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Peanutweeter ordered to be taken down

Earlier I linked to another mashup-up site taking Peanuts characters and matching them with tweets. Tumblr, the hosting company for the mashup received a letter from Iconix Brand Group who holds the copyright for Charles Schulz creation, ordering the company to take down the site because it violated copyright. Tumblr removed the site.

T. Jason Agnello, who started the comic mashup clearly stated from the beginning on the site that he believed his work fell under fair use parody, but told Wired, “I don’t have the legal might to argue it. Nor do I wish for the stress in doing so.”

Jason has posted information on the fallout of the take-down. In the 10 weeks he was posting on the blog, he amassed 3700+ Twitter followers and 3000+ Tumblr followers.

You can read the take down order, some guy named Patrick has written a defense arguing that the blog was parody and therefore a legally fair use, read Jason more detailed reasons why he’s not fighting Tumblr or Iconix, and of course you can still follow Peanutweeter on Twitter.

Community Comments

#1 Anne Hambrock
June/20/2011
@ 8:44 am

There is quite a difference between mentioning a character for purposes of parody and stealing a character (that has not even been redrawn) and inserting your own material into that character’s mouth.

Mad Magazine has lampooned famous characters for years but A) the characters are drawn by Mad’s artists rather than lifted out of original artist’s drawings and B) the topic of the parody is the characters themselves.

A franchise as large and powerful as Peanuts has lawyers who certainly understand the legal conditions of fair use better than any mash up artist, as well as the clout and legal might to make this distinction clear.

Unfortunately, those of us further down the food chain have more difficulty in this area and are currently at the mercy of all these so called “artists” who don’t even have the skills to think of and draw their own characters.

#2 Stephen Beals
June/20/2011
@ 9:00 am

That’s what leaped to my mind, Anne. There’s a huge difference between what MAD does and what this guy was doing. That’s like me taking an episode of Seinfeld, adding my own soundtrack and character voices, and then saying “Hey, it’s parody!” There’s no way I would expect to get away with that.

#3 Jim Lavery
June/20/2011
@ 9:27 am

…and a parody would be a one-shot deal, not a regular feature. This is known as theft. Things like this need to be clamped down on because they can really do harm to the original work.

#4 Brien J. Miller
June/20/2011
@ 12:05 pm

There is, in my view, a disturbing trend in all this, one that appears to have already taken firm root that, through potential legal evolution, could have deeper ramifications. This trend, perhaps originally stemming out of the modern day music scene (dance, trance, house and similar styles) asserts that just because technology permits it, it is simply accepted that one can sample and ?mash up? whole segments of other?s work. Whether it is a simple rift, to perhaps entire stanzas, the ?re-creation – re-visioning ? re-crafting? of original works by others has become, among a growing number of people, seemingly fair game.

Now, it?s not so much the act of doing so that disturbs me, for there will always be those who push such bounds for whatever reason (art or profit), but rather the broader responses of so many whom I hear and read online, which appears to widely accept (sine cognita) that there is indeed, an ephemeral natural law that assigns digital technology the grace, leeway, and even the right to do so, without question.

That this trend has clearly crossed out of music into other arts is established; in some venues, I should dare say, plagiarism has gone from a state of disrepute to its own elevated art form. I admit, some of it is as well intentioned as it is clever, but still it is, in truth, the theft of intellectual labor and property often well outside the bounds of the fair-use clause.

As noted above by Anne Hambrock, when one has the power of financial strength, one can defend their ground well (even without firm legal cause- look up ?Slap Suit? for a further entertaining reading). But when one does not have that firm footing, such as most starting/subsistence artists and authors experience, then the ability to defend their own is imperiled in the bow wave this growing assumed right of the ?mashers.?

The mind set could very well portend worse. As the laws of copyright and patents evolve under pressure by such populism, as well as by large corporations seeking to push back the limits of public domain, established precedents may give way, not by visible stride, but rather by imperceptible creep. Indeed, the rights of individual authors could well dilute over the coming years, done in by a evolutionary combination of the inability to control the work once it is in public view, the growing popular acceptance of ?re-use? by others, and the fact that your rights maybe only equal to the amount of financial power you have.

That we live in the proverbial ?interesting times? is more apparent than ever.

#5 Brian Hagen
June/20/2011
@ 1:04 pm

Brien’s comment makes me wonder: if the duration of copyrights were shorter than the U.S. (author’s death + 75 years / 95 years from publication), would people be less likely to steal the work of living artists? I doubt it. Perhaps art has no perceived value in the culture because artists have no perceived value in the culture.

Or people take because it’s just so easy with technology.

I imagine this name is like waving a red cape in front of bulls, but I just got this from Nina “Sita Sings the Blues” Paley’s website: “The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing.”

Copyright and being paid for one’s intellectual property is coercion and extortion? Without money, where exactly does one get the time and breathing room to create?

#6 Mike Cope
June/20/2011
@ 1:34 pm

Making the Peanuts characters say something they would never say is like putting words in Sparky’s mouth. I’m not surprised at all. If it were any other comic strip, I’d still feel the same.

#7 Mike Peterson
June/21/2011
@ 3:36 am

Sad thing is, it wasn’t even groundbreaking plagiarism. I think the guys who mashup Neitzsche and Family Circus should send him a cease-and-desist, too.

#8 Dave Stephens
June/21/2011
@ 4:27 pm

Thank God that crap was STOMPED into the ground! Hurray for the true Creators!!

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