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Comic Copyright Violation (Parody laws & disclaimer help)

Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
edited May 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi there, I am about to venture in something a bit deeper than I anticipated.

Recently, I had some of my comics taken down and was reported for Copyright Infringement on Deviant Art. Specifically, Magic The Gathering parody strips. I am currently in the process of getting an appeal, but from what the rest of the DA community has told me, it won't be anytime soon. I don't know who exactly would report these works (most likely Hasbro Legal), but I'd like to avoid any problems like this in the future.

Is there anyone here that had the same problems or can point me in the right direction to write a disclaimer that can assist me in the future?

Here's the notice that I received:
Spoiler:

And to be clear, all these were non-profit. I didn't make a dime off of these.

Polish Tamales on
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Posts

  • CabezoneCabezone Registered User regular
    Well deviant art can make any sort of policy they want, even if you're producing otherwise legal art.

  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    The problem is, these works were reported to them. They don't actively seek out copyright material unless it's been reported.

  • noir_bloodnoir_blood Registered User regular
    Maybe whoever reported it did it to get back at you or something like that?

    Cause I mean, going by those terms, Deviant Arts would pretty much have to take down 99% of all content on their website.

    Spoiler:
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    That's pretty much got a lot of people upset about it on my Tumblr/Twitter feeds, which is why I'm trying to get it appealed.

    There's a few people that could do it out of spite since I've turned down a lot of pornographic commissions, but having my work removed ASAP without giving me a warning to change or modify the work changes that logic a bit. Some of my previous older works would occasionally be reassigned to different categories and I would receive a warning. It wasn't the case this time.

    Polish Tamales on
  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    So your work was taken down and you want to avoid having them removed in the future? Or you're worried about future repercussions?

    First, you label your works "MTG" and state that they are card-based artwork. Are you using any MTG assets, such as the Tap symbol or borders? Can someone look at what you did and think "That's funny, but it looks like a real card?" Since you name them pretty obviously, I wouldn't be surprised if someone at WoTC did a quick search and just had Deviant Art remove anything using their brand as a name.

    || Flickr — || PSN: EggyToast
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    I doubt it was Hasbro or WotC that reported it. They just don't really do that sort of thing, especially on DeviantArt.

    It was either someone pissed at you or just some random rule nazi that felt like being annoying.

    Just ditch Deviantart and put your work on your own tumblr or private site, and that solves your problem.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    I doubt it was Hasbro or WotC that reported it. They just don't really do that sort of thing, especially on DeviantArt.

    It was either someone pissed at you or just some random rule nazi that felt like being annoying.

    Just ditch Deviantart and put your work on your own tumblr or private site, and that solves your problem.

    Yeah, I recently turned my Tumblr into pre-production/comic site due to the turns of events.

    What's a good disclaimer so I can publish these works without someone calling wolf on them?

  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    EggyToast wrote: »
    So your work was taken down and you want to avoid having them removed in the future? Or you're worried about future repercussions?

    I want to avoid having them taken down again.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    This email doesn't say they've removed your content because they received an infringement notice from the copyright owner. It says they took it down because it doesn't comply with their copyright policy.

    You can complain to their helpdesk, but it's completely up to their discretion as to whether they re-post. What makes you think these works were reported to them?

  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    oldsak wrote: »
    This email doesn't say they've removed your content because they received an infringement notice from the copyright owner. It says they took it down because it doesn't comply with their copyright policy.

    You can complain to their helpdesk, but it's completely up to their discretion as to whether they re-post. What makes you think these works were reported to them?

    They don't usually scan through art to verify unless it's under the radar. Most of the process of removal is based on reports.

  • oldsakoldsak Registered User regular
    Well I'm not really sure how you think a disclaimer is going to help you. If a company thinks you're infringing on its work, it's going to send out a notice to deviant art regardless of what kind of disclaimer you have.

  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    I rath
    oldsak wrote: »
    Well I'm not really sure how you think a disclaimer is going to help you. If a company thinks you're infringing on its work, it's going to send out a notice to deviant art regardless of what kind of disclaimer you have.

    I'd rather have a disclaimer and when the time comes, that's enough to cause a PR nightmare if something worst happens.

