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The Director of National Intelligence alters Cagle cartoon

The Director of National Intelligence Lt. General James R. Clapper has allegedly altered a Daryl Cagle cartoon during a presentation. The Washington Post reports:

A final slide showed he was under no illusions about the pressure and expectations he faced. He had adapted a cartoon by Daryl Cagle of Slate.com depicting a grim Clapper in an Uncle Sam hat at the wheel of a car, labeled ?Leading the IC: A Re-set.? The car is packed with children imploring: ?Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet??

Cagle has responded on his blog:

What happened to the Obama Administration?s professed respect for copyrights?  There is little more offensive to an editorial cartoonist than to have his cartoon stolen and altered to make a different point.

Community Comments

#1 Ben McCormick
August/24/2010
@ 1:39 pm

I agree that having your work altered to make a completely different point and used without permission is a slap in the face to an editorial cartoonist. And while I in no way condone such action, I have to say that this kind of thing happens in presentations (both military and civilian) all of the time. I saw things like this all of the time during my time in the military and afterwards in corporate America.

I’m not sure what could be done to stop it but I think it’s a little lopsided to make a swipe at the Obama administration about it.

#2 Ted Rall
August/24/2010
@ 8:32 pm

Obama ought to fire him. If he’s willing to break federal law and international copyright conventions so flagrantly, how is he abusing the awesome powers at his disposal?

#3 Dave Stephens
August/24/2010
@ 9:01 pm

We can put a STOP to this.

It’s simple: Outlaw Photoshop.

Other than that, it will continue to happen everywhere, in every office, every cubicle, in more presentations than there are grains of sand on the shore…

The problem is, Photoshop makes it so darn easy. In 2 minutes, ANYONE’S head can go anywhere…

#4 Pab Sungenis
August/24/2010
@ 10:35 pm

Would Daryl have been so vicious about defending his copyright if it were a politician he actually liked doing it?

#5 Howard Tayler
August/24/2010
@ 10:51 pm

Oh, for crying out loud.

Copyright violations aren’t hurting cartoonists. OBSCURITY is hurting cartoonists.

Please, use my stuff for your presentation. I’ll only complain if you start charging money for the slides, and even then all I’m going to ask for is a cut.

#6 Ted Rall
August/25/2010
@ 4:27 am

@Dave: Yes, it’s easy to break the law. Because knives are readily available, I can easily stab you. But the answer isn’t to ban knives. The answer is to ban stabbing. And so it is.

The copyright law is clear. If 18-year-old kids can be expected to know that downloading music illegally is, well, illegal–and fined accordingly–surely the Director of National Intelligence can be expected to know not to misrepresent and vandalize the artwork of a political cartoonist’s copyright-protected intellectual property.

@Howard: It is your right to dispose of your work as you see fit. If you want to let people alter your work, you may. Similarly, Daryl enjoys the right to control his work as *he* sees fit. If he doesn’t want the DNI to alter his work and use it illegally, I don’t see how that hurts you.

Further, it is obviously more harmful to an editorial cartoonists, whose opinions are his or her stock in trade, to have his or work misrepresented, than cartoonists who work in other genres.

What the DNI has done here is plainly illegal and immoral. It is no different than if he had held up a store with a gun. The fact that what he stole is intellectual property makes no difference.

Since public officials are expected to uphold the highest standards of probity and decency, he ought to resign from public life in perpetuity. And if cartoonists, of all people, can’t see that–well, I don’t know what to say.

#7 James Ratterree
August/25/2010
@ 7:28 am

TED RALL, you are coming off as a bit of an ass.

No he shouldn’t have altered the art. But have him fired? Whatever. This type of thing goes on in the business world every single day. Mainly because people do not really understand copyright law, or they so often say, “This is only internal anyway.”, that they let their little voice go silent.

Bash the guy for the miscue and hopefully he will learn. Hopefully it will be an example for those under the, “I found it on the internet, so I can do what I want.” misconception.

However, over-ranting makes everyone want to lump you with the doomsayers with the sandwich boards after a while. Make your point and use this as an example to educate vs trying to be Che.

#8 Howard Tayler
August/25/2010
@ 7:40 am

What the DNI has done here is plainly illegal and immoral. It is no different than if he had held up a store with a gun. The fact that what he stole is intellectual property makes no difference.

Ted, what you’re doing is no different than if you had raped a toddler while wearing a Pol Pot mask. The fact that what you’re violating is rational discussion makes no difference.

#9 Howard Tayler
August/25/2010
@ 7:46 am

Cagle’s response would be shrewder if he sent the DNI a bill for the use of the image as part of his presentation. Charge standard rates, and send a copy of the bill to the Post.

