Friday March 6, 2015

Fair Use?

PSA: Avoid

I thought use of a cartoon, with full attribution on an unpublicized personal page constituted "fair use".

Cartoon Stock disagrees.

Fair enough.

But without first offering me a chance to take the cartoon down or pay for a license, they sent a threatening letter insisting on a "settlement penalty". My attempt to settle amicably (by suggesting that I pay the licensing fee for past use and/or immediately take down the cartoon) was met first with silence, then with a form letter after I tried again to contact them. My response to the form letter received the identical form letter again. I guess no one is home.

Apparently, Cartoon Stock's "License Compliance Services" employees have nothing better to do than to go after private individuals on backwater unpublicized pages. They're certainly not spending their time answering their email.

I'll pay their penalty fee, but it comes with a cost to them: this post.


By my reading of the 7 U.S. Code ยง 107 - Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use, this blog post itself would definitely count as fair use, being for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting..., however, I do not trust the robots at, so I will link to their 'toon rather than uploading it.

After posting this, I learned that my experience is not unusual and could have been a lot worse.

I also learned that the folks at don't really care how "License Compliance Services" treats people:


I can only apologise for any rudeness, but unfortunately CartoonStock has no input with how LCS contacts people regarding copyright infringements, as LCS is a completely separate company from CartoonStock.

Unfortunately as a result we cannot help you any further with this case.

However if you do need to contact someone to resolve this then please get in touch with the contact details provided by LCS.

I hope this helps and that you manage to resolve this case.
Kind regards,
John Simmons | Customer Service Manager
CartoonStock Ltd.

How very sad. (I wrote back to reiterate that the "contact details provided by LCS" are essentially worthless...)

Fair Use? ( in category Show & Tell ) - posted at Fri, 06 Mar, 14:34 Pacific | «e»

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