    Polish Tamales on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    Any time a company even hints at copyright infringement even parody (I would even say ESPECIALLY parody), they are going to try and get it taken down. At that point it is entirely in DA's court whether or not to do it. It sounds like you already found your only recourse, which is to appeal. Putting a disclaimer on it isn't going to stop said company from sending a cease and desist letter.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    wrote:
    When I was a little kid, I always pretended I was the hero,' Skip said.
    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    Sentry wrote: »
    Any time a company even hints at copyright infringement even parody (I would even say ESPECIALLY parody), they are going to try and get it taken down. At that point it is entirely in DA's court whether or not to do it. It sounds like you already found your only recourse, which is to appeal. Putting a disclaimer on it isn't going to stop said company from sending a cease and desist letter.

    How did Tyco and crew handle the Strawberry Shortcake strip a few years back?

  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Sentry wrote: »
    Any time a company even hints at copyright infringement even parody (I would even say ESPECIALLY parody), they are going to try and get it taken down. At that point it is entirely in DA's court whether or not to do it. It sounds like you already found your only recourse, which is to appeal. Putting a disclaimer on it isn't going to stop said company from sending a cease and desist letter.

    How did Tyco and crew handle the Strawberry Shortcake strip a few years back?

    They took the strip down and apologized profusely.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Seriously though, you're worried WAY to much about this, you're not making money off it, and Hasbro or WotC didn't come after you, and won't unless you start selling bootleg magic cards.

    Just do what you've already done, which is take your work off deviantart to your own site. You don't need a disclaimer. If you have to put one up to sleep better, just say something like "MtG © (whoever) (date)"

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    Seriously though, you're worried WAY to much about this, you're not making money off it, and Hasbro or WotC didn't come after you, and won't unless you start selling bootleg magic cards.

    Just do what you've already done, which is take your work off deviantart to your own site. You don't need a disclaimer. If you have to put one up to sleep better, just say something like "MtG © (whoever) (date)"

    Ok, that seems like sound advice. Thanks & I'll try not piss anyone off in the process.

    Polish Tamales on
  • a5ehrena5ehren Registered User regular
    Sentry wrote: »
    Any time a company even hints at copyright infringement even parody (I would even say ESPECIALLY parody), they are going to try and get it taken down. At that point it is entirely in DA's court whether or not to do it. It sounds like you already found your only recourse, which is to appeal. Putting a disclaimer on it isn't going to stop said company from sending a cease and desist letter.

    How did Tyco and crew handle the Strawberry Shortcake strip a few years back?

    They took the strip down and apologized profusely.

    As they said in one of the books, their lawyers informed them that using one person's IP to make fun of a different IP does not fall under the typical 1st Amendment parody protections. IANAL, but your situation seems far less complicated than theirs. I would just add a disclaimer to your page in the future that says something like "all art is (c) WOTC".

    If you want to be really safe, you can probably contact them directly and ask for permission to use the cards in your strip. They probably won't even bother to respond, but it may be worth a shot.

  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Okay, I'm confused, because I looked at your tumblr and it's just your art. In fact the only thing I see there that's not 100% unique is your comic covers that look like movie posters but in your style.

    What are the images they took down? Did you have the magic card borders on your art? Was it the legitMtg logo?

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    The Tumblr page is all recent art. The ones that were removed have been re-uploaded on DA (which like I mentioned, they don't monitor art until it's reported). So they're things like these.

    http://polishtamales.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d4y98it

    Reporting images does require some leg work to file. It's not just a single click.

    Polish Tamales on
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    Okay, one of your problems is that you very clearly, in both the FNM Hero, LegitMTG website, and MTG: Dazzled! comic title, reference stuff that's not yours. STOP DOING THAT. You don't work for them, so your entire line of (by the way very impressive) artwork can't begin with "Brought to you by MTG!" and "MTG Presents"

    Is this your company or are you working for someone? Because I see the problem now and why your stuff was taken down.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    For reference. Do you watch The Guild? There's a reason they call that "The Game"

    It's fine to have a comic called 'Wacky adventures" where friends like to play some DnD or Magic to unwind, from time to time. It's not fine to tag every single piece of art you have with another company's IP before it.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    I am a part of LegitMTG.com and their current articles, which include the FNM Hero segments. Dazzled is the comic series I've created.

  • a5ehrena5ehren Registered User regular
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    a5ehren wrote: »
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

    It's more of a parody line of comics. It's no different than fan made D&D comics and stuff you'd see on Kotaku's Sunday Funnies. If you're suggesting to drop the category of "MTG" from the file and just stick with Dazzled followed by the title of the strip, then I can work with that.

    Polish Tamales on
  • a5ehrena5ehren Registered User regular
    a5ehren wrote: »
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

    It's more of a parody line of comics. It's no different than fan made D&D comics and stuff you'd see on Kotaku's Sunday Funnies. If you're suggesting to drop the category of "MTG" from the file and just stick with Dazzled followed by the title of the strip, then I can work with that.

