Recently, it came to our attention that we had accidentally used a piece of fan art in a collage we made for my Tropes vs Women in Video Games Kickstarter two years ago. Some of you have politely asked questions and expressed concern about this issue so I will do my best to clear things up here.
First, we would like to offer our sincerest apologies to Tammy for mistaking her Dragon’s Lair fan art for official promotional material two years ago when we created this remix collage. Her rendering of famed animator Don Bluth’s character Princess Daphne is so professional looking that we honestly thought it was official art used in the marketing of one of the dozens of Dragon’s Lair remakes and ports that have been released over the past 30 years. Compounding our confusion, Tammy’s image is used on many video game sites and forums without proper attribution to the artist and without indication that it is fan art. It was on one of these sites that we originally found the image which was grouped with many other official images of famous female gaming characters.
Feminist Frequency makes a point to try to not use fan art. Many fan artists are so talented that their creative works can look as good, if not better than the official versions. So we try our best to be diligent and make sure all media used is from the publishers and developers of the games discussed but occasionally we do make an honest mistake.
We use thousands of images in the creation of our video critiques and we rely on fair use to be able to do that. The fair use doctrine allows for the transformative re-use of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary, criticism, parody and education as provided for under section 107 of US Copyright law. As such fair use is a critical legal framework for free speech, after all it is what allows for fan artists to publish their creative works in the first place. Fair use is also what allows even large commercial entities (like Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, for example) to comment on and criticize media clips and images without asking for permission first.
We believe that our transformative use of Tammy’s fan art is a fair use under the law. However, since we honestly did not intend to use fan art in this case, we have voluntarily gone ahead and replaced the fan art in our old collage as a gesture of goodwill.
Unfortunately, there is now a staggering amount of misinformation about the Tropes vs Women project flying around the internet. It would take too long to correct all of the false rumors but I do want to clarify a couple of facts.
We take copyright and fair use concerns very seriously. As such, we took the necessary time to respond to Tammy’s concern in a proper and considerate manner. The reports that we ignored Tammy’s initial inquiry are entirely false. We have been in repeated contact with Tammy and have worked diligently to try and resolve this issue since we were first notified that the image in question was, in fact, fan art. We gathered our team together to discuss the issues and then responded as promptly as was possible. We did not see her “open letter” blog post until after we had already sent her our first response. We did not feel it would be appropriate or professional to publicly discuss this incident until a resolution could be reached.
Complicating matters was the fact that Tammy had recently been in direct social media communication with at least one individual who has participated in the doxxing of me, my team and my family. We do not believe Tammy had any knowledge of this person’s actions, but it necessitated additional caution on our part in dealing with this situation.
Finally, the Tropes vs Women project is a nonprofit endeavor. We never place ads on any of our episodes and always make our videos available for free to everyone on YouTube. For those that may be interested, Feminist Frequency is registered as a public-benefit nonprofit corporation in the state of California.
On a personal note, I’d also like to say that I love fan art and have been an ardent supporter of fan works for many years. I am a member of the Organization for Transformative Works, which advocates for and archives transformative fan works online. I highly recommend checking out their website and sending some support their way.
If you are interested in learning more about the fair use doctrine I recommend the following resources:
- Fair use guide by Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society
- Code of Best Practices in Fair Use by The Center for Media and Social Impact
Lastly, I’d like to extend a big thank you to all those who have continued to support me and my Tropes vs Women in Video Games project.
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