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When Blogging Becomes Copyright Infringement

September 15, 2015

I was caught off guard the other day when checking my FB. Some friends of mine had shared a link to a FundRazr page set up to support a Tumblr profile for an individual named Lady Cheeky. Always curious about someone who could possibly go by the name Lady Cheeky, I clicked on the link to see what the drama was all about. It seems some people were not happy with Lady Cheeky. She had gotten two DCMA notices and if she receives one more, Tumblr will shut down her profile (gasp). She was raising $1000 for her lawyer retainer to fight to keep her page alive, hence the FundRazr plea (at this posting she had $1,400, so the plan seems to be working) As you can imagine, if you are familiar with Tumblr (or follow the link and see for yourself), her very popular blog has a huge cache of “aggregated” erotic images. The site boasts 130,000 followers and and has been featured in Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Salon, Huffington Post and other publications. Lady Cheeky is a very popular gal. In Internet speak; she is an aggregator, in generous terms, a blogger.

Aggregation is the generally referred to as “blogging” and the word aggregation pops up most frequently when speaking about blogging and re-blogging of news.  Aggregation, by Google’s definition “is a website or program that collects related items of content and displays them or links to them”.  Who owns these "related items of content" is defined by copyright law, something every blogger should become very familiar with. You see, if it is done right, blogging is sharing your love of sitting on front of the computer, 24/7, mining as much information as possible on a topic of interest (current events, politics, food, travel, celebrities... porn) and then cultivating that information into a source for your audience, including links to where you found the original content. But if you obscure the audience’s ability to search out the original work in your post, you are infringing upon the ability of the original copyright owner to take credit for or make commission off their original work. And that is wrong. On top of that, if you are selling the work (or selling the curated gallery as a whole, say... for ad revenue), then you are cashing checks with other peoples content. And I would dare say that this Lady Cheeky is on the wrong side of this argument. Lady Cheeky has “cultivated” a huge gallery of images and gifs she doesn’t own, and uses them as click bait traffic for her sponsors (ad sales) and to gain followers (more ad sales). She has used these "mined" images to brand her self as a sex blogger and female pornographer, something publications like Adweek, copyright lawyers, and even other bloggers caution against. Her blog also features what looks like original articles about sex products, like what lube is the best (spoiler alert: She thinks it’s Sliquid). Pretty much your basic sex blogging stuff, but at least that part of her blog seems to be authentic.

And for those of you ready to defend Lady Cheeky or for those of you, who are still confused about how copyright works, let me break it down for you like this…

 

*If you are selling copyrighted content without the owner’s permission, you’re doing it wrong.

If you didn’t write it, draw it, photograph it, compose it, produce it or pay to produce it, then it is not yours. You cannot sell it. This includes displaying images and gifs on your “sex blog” to generate ad sales, sell traffic as an affiliate or sell your aggregated spank bank to viewers online. If you are downloading tour pictures or teaser clips from porn sites, repurposing them, cropping the watermark and then posting them without the copyright owners consent, sorry but you are stealing. Lady Cheeky’s blog basically looks like NASCAR, with tons of affiliate traffic and sponsors, which means checks in the mail to Lady Cheeky. But none of the original content generators are getting a single click thru, and therefore they are reaping zero benefit from having their content on her page. I even checked out her “favorite sites” page, thinking maybe it would link up to her favorite porn sites but shockingly enough, it is just more links to her friends and people who pay her. Which brings me to my next point…

 

*If your post does not include a link back to the original source, you’re doing it wrong.

Lady Cheeky has tons of porn gifs and images that are all aggregated from her fellow Tumblr friends. So if you are trying to find out the original source of her post images and videos, good luck. Most of the watermarks have been cropped out and Lady Cheeky only links to her Tumblr buddies as “sources” in her posts. And wouldn’t you know it, but most of her Tumblr buddies are also “aggregators” with posts full of pilfered content. And the best part is she has a banner from Cosmopolitan Magazine calling her “The Number One Best Porn Site for Women!” It's a joke!! And Cosmo should know better! They are in the business of publishing! Cosmo would be pissed if I start a blog of aggregated images and articles from their magazine that generates 130,000 followers, but I don’t link any of those followers back to their content. Instead I link to my Tumblr friend Timmy who has a thing for “writing” quizzes and horoscopes. What sucks most is that Lady Cheeky’s audience won’t have a direct link to any of the sex scenes she has posted. Instead they are stuck masturbating to a 6 second gif. It’s annoying.