    That's what I'm saying. I didn't see anything in the art itself that would be infringing (to my knowledge), but I'm guessing that using the "MTG" title (even though its probably a trademark, not a copyright, but I don't know DA's policies with that stuff) is what got you in trouble.

  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    a5ehren wrote: »
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

    It's more of a parody line of comics. It's no different than fan made D&D comics and stuff you'd see on Kotaku's Sunday Funnies. If you're suggesting to drop the category of "MTG" from the file and just stick with Dazzled followed by the title of the strip, then I can work with that.

    I'd start there for sure, but that still might not fix the issue.

    I'm not a lawyer, but the thing is, parody generally (to my recollection) refers to one time or every once in a while. Like for instance, I can have a comic where Iron Man shows up randomly for a strip and gets drunk and throws up on the birthday cake.

    I can't have a strip where Iron Man is my room mate. Most likely, you can't do a strip where a bunch of people play Magic all the time and talk about how awesome Magic is.

    There's loopholes, obviously, but that's a really, really tricky road, and for someone as talented as you seem to be, I'd start considering other options for your talent.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    Guess I can just take some breaks and explore other cultures in the gaming community so that it doesn't become an issue. Like D&D, Console Gaming, and maybe technology.

    Thanks, I think I know what kind of direction I should be doing to avoid copyright issues in the future.

    Polish Tamales on
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    a5ehren wrote: »
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

    It's more of a parody line of comics. It's no different than fan made D&D comics and stuff you'd see on Kotaku's Sunday Funnies. If you're suggesting to drop the category of "MTG" from the file and just stick with Dazzled followed by the title of the strip, then I can work with that.

    Also, and I promise this isn't me just nitpicking or trying to be harsh, but this statement above shows the difference. Fan made D&D comics are done by people just looking to make funny comics. Your stuff is being used to promote a business, using another business to help promote it without their knowledge or consent.

    Even though your comics are free to read, they're being used to sell magic cards online through that site. So you're using the MtG brand to sell cards third party, which honestly could land your team there at legitMtG in some serious cease and desist trouble down the road.

    I'm not one of your investors, but you need to rethink that entire business model.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    There's a couple issues here: whether you're actually infringing copyright (or trademark, which seems more likely unless you're reproducing complete game materials in your work), and why deviantart took the work down. Hosting websites generally take stuff down as soon as they receive a notice, because they'd rather not deal with hasbro or whoever's legal team.

    Note that whether you made money or not doesn't really matter.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    'let's all get high, from the income angle'
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    a5ehren wrote: »
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

    It's more of a parody line of comics. It's no different than fan made D&D comics and stuff you'd see on Kotaku's Sunday Funnies. If you're suggesting to drop the category of "MTG" from the file and just stick with Dazzled followed by the title of the strip, then I can work with that.

    Also, and I promise this isn't me just nitpicking or trying to be harsh, but this statement above shows the difference. Fan made D&D comics are done by people just looking to make funny comics. Your stuff is being used to promote a business, using another business to help promote it without their knowledge or consent.

    Even though your comics are free to read, they're being used to sell magic cards online through that site. So you're using the MtG brand to sell cards third party, which honestly could land your team there at legitMtG in some serious cease and desist trouble down the road.

    I'm not one of your investors, but you need to rethink that entire business model.

    Well you might want to look into Starcitygames and Manadeprived. They've been doing this for a while and they haven't had any legal issues. They're both fronts for an online store.

    Polish Tamales on
  • amateurhouramateurhour Registered User regular
    a5ehren wrote: »
    This. Quit using their brand to promote your strip. Maybe have a blurb somewhere "inspired by WOTC's MTG", but don't put it in every single title you post.

    It's more of a parody line of comics. It's no different than fan made D&D comics and stuff you'd see on Kotaku's Sunday Funnies. If you're suggesting to drop the category of "MTG" from the file and just stick with Dazzled followed by the title of the strip, then I can work with that.

    Also, and I promise this isn't me just nitpicking or trying to be harsh, but this statement above shows the difference. Fan made D&D comics are done by people just looking to make funny comics. Your stuff is being used to promote a business, using another business to help promote it without their knowledge or consent.

    Even though your comics are free to read, they're being used to sell magic cards online through that site. So you're using the MtG brand to sell cards third party, which honestly could land your team there at legitMtG in some serious cease and desist trouble down the road.

    I'm not one of your investors, but you need to rethink that entire business model.

