Last month, Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett posted the above cartoon. It was swiped and tinkered with by someone called @AlShyster on Twitter:
When Clay got angry about the theft, the changing of the meaning of the cartoon and the deletion of his signature, he posted about it on Twitter and got a nasty response with a legal threat.
a fair use article on the Smith, Gambrell and Russell LLP attorneys at law web site.
Here's Clay from his Facebook page:
THIS IS UNBELIEVABLE!
The other day I noticed that someone on Twitter had taken one of my cartoons, removed my signature, and altered the image so that it expressed an opinion that was antithetical to my own.
I reported it to Twitter, which has moved at its usual snail's pace to take down the image. So, at this point, this transgression is still unresolved.
[What transpired next is included in the images included]
I exposed the perpetrator on Twitter itself, admonishing him to "Think up your own ideas (if your capable). Stop stealing and altering my cartoons, @AlShyster #IntellectualPropertyTheft"
The fact that he didn't immediately take down the image didn't surprise me, but what did take me aback was the threatening tone of his response. After posting a spurious argument as to why his thievery falls under the 'fair use' exception to the copyright laws, he added that "Any inappropriate response is actionable in civil court."
He steals my work, removes my signature, alters my cartoon's content, and then threatens to sue ME if I take any recourse to rectify the situation?
This is crazy.
I understand the lay of the land nowadays, and I rarely assert control over my work if its used without permission. After all, I'm not in this business to make money as much as to make an argument. But when that very argument gets turned on its head by some douchebag whose only talent seems to be a nominal skill at using PhotoShop, that's when my patience ends.
If any of you are on Twitter, maybe you could take a few minutes to tell @AlShyster what you think of him. I would be greatly appreciative.