Which brings me to my next point…

 

*If you cut off a watermark on an image or video, you’re doing it wrong.

Just don’t. It’s rude. And don’t aggregate from sites that do because you are now part of the problem, which is nobody knows where the image or scene came from, who’s in it, who produced it. The people that worked on it deserve better and the audience that wants to see more then a spank bank full of teasers deserves better. Posting images with a cropped out watermark is the fastest way to a DMCA notice from an organization like Takedown Piracy. People like Lady Cheeky are the reason TDP is necessary. Blogs like hers not only perpetuate bad behavior, but they are basically using stolen content to generate income. The insane part is that Lady Cheeky has a legal section of her website where she believes the content she posts is protected under “Public Domain”. Seriously people, just because a scene was published on a publically accessible site, does not make it “Public Domain”. If any thing, the gifs could fall under "Fair Use", but Lady Cheeky is excluded from this defense based on the fact that she is profiting off of original images and video and her theft has an effect on the market for the original work, in that, no one is paying for porn when Lady Cheeky is giving it away for free. She even mentions that all of the models in her posts are over 18, except how would she know that without proper 2257 documents? The truth is she doesn't know if the models are over 18, she doesn't know if they were coerced, if they signed a release, if it is revenge porn. This is just part of the danger of publishing pornography and not knowing where it comes from. If pornography is made by a reputable company, it was carefully vetted and properly produced before it was release onto a public site. But if you don't know where an image or gif comes from, how do you know if it is made by a reputable company and in accordance with the law?

 

In my opinion, Lady Cheeky (or any other cultivating aggregators who use copyright images without permission) just don’t care where their images come from or whether or not they are stolen. Lady Cheeky in particular is in the business of getting followers and clicks for her own benefit (ad sale money and awards from fashion magazines). She is not about to sponsor the real porn industry. She doesn't even credit the male talent she is so obviously masturbating too! They have the hardest job of all (no pun intended), which is getting and keeping an erection instantly, on camera, in front of an audience, just so they can get that perfect shot. Lady Cheeky would do her audience a favor by crediting at least the male talent. But I doubt she even knows who they are. I doubt she knows that producers pay for posh locations and A list talent with clean tests and consistent hard-ons. I’m guessing Lady Cheeky has never actually watched a whole porn scene, let alone pondered the amount of time, money and energy that goes into producing one? She doesn’t realize how much work photographers, directors, producers, actors and webmasters put in to making her posts look so good. She doesn’t know that there are agent’s fees, testing fees, travel costs, make up artist, all of which must be accounted for in a production budget. Lady Cheeky has never produced a single porn scene in her life, yet she is Cosmo’s “The Number One Best Porn Site for Women!” ???  Instead giving credit where credit is due, Lady Cheeky would rather hustle for lube money and live in an imaginary world where she is “being creative” when really, she’s just porno scrapbooking with stolen content.

I wish she would stop playing the victim and stop raising money for lawyers. She needs to put that $1400 toward producing her own original adult content (may I suggest the title of Between the Cheeks for her first gif). If she is not ready for her close up, then she should do the damn work! Find out the real sources of all her aggregated images like she was suppose to do in the first place and update all her posts with links to the original content. She would probably make more money as a porn affiliate then a lube hustler, anyway. And if that is just too hard for her (sigh), then she needs to take down her ads! She should not be making money off of content she did not pay for or produce!! Just because a platform like Tumblr exists and lets her get away with being a thief ( but maybe not for long) doesn’t mean it is right!!! As a writer, she should know better. And her magazine sponsors should know better too. Any person or organization in publishing will be familiar with copyright law. The fact that not only do they turn a blind eye to the infringement, but also they validate it with awards, speaks volumes to their integrity and what they value as a publication.  

 

 

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