I couple of nights ago, I blogged about RobinHood Press and Nathaniel Hammel, a supposed "publisher" who has acknowledged using other artists' graphics on his site without their permission.
I also indicated that I had emailed him in outrage that commit such blatant copyright infringement. After exchanging several heated emails with this guy, I am become more and more convinced that 1) he is really, really stupid, and 2) he either doesn't understand copyright law, or doesn't care to understand, or both.
By way of warning fellow writers to stay away from this guy - and any graphic artists who run across this blog to check his site for their work! - I am going to reprint some of our email exchange here.
My first email to him consisted of the following:
I visited your site, where you say that the graphics are not all yours and that you don't remember where you got them. THEN DON'T USE THEM!
As a PUBLISHING COMPANY you ought to know that unless you paid the artist in a work for hire arrangement, YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO USE THOSE IMAGES. Giving acknowledgement to someone whose name you don't even remember doesn't make it any more legal. Even if you DID remember their name, it wouldn't be legal. The copyright belongs to the artist unless you have a contract with them that states otherwise.
I would never publish my work with someone who displays such blatant disregard for copyright law.
His response was littered with the same types of mistakes that I noted in my earlier post. More disturbing, though, it betrayed a huge lack of understanding for copyright law:
That is only true if I was useing their graphics to make money. I've read these laws before I posted anything, as long as I do not claim them to be mine it is legal. The sites and place; however that I do go to, are sites where alot of people share pics, and most of them do not have destination of who's they are. I think too, that Thiose artist would be pleased to note that their artwork was apreciated. When I read the law book of copyright, which you can get from www.loc.gov, will tell you you can not claim any artwork, writing, or copyrighted material, and states what you should post when your artwork is not yours.
Still in the hopes of making this guy understand that he really can't do what he is doing, I wrote back with a summary of the "fair use" doctrine, which I got from the very site he sent me to:
You need to reread your copyright law. You probably should hire a lawyer to help you understand it.< Use the falls under the definition of "fair use" is the ONLY way you can use someone else's work without permission. "Fair use" is defined by copyright law to be "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research."
Your site definitely does not fall under these categories.
Copyright law also states that these factors should be used in determining whether use is "fair" or copyright infringement:
"(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
"(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
"(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
"(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work."
I have news for you - a website IS commercial, meaning that you have violated the first point.
You are publishing the entire images (after all, you can't quote art), which is a violation of the third point.
Additionally, you are publishing those artists' work, which could affect their ability to publish or sell the artwork in the future. Therefore, you've also violated the fourth point.
Your disregard for copyright law is as astounding as your refusal to read it correctly. There is absolutely no way that your use of these artists' work is fair.
His response indicated something much more serious than a misunderstanding of the law: a refusal to see it any other way, not to mention a complete disregard for other people's rights:
First off, you are being very rude to the artists, I have never recieved any complaints before and you are intittled to your oppinion, but I must point out you just verified my point the last time, I have not published the images, only shared pictures or images there is nothing wrong with that. I also do not claim any picture to be mine. I do not make any money off other's art work, and if you have seen my sight and the copyright guide I have posted. Now I am a Publisher and Printer, I have created a site for poeple to share their works for free, and invited you to do so. Lets say you have a poem out there and I come accross it, I can post it, and If i don't know it's yours, all I have to do is write at the bottom "Anonymous" and it would be legal.
You are talking to a person who went to school for 4 years to help become what I am today. Sorry you have taken offence and you may do what you please. And... I want to point out something elso for you, I could have Copyrighted my web-site but didn't, because my web-site is everyones!
Of course, by this point I am completely and utterly furious. I am reminded of something I read on Writers Weekly once, that there are people who think that everything on the Internet is free for the taking. This guy goes a step beyond that and says that the Internet is not real publishing...at the same time as he is apparently offering writers a chance to publish their work "for free" on his site.
I wrote the following response:
No, actually, you CAN'T post someone's poem if you run across it. It is NOT legal. And yes, posting writing and graphics on the Internet is PUBLICATION.
Unless you created the image or poem, or have a document stating that you own the copyright, or it came from a copyright-free site, YOU DON'T HAVE THE RIGHT TO PUBLISH IT.
Yet another point of copyright law that you obviously don't understand: you don't have to file with the copyright office for the work to be protected under copyright law. An artist or author automatically owns the copyright to any work he or she produces, without having to register it.
I am not at all being rude to the artists - I am protecting their rights. You should be ashamed of yourself. I guarantee your "publishing" business will never go anywhere if this is how you operate.
I also included a link to a Writers Weekly article on copyright law. I'd like to think he'll read it and realize the error of his ways, but I highly doubt that.
I do business on the Internet every day. I communicate with my clients via email and Internet, write content for them to post to the Internet, and keep several blogs. Despite this, I have had very little problem with people stealing (or trying to steal) my work.
Even so, Nathaniel Hammel and RobinHood Press serve as a sharp reminder that copyright infringers do exist. It's scary to think that some people are so nonchalant about stealing other people's work, and it's those people who make writers wary of posting anything to the Internet.
For those of you who are as infuriated as I am about this, I ask you to do the following things:
1) Write to Nathaniel Hammel and RobinHood Press to tell him that publishing other people's work without their permission is not okay! You can contact RobinHood Press on myspace or from his website.
2) Spread the word! Post on your own blog, send out a mass email, etc. - do whatever you do to get the word out about something important.
3) Tell every graphic artist you know that they had better check this guy's site and make sure their work isn't there - and tell them to pass the word on to their friends!
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