Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Anita's Fanart Tomfoolery

Well here we are again. This morning I discovered another interesting revelation regarding Tropes vs. Women when an artist became aware of the project, and discovered she had contributed to it without realizing it.

UPDATE: I'll try to link to Tammy/Cowkitty's blogposts as this develops, which will be down below. In short so far there has been a small exchange between Tammy and Feminist Frequency, hopefully they'll work things out and as such I have nothing more to contribute to this topic. Now a few weeks later, Anita has apologized (although not without once again trying to paint her detractors in the worst light possible. Apparently it's our fault that Anita didn't do the right thing earlier) and done the right thing by removing the artwork.

Anita's Fanart Tomfoolery

So this promotional image is fairly familiar by now, right? It's the banner used during the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games campaign. We've got female characters from mostly promotional material from several different video game franchises lined up to show what the project is about.

Except it turns out the image of Princess Daphne from Dragon's Lair is not imagery from the game itself or promotional material for the game, but fanart created by Cowkitty in 2009 and used without permission for a commercial project. (Original image below in the sources section)

But let's not be too hasty. For all we know Cowkitty herself might have referenced from a piece of promotional material or a scene from the game, so to be entirely sure let's do an overlay to see how similar these two images are.

That's an exact match. So not only are your YouTube Let's Plays unsafe, there will also be no hesitation if you are an artist and you have an image Sarkeesian would like to use. Our gaming ambassador, everyone!

(NOTE: the following is not legal advice. It is based on a basic understanding between IP holder and the fan community)

You might be wondering: "But it's a fanart based on a copyrighted character. The original artist doesn't own the rights to the character anyway. How is this different from any of the other characters featured in the promo image?"

That doesn't take away the work put into crafting the image and the original touches unique to the artist. Copyright law might be a gray area when it concerns fanart, but there is more to it than just who the character belongs to. As such the artist still has rights when creating an image because it's their image. Those rights don't include someone else having the permission to take the work you put online to be used in a commercial project with the artist's watermark removed (it's also simply nice to ask before you take it from Google without sourcing). 
There's also still the issue that this was a paid project. The Tropes vs Women Kickstarter had $6,000 as an original goal, $158,922 as it's ultimate budget and apparently she couldn't even be bothered to ask anyone's permission regarding the content she stole.

How long until people finally hold her accountable for these things? This isn't about trying to undermine her arguments, this is about basic things regarding her questionable ethics and practices. Everyone makes mistakes, but please at least own up to them instead of trying to sweep them under the rug. The silence regarding all of these issues is more damning than the actual controversies.


Kickstarter: Tropes vs Women in Video Games

Princess Daphne Artwork (May 06, 2009)
How do I deal with my artwork being stolen? (March 05, 2014)
Twitter (March 05, 2014)
You Stole My Artwork: An Open Letter to Anita Sarkeesian (March 07, 2014)
(Update & official response) You Stole My Art: An Open Letter to Anita Sarkeesian (March 07, 2014)
(Update #3) You Stole My Artwork: An Open Letter to Anita Serkeesian - RESOLVED (March 17, 2014)