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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cyber Rape Pornstars and the DMCA as a tool of editorial control

Anshe Chung will likely be remembered by many as the "cyber rape porn star" over coming months and years, thanks to Guntram Graef. "Cyber Rape Porn" is just too memorable a triplet of words to sink out of sight. It's the sort of thing most people call a meme. It's going to leave a mark.

The contention is that an avatar is a copyright body of work, and as we all know, a copyright body of work may not be duplicated or derived from except as granted by the copyright holder, or as provided by law.

Guntram Graef considers this grounds to suggest that an avatar's controller has the right to exercise editorial control over images of that avatar.

This raises the question whether a photograph of a copyrighted work is a derived work or not, because there seems little doubt that an avatar is a copyrighted work, possibly a work that is composed of works of others, and thus a derived work, but a work nonetheless. Is a photograph/print of a painting a derived work? Surely, though the law allows some personal-use exceptions in some places and locations.

Internet Rule of the Sandbox digression: Would anyone turn up to an open press conference if the interviewee demanded full editorial control over all text and images?

I think a more interesting question is raised. Is this a work of parody, and thus potentially an exemption to the DMCA?

Is flinging flying penises at a copyright image inherently satirical, in this context?

If so, then there's potentially no breach here, and Graef's emails about "cyber rape porn" are misrepresentational, while still remaining an indelible mark on Anshe Chung.

Now, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't be thrilled if that were me up there. I've had enough penises flung at me inworld, thankyou very much, as well as quite a few offered to me for one reason or another. The first person to whom I showed alt-mousing the camera took a snapshot up my skirt and spread a few thousand copies of that image all over the grid.

I wasn't very happy about that, no, but it's not something I was going to treat as a copyright issue.

Anshe, I'm sorry that this incident happened to you. I'm sorry that Guntram has attached 'Cyber Rape Porn' to your name. If he hadn't, everyone would have forgotten all about this by next week. You're probably stuck with it now.

Various companies have learned since the inception of the DMCA that it is a double-edged sword. It needs to be handled carefully, and with great delicacy, or it does more damage to those who use it than it does to those against whom it is used.

So..are these images and videos construable as parody? And has Graef done more damage to Anshe's long-term image than the images and videos ever could?


  1. Let's be frank here... only a few years ago, this was something Anshe could have shrugged or even laughed off, given the nature of her first career.

    Times certainly have changed.

    With regards to Graef's charged accusation of "Cyber Rape Porn", I would agree that this has probably caused more damage than the actual CNet attack. In his efforts to bandage Anshe's big toe, he seems to have shot a hole in her foot. (Please don't ask me why he was wielding a gun while bandaging a girl's foot. This sort of thing just beggars belief.)

    And DMCA does cover parody... But one man's parody is another man's libel. This is probably one for the courts... messy messy messy.

    \Adds 'Cyber Rape Pr0n' as a label in her blog.

  2. I think that given an avatar is a whole blend of name, skin, animation, clothing and so on, one would have a hard time arguing that a static picture of it was a copyright breach. Some sort of CopyBot would seem to be necessary. At least, that is what I would argue.

  3. It seems that Graef just does not get it.
    The Penii incident would have been pretty much over in a few weeks,
    and more news would have taken it's place.

    The video would just dissapeared in to the rest of the internet chaff. ( eventually )

    On the other, since there is no such thing as bad publicity, this might be a cunnning plan to get more publicity for Anshe Chung Studios.

    (reaches for her copy of the Sun Tze )

  4. This whole photograph thing is getting rediculously out of control.

    I've got a HUD now for anyone in world who wants to avoid any copyright infringement if anybody wants one. It's basically a black prim that fills your whole screen so you can't see anything. Have to protect the copyrighted works you know.

    The sky is not falling. But of course this isn't about the real copyright issues. So far it's been near impossible to go after the people who use image ripper software, so people are going for the easy targets. Unfortunately the "easy targets" are most often the ones who are not truly guilty.

    Congradulations Second Life, you are a true entity now, the ****ing lawyers have arrived.

  5. Even your HUD could be considered copyright infringement.

    I remember hearing about one musician accusing another of infringement because the accusing musician released a "piece" which was nothing but silence (the defending musician had a distinctive short silence in the middle of the song).

    Although the defending musician simply replied "which part have I used ?"

  6. I'm glad I read this post, or I'd have missed the incident completely!

    YouTube, for the win :)


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