    Well you might want to look into Starcitygames and Manadeprived. They've been doing this for a while and they haven't had any legal issues. They're both fronts for an online store.

    That's very good for them, but it doesn't mean what they're doing is legal, and unless you've contacted them, you don't know if they've worked out a deal with the companies they use to promote their products.

    "These other guys are doing it" isn't an excuse.

    Here's what I do...
    The Vac - My Science Fiction Epic
    Fortune Pancakes - My Gag-A-Day Comic
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    I've had some of my work published on Manadeprived last year and they said they haven't been contacted by any legal team or previous comics (other artists) they have hosted.

    I feel that as long as I don't purposely cause harm or promote hate towards a specific company's IP, then that be more beneficial so big corporate doesn't blindly send out the dogs. Or maybe it could be just some random guy (as others mentioned) I turned down to do a commission with, because the said commission contained images deemed illegal in some countries. You get a lot of those on DA...

    Polish Tamales on
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    You may feel that way, but what you feel and what the law says are two completely different matters.

    Companies have to protect their IP's and copyrights all the time, since any leeway one one issue could avalanche into much more. Follow the advice people have already given.

    scale3nk0.png
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    Under parody laws, I should be protected.

    "When producing parodies it is acceptable under US law to use bits of the original show to enhance the comedic nature of your new creation. This includes music and other identifying elements. It does not violate copyright law, as long as it doesn't damage or harm the reputation of the original or try to pose as the original. "

    http://www.open-spaces.com/article-v2n1-loren.php

    It does make sense why the original Strawberry Shortcake strip was taken down, but it doesn't necessarily make sense how Robot Chicken/Family Guy gets away with theirs on some segments. George Lucas was probably approached and gave his thumbs up, but I'm not sure if they had to go through every single party to get clearance.

    Using "feel" was probably not the best choice of words then. In any case, I will follow the advice of others, but I won't back down as long as I'm protected by basic parody rights in the the US courts. I will, however, do more research into the matters as well as seek legal advice concerning this issue with an actual lawyer.

    Polish Tamales on
  • VeeveeVeevee WisconsinRegistered User regular
    Robot chicken gets away with it because their parodies are one time uses. They have superman come in and do a 10 second joke and fly away. They don't do multiple, 15 minute shows centered around the life and times of Superman

    And yes, they did get permission from Lucas to do the Star Wars parodies.

    steam_sig.png
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    IANAL, but it doesn't say your work got taken down because it violated copyright law; it said it got taken down because it violated DeviantArt's policy. From what it says up there, it appears that their policy doesn't allow for Fair Use.

  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    edited May 2012
    Thanatos wrote: »
    IANAL, but it doesn't say your work got taken down because it violated copyright law; it said it got taken down because it violated DeviantArt's policy. From what it says up there, it appears that their policy doesn't allow for Fair Use.

    If that's the case, then over 90% of the site/users violated the policy. I'm still in the appeal process, so I'll let you guys know who and what exactly caused it to happen.

    Polish Tamales on
  • EsseeEssee The pinkest of hair. Victoria, BCRegistered User regular
    edited May 2012
    I'm pretty sure it's totally possible for someone to report your images for any number of things on DA and have them taken down out of an abundance of caution (especially when someone's reporting you for copyright violation). I wouldn't jump to the conclusion that this has anything to do with the actual content that was taken down unless I actually saw some of the content and it really looked like you were ripping a company off. The art you have up in your gallery doesn't look even remotely like you're stealing MtG art and posting it, so unless you were stealing from another person on DA I would expect this to be a B.S. report from someone who doesn't like you. I know this sort of stuff happens sometimes (I've been on DA since I was in middle school) and considering how huge the site is, it's now probably very possible for a "copyright infringement" to get taken down until it's been appealed. Also, anybody who knows anything about DA knows it's full of massive amounts of fanart, which I believe falls under "Fair Use", so that's really not the problem here. There's a whole category for it when you go to submit your art and everything.

    Don't worry about any of this stuff until you hear back from whichever DA admins take a second look at your stuff. If they still think you you're violating policy, they'll also tell you WHY you're violating policy, and then you can either ask them how to make your stuff comply or come back here and see if H/A has any more ideas about the same subject.

    Edit: I do agree that the whole "promoting an unofficial business that sells official cards" thing could be an issue here, but only DA can tell you whether they have a problem with you doing that or not. I would bet they don't even know anything about that part though.

    Essee on
  • Polish TamalesPolish Tamales Registered User
    Cool beans man. I'll let you guys know what's up.

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