Saturday, February 26, 2011

So, Some Bloke Threatened to Sue Me...

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

Some of you might have noticed the little drama playing out in the tagbox in my site's sidebar with one Graham Barclay but that was what they would call the tip of the iceberg - the best bits occurred offline through a brief frictional e-mail exchange.

You are running one of my photographs on your Flikr page
without permission or prior consent.

The image in question is located at the following URL:

This is a clear breach of my copyright and tantamount to theft as it is my

If you choose to ignore this notification and fail to remove it I will
pursue this matter to the full extent of the law and instruct my lawyers.

This will inevitably result in your having to pay large amounts of money out.

So, in the first instance I'm requesting 'politely' that you remove this
image at once.

I hope therefore hope you will decide to make the right decision on this

Yours faithfully,
Graham Barclay

He's was referring to a picture of genius comic book writer and professional weirdo, Alan Moore, which I used in my review of a film adaptation of one of his masterpieces, Watchmen. Note the quotation marks around the word "politely", put there by the author of the e-mail himself. Aside from this, he also left a sarcastic remark in my tagbox, attempting to coax compliance from me by bringing up my occupational field and making insinuations about how I'm not living up to its standards. He said: "Would have though as a medic you may have been slightly more clued up to be honest!"

Anyway, it took me all of one minute to Google another picture of Alan Moore to replace Allegedly Polite Lawsuit Guy's copyrighted property.

Dear sir,

Done. But "polite" must have a different meaning where you are from. I apologise for using your photograph without prior permission but I was under the impression that fair use under reporting and reviews - the category which blogs typically fall under - renders my utilisation of said picture legit (I may be wrong in assuming so, of course, not being a lawyer). I've made no direct profits from my use and indeed, my site is quite evidently a limited and personal online journal. Besides, the picture uploaded in my Flikr account also carried the subtext crediting the source (i.e. you). Do you also want to look into my Facebook, Friendster and Myspace accounts in case I had also griveously robbed you of your work within those media?

Hugs and kisses.

Yours in brotherly love,

Yes, I'm kind of a dick and I rub people the wrong way, but methinks I'm hardly alone here in this regard. Anyway, his reply was,

I would consider that I've been perfectly 'polite' in my request. As does my legal representative. The fact that you have made no revenue from one of my pictures is of no consequence whatsoever. If you would like me to clarify the legality and definitions thereof I would be more than happy to do so. The rights to this image are mine. Period. That does not mean you are able to include them on your pages for any reason without permission and or licensing.

I have tried to be reasonable in my request and given you the option to remove the work. If you have done this, thank you very much, however your sarcastic tone is rather unnecessary, particularly as you've broken the law and I'm giving you a break!

Please be aware that there are very few among us who would have afforded you this luxury!

Yours sincerely,
Graham Barclay

Here, he's playing the "Hey-I'm-one-of-the-good-guys" card. I love that bit where he went, "... b-b-b-but me and my lawyer think I was polite!"

Dear Sir,

On the internet where many intellectual properties are frequently duplicated, often past the second, third or fourth parties, it can be sometimes difficult to trace the source of any material and to ascertain if the copyright owners allow sharing (with or without attribution). This is particularly true of images pulled from search engines. I have had real, genuinely polite requests from owners of material I have used to either (a) credit them or to (b) remove said material - all without threats of lawsuits or sly, sarcastic insinuations regarding my character. I have gracefully complied in all those instances with narry a peep. You may be technically and lawfully in the right, but I felt you have not had the courtesy to extend me the benefit of the doubt that perhaps (surprise! surprise!) I had no actual dishonest intentions in using your photograph (and my intention, if you want clarification, is to merely share the content of my blog with my friends) or am merely unclear on the minutiae of fair use rights. Simply put, threatening to sue and underhanded insults in the tagbox of my blog are not considered to be polite, at least where I'm from. Sarcasm, I felt, is precisely the appropriate response. There are no legal requirements for me to be meek, humourless and utterly straitlaced in complying with your request, however rightful. And I do recognise your magnanimity in giving me the option to remove the work (which very few among you, apparently, would do). You are clearly the soul of generousity.

Again, I apologise if I have caused you any problems, monetary loss or traumatising emotional distress with my terrible and criminal behaviour.


I am aware that it's fully within his right to request his work to be removed from my blog - I have nothing against doing that. There's a cyberspace out there full of Alan Moore's mugshots with originators who are far more blasé about this sort of thing after all. Personally, I allow anyone at all to re-use my writings, photographs and graphics so long as they credit me (or not, as the case usually is) because trying to fight the internet is kind of a Sisyphean exercise. But I'm not generous like Mister Barclay, Afforder of Luxuries, of course.

