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If you don’t think you’re getting enough attention on the Internet, there’s a way to fix that. Though you probably won’t like the results.

Every so often, you run across one of those “Streisand Effect” cases where someone decides to try to stifle criticism of themselves and it backfires in a big way. I thought I’d seen the most amusing possible example of that yesterday with this Ars Technica story about a hotel whose web site promised a $500 fine for negative Yelp reviews (they swore they were “just kidding,” but not before a major backlash brought them a load of negative yelp reviews).

I was wrong.

Last night I noticed a Tumblr post from my friend Eric Burns-White linking to a post on the Escher Girls Tumblr concerning a DMCA notice it had received from one Randy Queen, a comic book creator I’d never heard of before but certainly have now. Queen objected to the site’s criticism of some of his art, and decided the best way to respond was to file a DMCA complaint to have the content taken down—even though it almost certainly meets the necessary criteria for fair use of copyrighted materials in criticism. (You can still find some of the posts in the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine if you go to the trouble of typing the whole URL in, however.) Subsequently, Queen filed another DMCA complaint in an attempt to have the post concerning the DMCA notices itself taken down.

Techdirt has a post on the initial DMCA requests, and a follow-up on the post about the notices. The follow-up includes an email from Queen to Escher Girls in which he threatens to sue for defamation over the negative publicity he’s receiving due to his own actions. (And here’s another one at Popehat with another such letter.) Really, dude?

It’s unfortunate there’s no real penalty for abuse of the DMCA, so people like this schmuck can effectively use it with impunity to stifle speech they don’t like. It’s also unfortunate that Escher Girls (apparently) don’t plan to file counterclaims, not wanting a “feud” with Queen (they even say so in that post Queen complained was defamatory). I’d strongly encourage them to go ahead and fight back. They might not want a feud, but apparently Queen does.

And guess what, Mr. Queen? You wanted a feud, you’ve got it—with the entire Internet. Hope you’re ready.

 
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