This is a news report and criticism:
On Sept. 29, BoingBoing blogger Xeni wrote a criticism of an advertisement by Ralph Lauren, stating,"Dude, her head's bigger than her pelvis."
Ralph Lauren's law firm has now threatened to sue the ISP of the website (along with Photoshop Disasters) for use of an "infringing image" and sent them a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice. Copyright law clearly outlines "fair use" as including work reproduced for "purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."
So here is the simple question, does copyright law give people the right to threaten critics? Even if Xeni is ultimately proven protected under copyright law, BoingBoing, the ISP and Xeni all have to pay a lawyer in order to respond to the take down notice which has a very clear and formal procedure of notice and counter notice (Chilling effects explains the procedure here). Of course this is Ralph Lauren ultimate strategy because in the future, critics will be less likely to criticize their brand because the cost is not worth it.
In fact, if Big Red and Shiny or anyone else that reproduce my blog, runs the image, they may receive a take down notice and have to hire a lawyer to reply to it, ultimately not making this report worth running. (We decided not to run it, and instead, have offered various links - ed.)
What about galleries, museums or artists that don't want negative reviews of their work? They can all send take down notices and effectively grind all criticism to a halt. In theory, as both a critical and news reporting publication, Big Red should be able to take any image from anywhere and reproduce it in any critical or news reporting article that is about the image. But in reality, Big Red has to be very careful because some images are simply not worth the required response to a take down notice.
Everything Ralph Lauren is doing is legal, just as it is perfectly legal for me to reproduce the image for reporting purposes on my blog and on Big Red. I say if every blogger joins with Xeni and BoingBoing and reports on this image, Ralph Lauren will be the one who can not afford to pay their lawyers to send out take down notices to everyone. As an added bonus, more people will see how terrible their ads, products and corporation are for our society.
So please, write a story about this image on your own blog. You can even take this whole article and reproduce it if you want with your own comments or criticism. I don't care, and trust me, I will not threaten to sue you for copyright infringement.
If you are a lawyer from Ralph Lauren, please send the take down notice to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks and I look forward to the lawsuit,