Just when you thought you’d seen it all…

July 7th, 2009 | Posted in General

… I ran across this yesterday courtesy of the Wisenhiemer cartoonist’s forum:

Hoo boy...

That’s right. This genius actually emailed the copyright owner of images he had stolen off said owner’s website, (using hotlinks and stealing his bandwidth no less) and threatened to SUE HIM unless he puts the images back up immediately. You can see more email fun and read the whole story here.

Honestly, I hope this is just an urban legend and the link above is a gag. Yes, there really are people that ignorant and uneducated about the basics of copyright operating businesses out there, but more shocking is the example of the unbelievable sense of ENTITLEMENT that people have over the content on the internet. It’s out there, it’s accessible… therefore it must be FREE. You would think it would be common sense that images on another person’s website are not your images, and you can’t just use them with impunity. Yet many people do because they can. The scary thing is that people think so little of it, and it doesn’t occur to them it is stealing.

The eventual resolution to this was the person who threatened legal action if the images he was stealing were not replaced so he could continue to infringe on the owner’s copyright did consult his lawyer, who promptly pointed out his mistake. According to the story I linked to above, the offender apologized to the copyright owner but then simply went out and found new images to infringe upon for his website.

All you can do is shake your head and lament the decline of civilization as we know it.

UPDATE- My pal Ed Steckley tells me this is a gag that has made the rounds in the last week or so just to get people worked up. I suspected it might be but then again I’ve seen some stupid things in my time.


  1. John V says:

    Wow, Tom. Unbelievable.
    I think this sense of entitlement comes from living in society where it is so easy to get things you want. When people download music or movies, the excuse used is often that the big studios are losing a few bucks which they’ll never miss anyway.

    However, many people seem to hold onto this feeling for every kind of intellectual property. Even though this situation turned out ok, I always feel pretty terrible when an artist gets ripped off like this.

  2. Brrr says:

    This is not as uncommon as one might think. Increasingly, people are taking the attitude that if it’s posted online, that makes it public property. I’ve had people insist to me “if I can Google it, I can use it, end of story”.

  3. That artist better put his images back up on his site pronto! I’d hate to see him get sued! 😉

    Yikes, that’s incredible.

  4. Vincenzo says:

    That has got to be a gag!!!…if not, it only proves once again that the world is totally insane!!!

  5. Kit Lively says:

    I saw that same Wisenhiemer link, and it is head-shakingly unbelievable. Even worse is the same article’s tidbit about the cartoonist who had a single-panel cartoon stolen for use on a restaurant chain’s menu; the owner of said chain refused to pay the cartoonist or remove the cartoon, but did offer him a free meal at his establishment!! Most people are crap.

  6. Mugshotz says:

    Oh I have no doubt something like this occurs on a regular basis. Maybe not this dramatic, or maybe the freeloader isn’t as forthcoming or hostile about it. The general respect for original artwork is in a free fall, and too often artists are not educated enough to understand what their rights and worth are. “oh it only takes you five or ten minutes to draw this” etc. is disheartening. Yes, but you are paying for the years of experience and studying it got us to be proficient. Not only the actual labor.

    We were always reminded in school about plagiarism when it come to school papers, but I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning it when it came to artwork or photographs. We’d just cut out photos from magazines or photocopy things for projects all throughout my elementry and high school classes.

    I appreciate your constant reminders of copyright laws, Tom, it’s a great service to our industry.

  7. George Cook says:

    Um…yeah. What can I say. I am sometimes amazed that there are just too damn many stupid people out there nowadays. If that letter wasn’t a gag, then someone must be pretty much brain dead…or something. I have no clue…


New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550

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