant jerk all around, and that would make it easy for all of us to dogpile on and hate her. As it is, let’s agree to chalk this one up to a mistake, and at least take the comfort that the example may teach others the lesson about what you can ethically and legally sell, and what you can’t. In the long view, this turned out pretty well all around.

“It took some considerable courage…”

Or read, an 18 year old shows more sense and maturity than that Goldman bloke.

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