I’m sorry to have to make this announcement and I hope things work out, but depending on the answer I receive from Tumblr support sometime today I may not continue making gifs and edits. This is due to what I consider an unfair disregard of my Fair Use rights that I feel has taken place.
Yesterday, a nice person informed me that someone reposted one of my KH gifs. I was very grateful they told me and reported it to email@example.com as many people who have had their edits stolen are instructed to do to have them removed. Usually, this occurs without incident, and the people at support are very gracious and kind about protecting our edits. However, I checked my Tumblr today only to see that my own post had been deleted as well. I received this email from a “Kristen” at Tumblr support as follows:
It appears that you are not the owner of the underlying work from which the animated GIF was created. Because you posted this work in violation of Tumblr’s copyright policy, we have removed both your post and the repost of it. Please make sure to follow Tumblr’s copyright policy (http://www.tumblr.com/policy/en/community) in the future.
If you read that link she sent me, it provides a direct link to Stanford’s Fair Use guidelines. I’d like to cite a few excerpts from these guidelines to illustrate how one does not need to be the owner of Kingdom Hearts to post gifs and edits of it.
- Commentary and Criticism: My hobby is to not only edit and post my graphics, but use them as a means to illustrate a point I am trying to make. This is why I like to comment underneath my posts, whether they be short humorous statements or insights into the storyline, and why I enjoy posting on Tumblr so the many lovely people who are part of the same fanbase can comment or critique what I’ve presented. And as is written in the Fair Use guidelines: “If you are commenting upon or critiquing a copyrighted work — for instance, writing a book review — fair use principles allow you to reproduce some of the work to achieve your purposes.”
- Effect of the Use Upon the Potential Market: I obviously don’t benefit in any way from making gifs and edits other than being able to practice my colorings. I don’t have any ads on my blog, I don’t generate revenue, I’m not claiming the game as my own. My use is not commercial. As an aside, I also own Kingdom Hearts for the PS2, along with several of its sequels.
- Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Taken: This may be open to interpretation, but the Fair Use guidelines are: “The less you take, the more likely that your copying will be excused as a fair use. However, even if you take a small portion of a work, your copying will not be a fair use if the portion taken is the “heart” of the work. In other words, you are more likely to run into problems if you take the most memorable aspect of a work." 15 frames of a 500 px gif shrunken out of a 70+ hour game is miniscule in comparison. Moreover, it wasn’t even a cutscene or anything very important to the storyline, it was a random shot of Sora and his crew standing in front of one of several glowing portals.
- The Transformative Factor: I love taking snapshots of moments in games to call attention to details others might miss, and I always add colorings and extra details to all the gifs I make. This gif was shrunken from the original resolution, colored with a completely different color palette compared to the original, and meant to illustrate where I was at that point in time of the game.
- There’s also a segment that says: “In addition, you will have a stronger case of fair use if you copy the material from a published work than an unpublished work. The scope of fair use is narrower for unpublished works because an author has the right to control the first public appearance of his or her expression." I interpret this to mean that it’s considered more okay to sample from the officially published Kingdom Hearts games, than to sample or edit from other peoples’ produced fanart or fanfiction. And, of course, I’m using my own video of my own gameplay to make my gifs.
There are probably more things I could be saying, but whatever. Based on my interpretation of the guidelines Tumblr itself has provided us in their rules, I don’t think my gif of Sora standing in front of a portal means I’m breaking their rules. I came to Tumblr for the wonderful freedom of expression and the richness of the fanbases that are here (most of you are all incredible people and I’m so glad to have met you and so honored that you chose to follow me!) but if this is how they’re going to treat a giffer/graphics editor then I’m afraid I don’t think Tumblr is as safe as I originally felt. A few months back some really nice people worked at support who were really helpful in deleting reposts, so I’m not sure if they’ve changed their policies due to a sudden influx of reports lately. I noticed a post about how to report reposts floating around recently, and it ended up with 4k+ notes so perhaps support is getting overworked. Still, it’s been nearly a week since I sent a report about a reposter, and even if they are overworked it doesn’t justify them trying to censor my non-profit expression. I feel like I went to them for help and ended up being victimized.
If things don’t work out, I’d just like to say I’m really grateful for all the love I’ve gotten from so many of you - I wouldn’t have stayed this long if it wasn’t for the incredibly kind and talented people I’ve met here. Many of you are giffers and editors. So if anything, please take care and note how this plays out. Tumblr thrives on its gif subculture, and if they’re trying to prevent me from reporting reposts and from posting gifs I made outright, then you should be wary of how much freedom you’ll have for giffing from now on, too. I guess the reposters are winning, then.
I doubt support will care about the complaints from a single blogger such as myself, but if you are a gif editor I think it might be wise to send them a message asking them to clarify what does and does not constitute copyright infringement when it comes to giffing. Why include that part about Fair Use in Tumblr’s guidelines if we’re not allowed to post gifs, anyway? :/
Sorry for such a long winded message. I love you alll <3