That might actually get coverage, and raise the issue of “terms of use” in ways that people will actually understand it. It’s also possible that Cagle will end up with a customer who regularly pays to include Cagle toons in gov’t slide decks.

Ranting from moral high ground and drawing crazy parallels between corporate powerpoint and armed robbery? WASTE OF TIME.

#10 Tom Wood
August/25/2010
@ 8:13 am

Howard: Copyright violations aren?t hurting cartoonists. OBSCURITY is hurting cartoonists.

There is a discussion among authors who self-publish ebooks about whether or not to apply DRM ‘protection’ to the ebook files. The same argument is made that new authors suffer more from obscurity than piracy. Consensus in the forums for new authors (and some not so new) is that DRM is a mistake. (Not surprisingly, readers hate DRM because it locks them into one format/device.) Most ebooks have a plea at the front that asks the reader to buy the book if they are using a pirated copy.

Cagle isn’t an unknown, but any publicity is good publicity. I’d guess his publicist is having a ball with this story.

#11 Ted Rall
August/25/2010
@ 8:17 am

If we don’t respect ourselves, we can’t expect anyone else to respect us.

@James: Only children have trouble understanding copyright law. It is an extremely simple concept. Contrary to your statement, this sort of thing does not happen among business professionals, since business professionals have lawyers who tell them not to pull such idiotic and risky stunts.

Moreover, we’re talking about a public official here. Not some sleazy copyright-stealing businessperson.

@Howard: Asking for a “standard usage fee” is ridiculous. The guy STOLE Daryl’s private property. Worse than that, he misrepresented something as though it was Daryl’s work. If I break into your home and steal your TV, should I have to pay nothing more than the cost of what it would cost to replace a used TV?

A crime was committed. A fairly serious one. Punishment, not just compensation, is appropriate and fair.

#12 Mike
August/25/2010
@ 8:17 am

T can’t remember the specifics, but years ago in BNCOC (The Army’s Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course) for Army Graphic Designers (yes, that is a real job in the army) they told us that there was bit of leeway for bending copyrights in government presentations. It was a long time ago, so I really don’t remember the details, I just remember the subject being discussed. At any rate, it diesn’t seem to much harm was done as the changed artwork wasn’t done for profit. I can understand though, how the cartoonist would be annoyed.

#13 Scott Kurtz
August/25/2010
@ 8:23 am

With all our differences, I can’t believe this is one subject where all cartoonists don’t see eye to eye.

It’s one thing to find out a CEO or teacher used a cartoon without permission during a keynote presentation.

Daryl had is work used without permission, by the Director of National Intelligence, and altered to mean something different than intended.

You would be pissed if it happened to you. It’s really crappy. How can you not sympathize?

#14 August J. Pollak
August/25/2010
@ 8:23 am

This brings me back to 2008 when all those bands were furious that the McCain campaign kept using their songs without licensing or permission. Heart actually threatened to sue Sarah Palin if she kept using “Barracuda” as her theme song.

Look, copyright law and rights and all that are constantly a debate. And nowhere does it get more heated and borderline ridiculous than internet debates about it. But regardless of what action is taken over it it seems detrimental to act as if this wasn’t the wrong thing to do. Taking the cartoon is bad enough but altering it is just an insult.

Cagle should at the very least make as much publicity over this as possible. Personally I think the best “penalty” for the government office for stealing his cartoon is recognizing that offering Cagle X amount of money for his cartoon would probably have been a better deal then the negative flak they can and should end up getting for this.

#15 Jim Lavery
August/25/2010
@ 8:45 am

As history shows us, Hitler used to do this all the time

#16 Terry LaBan
August/25/2010
@ 9:48 am

It’s true! He drew little mustaches on them.

#17 Jerry Zee
August/25/2010
@ 9:49 am

Hello? Tempest in a teapot.

#18 Howard Tayler
August/25/2010
@ 9:59 am

Daryl Cagle has a FAQ about using Cagle toons for stuff. It doesn?t list prices, but it?s pretty clear that you?re expected to pay.

http://www.politicalcartoons.com/faq.aspx

He ALSO has a page suggesting that the political cartoonists in his syndicate are available for hire.

Clearly Cagle has every right to be morally outraged at how his work was treated by the DNI, but I believe he and his cartoonists would be much better served by simply sending the DNI a bill.

For how much? Could one of Cagle?s artists have been hired to repurpose existing art to serve the needs of the DNI?s presentation? Certainly! Or a new piece could have been created from scratch. With either approach, it would have been truer to the artist and likely better for the presentation had the DNI gone that route.