Now, we'll just wait and see if Mister Barclay takes umbrage at my publication of our private electronic correspondence without his permission. If he does, I might be forced to edit this post and paraphrase everything he said (which can potentially be a lot of fun, I must admit).

P.S. I heard the libel laws in the UK are particularly archaic and draconian. I had been following the Simon Singh versus the British Chiropractic Association case with great interest.

Pirate most heinous,
k0k s3n w4i


Phoebs said...

the 'traumatizing emotional distress' part made me giggle very loudly xD

Dr.Vishaal Bhat said...

Apparently your brother here has been living under a stone :) . Why bring lawyers into the picture, when just a polite request would have sufficed! I too recently had a similar problem, though, not due to a mistake of mine.

I received a few pictures in my mail from a regular and put it up on my blog. However it turned out that they were cropped pictures of someone else's portfolio (the credit was cropped out). The owner left a note on the blog and i had it changed with due apology in public. All is well now :) ...

Mister Graham Barclay needs a course in etiquette :)

nis said...

this dude must be really a stuck up person in real life.
he doesn't sound polite at all.

well, cheers. pls concentrate on your exam for now.

nicoletta said...

that was a delightful exchange! Do keep us updated =)

c3rs3i said...

I assume you will have validated that he is indeed the rightful copyright owner?

I have a couple other things to say but I have no interest in being subpoenaed as a witness should things go awry so I'll sit this one out *sad* :\

Liz ^^, said...

How very interesting ! And rather entertaining as well, I must admit. :D By golly, I wish I could respond to his very "polite" emails as wonderfully full of wit as you did ! Bravo, indeed !!! :D *applause*

p.s: Please do update us on what happens next (his response to you posting your correspondence on your blog particularly) !!! :P

Vin Tsen Gan said...

Well, as a law enthusiast (do we even exist?) cum student , I can confidently assure you that Sir Graham Bell over there will not be able to take any action against you, legal or otherwise.

Firstly, it is relatively unreasonable for him to spend a few hundred quids (assuming that he is one of those pompous, loud and irritating Englishman who currently resides in England and observes the common law) just so he could get some random asian dude to remove a photograph uploaded online that is alleged to be "rightfully" his. Fees for filing a claim through solicitors is enough to feed a few famished Nigerian families. Let's not even start on the cost that he will incur should his complain succeed.

Secondly, there is a fair chance the court might throw this case out and knock Mr. Polite on his head. This case is absurd and a blatant waste of the court's time. Do note that courts don't have the time to ask someone else to remove a photograph from his blog because some lad with a fancy English name claims to hold credential over it. Mr. Polite will be asked to file his complaint somewhere else, eg. the cry baby's tribunal.

Thirdly, what kind of name is Graham Barclay anyway?

p.s. There is no need for long-winded incomprehensible meaningless legal jargons to rebut matters like this. Common sense tells us that this lawsuit is fairly impossible, that is if we have any.

yuhhui said...

hmm..maybe im bit blur.. but i don't see any copyrighted sign in that picture also?

Rewarp said...

Can you give me the link so that I can post it in 4chan?

/hint hint

k0k s3n w4i said...

Phoebs: why did you spell "traumatising" with a 'z'?

Dr.Vishaal Bhat: well, lawyers is what some folks have instead of courtesy ;)

nis: yes, boss.

nicoletta: i'm afraid that's it. show's over :(

c3rs3i: well, i had the copyright owner written in the pictures subtext when i uploaded it to flickr - and i'm quite certain the person who corresponded with me was he. besides, who else would give a shit anyway, right?

Liz ^^,: i doubt there's going to be anymore follow up e-mails. it was unpleasant enough for both of us to repeat it, i'm sure.

Vin Tsen Gan: that was my line of thinking as well, but i'm not so big a dick that i will continue running a picture that don't belong to me when its owner expressed his disapproval. like i said, it took me all of one minute to google a replacement. my sole objection was his tone. i would have understood his action if i'm running some genuine publication - but for pete's sake it's a personal blog! just ask! real politeness can really oil things up.

yuhhui: the pic's already removed. besides, a pic having no watermarks doesn't nullify its copyright.

Rewarp: nah, it's just a minor online dick-measuring contest. besides, i was technically in the wrong ;) besides, you can never be sure which side anonymous will take. they are chaotic neutral after all.

Phoebs said...

so sue me coz i didn't quote you properly =d