Legal Dramas…

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Art, Personal, Rant, Work
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

So today I received an email from RedBubble, the site where I sell all of my drawings and photography. (See here for more information)

This email was to inform me that three of my sketches have been removed, as they breached copyright. I have been ordered by Lucasfilms Pty. Ltd. to remove the pieces, and cease selling them.
Do I take this as a compliment, or a slap in the face?

I choose to take it as a compliment.

That said, I will not stop sharing the pieces, in fact I will post them in this post further down to show you what the argument is all about.
Firstly, I sketched these drawings myself, with a pencil and paper. I used inspiration from the internet that is freely available to use, some were even on Lucasfilm’s own website. These were then printed, and I drew the final pieces from scratch over the course of a few days each. So is this work breaching their copyright licenses, or are the pieces deemed original?
I have never claimed that these pieces were official releases, in fact I went to say that “the drawings were inspired by the cult Star Wars trilogy”. They were all clearly labelled “Pencil Drawing / Illustration” and was obviously NOT an officially released image of the characters.

The email I received reads as follows:

Dear Patrick

We are contacting you in accordance with the Redbubble policy, as a result of us having received a complaint from Lucasfilm Ltd., specifically naming the following content:

http://www.redbubble.com/people/axemangraphics/works/9106848-chewbacca
http://www.redbubble.com/people/axemangraphics/works/8341120-r2-d2
http://www.redbubble.com/people/axemangraphics/works/8065173-tusken-raider-sand-person

As you will be aware from our policy, Redbubble requires a certain amount of information before it acts on such a complaint, including that:

–          the relevant content is specifically named;

–          the complaint come from the owner of the respective rights (or someone authorised to act on their behalf); and

–          they have a good faith belief that the use of the relevant content is not authorised by the owner, its agent or the law.

On the basis of that information and in accordance with our agreement and policy with you, we’ve removed the above mentioned content from Redbubble.

If you believe that removal of the above content is the result of a mistake (for example, that you have authorisation) or misidentification, you can send us a counter notice. Such counter notice must provide the following information –

1.       an electronic or physical signature of the person authorised to act on behalf of the owner of the relevant matter;

2.       a description of the content which we have removed, including the URL on which the content was located on the Redbubble site;

3.       your address, telephone number, and email address;

4.       a statement by you that you consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court, Santa Clara County, California, United States and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notification described above or an agent of such person;

5.       a statement by you that, under penalty of perjury, you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled;

You can send a counter notice to dmca@redbubble.com

A sample counter notice can be viewed at http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca/counter512.pdf

Before providing such notice, you should be aware that we are obliged to inform the complainant that you have provided that notice (and provide a copy of your counter-notice to them) and that their next step would be to take court action against you in the United States.
Now to me this seems a little unfair. If I wanted to contest it, or question it, I would apparently be taken to court in the US system, which we all know is all about huge payouts for the already rich. So what avenues can I take? Well, obviously none. I was considering reuploading the artwork as a private item, so only I could purchase them as greeting cards, but I need to look into the legalities of that also.

The images in question are shown here:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

what do you guys think? Are these drawings really that bad? Are they really causing LucasFilms to lose money, and perhaps go without food on their tables?

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Comments
  1. C says:

    Hi!
    I’m sorry about what happened to you… I received the same e-mail today! I’m a toy photographer and post my stuff on Flickr, but I also have an account on RedBubble to make prints available to whomever would be interested in purchasing one.
    Well, they took down one of my Star Wars photos! ORIGINAL work by me, mind you!
    I’m so pissed… Perhaps I’ll delete my Redbubble account.

    Your drawings are Awesome! I think you are right: they are too good! So take it as a compliment, yes! 😉

    • I would love to see your photos, if you have them loaded anywhere else online?
      Redbubble are still good, they just did what the lawyers told them to do, so no ill will towards them…
      maybe now Star Wars belongs to Disney, the copyright will be a bit lax… 🙂

  2. […] fact came up when he saw a drawing of my artwork showing Chewbacca (see here for the post about THAT one being banned) He asked about what Chewbacca was, I told him, he admitted never seeing the films, and after a bit […]

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