SEND THEM A BILL. Brush the legal issue aside with an acknowledgement that Cagle Toons has the moral high ground here, but in a noble gesture is willing to settle for pretending that the DNI did the right thing from the beginning.

Demanding blood, or issuing a lawsuit just makes Cagle look like the MPAA/RIAA, and even a legal victory will be a loss in the court of public opinion.

#19 Ted Rall
August/25/2010
@ 10:28 am

Clapper ought not to be sued. It’s too expensive.

He ought to be fired.

#20 James Ratterree
August/25/2010
@ 11:13 am

TED RALL: Only children have trouble understanding copyright law. It is an extremely simple concept. Contrary to your statement, this sort of thing does not happen among business professionals, since business professionals have lawyers who tell them not to pull such idiotic and risky stunts.

Moreover, we?re talking about a public official here. Not some sleazy copyright-stealing businessperson.
—-

JR: True, it doesn’t take much to realize using someone’s creation without approval isn’t right, but the weight of the law is misunderstood by most was my point.

I will disagree whole-heartedly with “..this sort of thing does not happen with business professionals…” I fight misuse routinely in both lack of knowledge about copyright and downright lack of intillectual discrimination. In business it doesn’t take talent to get to the top, just sales and BS. So quality morals and logic are quite rare.

Usually when I run into this issue with an in-house ‘client’ I use the phrase, “We could by sued.”. Works every time.

I do understand your passion and all artists should do a better job of pointing out these flaws in understanding and logic. Copyright is barely infused in any business education past basic business class or a token ethics course. If you’ve taken either you realize copyright is probably better undstood by artists than businessmen.

#21 Jacquie Roland
August/25/2010
@ 12:11 pm

Someone is in trouble, but it’s probably one of the folk’s in the art department. Under the gun, the artist probably remembered the Cagle cartoon, and glommed onto it, thinking ( if the artist was thinking ) that no one would notice. No way would the Director of National Intelligence get anywhere near that presentation, until he was handed a script. The cartoon got past the writers, the art department, the head of the art department, and the head’s boss. The slide show was ok’d by Clapper’s staff, as well. Someone should have realized along the way, that there was a copyright violation, but they did not. A lot of sound and fury could be headed off at the pass now by someone on staff contacting Cagle, and offering payment and an apology.

The fact that the cartoon was signed by someone not on staff was a dead give away of a possible infringement, and should have raised red flags… but I wasn’t there. “The Government”,
this one and previous ones, are VERY aware of the problems that something like this could, and has, caused, and it would have been avoided like the plague.

#20, James Ratterree’s last paragraph is quite true, though. Most business folk haven’t a clue about copyrights, and unless you say, as both Mr Ratterree and I have evidently done … “We might be sued” they just don’t get it. Raise the “S” word, and even if they don’t quite understand it… it’s “next slide, please”…

So someone made an “OOPS!” … Now make amends.

#22 Jerry Zee
August/25/2010
@ 1:02 pm

Pop music has been ripped off by the GOP for unauthorized campaign use:

http://downwithtyranny.blogspot.com/2010/06/republican-politicians-preach-property.html

Monty Python has been ripped off by a former US Attorney running for Governor of NJ:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/martin-lewis/chris-christie-rips-off-m_b_341598.html

I think cartoonists are last in line as far as lawsuits go. It depends how deep Cagle’s pockets are, if he wants to pursue this.

#23 Tom Wood
August/25/2010
@ 1:34 pm

Cagle’s publicist should be trying to get Daryl on Fox News to express his outrage. Then he should say stuff that is totally subversive to the Fox audience. Hits to his site would go through the roof.

#24 Mike Peterson
August/25/2010
@ 7:51 pm

According to the WashPost story, this was a presentation to his senior staff. I’m not sure how many people that is, but I think that, once this case has been resolved, the next great profit gambit for aggrieved cartoonists to go building-to-building suing people for posting cartoons on their cubicle walls that have names of co-workers and arrows added to them.

And, while Daryl deserves the lion’s share of this massive settlement, since it was his actual art that got drawn on, I think he should divide the rest of the money into equal parts and share it out with every cartoonist who has done an “Are we there yet?” cartoon. The general would have to run TV ads as part of the settlement — “Have you used this idea? If so, you may be entitled … “

#25 Karyl Miller
August/25/2010
@ 8:26 pm

Years ago my short letter to the editor of the LA Times was edited so that the OPPOSITE opinion was expressed with my name attached. I’m still mad about it.

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