I have innocently, un-intentionally, inadvertently exposed a few raw nerves of individuals who perceive their blogs as extensions of themselves. (Much like young American males in the 1960s of driving age perceived their souped up custom cars as extensions of themselves.) As a result, I myself have become the victim of an online hate campaign.
In one instance, I called a blogger's attention to a problem loading a blogpage which I suspected might be tied to a pop-up ad or a virus. Instead of a thank-you, I was rewarded with a flip-out.
In another, I spoke up for a young woman who had been brutally slandered and victimized with a display of obscene photographs composited by two bloggers, one female from Malaysia, one male from the USA. (checkout the awful picture below!)
In the most recent, a blogger mistook an interpretation of traffic results as a direct insult. That was never the intention.
Online "wars" between bloggers are not uncommon. Ask A-List bloggers Xiaxue, Perez hilton and Michelle Malkin
I can't help it if people are dumb. I'm a dumb looney myself, sometimes!
Rather than ask "who put this fish in my hat," I must look at the upside to this online tiff. My traffic has increased 200% since my links have been appearing in hateblogger posts.
Another issue that's been brought forward involves use of a photo of one blogger Twerlyn that was posted on Facebook. Before the picture was on facebook, it was posted elsewhere on the web. And what about the horrifying way another blogger, Zuveena's pictures were used in an online hate camapign that would have impressed al-Qaeda?
Are the usages of those photos copyright infringement or fair use?
U.S. Copyright law is and always has been a balance between the rights of original creators and the rights of the public and subsequent creators (and re-creators, or 're-imaginers' as they like to call themsleves) to use copyrighted material. No one single individual person ever has full absolute rights under law to control every instance involving a copyrighted work. This applies to you, me, Lainy, Emila Yusof, The New York Times, Google -- everybody, period. For instance, you can take some content from this blog post and copy it into your own blog post or email or onto a forum for the purposes of commenting on what I have published. This can be done without my permission and without even attributing it to me or linking to my URL.
This balance is codified in the Copyright Act in Sections 106 (exclusive rights) and 107 (fair use). Section 106 says that reproduction and display of another's copyright image can be infringement (Let's avoid terms like "theft" and "stealing" as they generally do not map well to nonrivalrous concepts like intellectual property) and therefore illegal. But then, Section 107 tells us that "notwithstanding Section 106", there are certain kinds of reproductions and displays that are fair use and therefore, not an infringement or illegal -- even when used without the express permission or attribution of the copyright owner. Such uses include but are not limited to parody, criticism, commentary, news reporting, educational use, etc.
There is also the question of "parody." If a drawing or photo is taken and alterations are made via photoshop or other means in order to convey a point via parody or satire, that is okay.To determine whether a particular use is a fair use, courts look at four main factors, including (1) the purpose of the use, (2) whether the original work was published and/or fictional, (3) the amount of the work taken, and (4) the potential harm to the market for the original work. Factors 1 and 4 are generally considered the most important.
So what would a court think of the two blogger's (Mariuca and David Funk) use of Zuveena's photos on the collaborative "block the bitch zuveena" blog project (which has since been taken down)? Hard to say for sure, but in the end, it probably is a fair use.
And while perhaps not a direct parody of Zuveena and her specific work, the inclusion of her photographs in the BTBZ blog was part of an overall commentary on the world that these particular bloggers write about and the people in it. One could even argue that Zuveena is a part of that world herself and thus, implicitly part of the subject matter Mariuca & Funk intended to comment on. (Note: I haven't communicated with either one of them, so I have no idea what they intended). Some courts have found fair use in similar cases involving Barbie dolls (think NICKI MINAJ - but keep in mind that, in her case, she uses Barbie without actaully using Barbie, i.e., she's pushed the envelope as far as possible legally, and there's nothing the Barbie copyright holder can do, because technically there is no violation!), tv cartoon parodies of living personalities (just an example -Stephen Hawkings on South Park - I don't believe that particular parody landed in court), and 2 Live Crew's cover of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman." Then again, other courts have ruled differently, like the decision involving the use of Dr. Seuss-like rhymes in a book about the OJ Simpson murder trial.
CONCLUSION ::: Let freedom ring, let people say what they will say... it's an open arena, as long as it is a NON-VIOLENT ARENA.