It’s election time in Canada which means the Internet becomes very active with rhetoric and persuasion, from all sorts of contributors, from political parties, opinion writers, Russian bots, trolls, and idiots.
Congratulations anonymous Twitter account holder Can Neo Cons purveyor of a robust chop shop of editorial cartoons. He (and he is a he) describes himself on his Twitter profile as, “I believe in standing up for what I think is right, Too much hatred going on in the world. I am into politics. All in the meme. Left Wing Populist.” He’s made quite a hobby out of extracting caricatures from editorial cartoons and reassembling them in tell tale bold bordered boxes with hackneyed thought bubbles peppered with spelling and grammar mistakes. He is the latest useful idiot to be used as a prime example to others why it’s not a good thing to repurpose professional satire to convey pea brained musings.
He isn’t the first person to do this and he won’t be the last, but there is a consistent hideousness in all of the reworked intellectual property that points to a pathological affliction among such individuals so obsessed by stealing other peoples work.
The behavioural pattern is very familiar. An artist will share work on a social media platform and among the discussion thread below will suddenly appear a chop shop art thief posting his awful repurposed work, in some vain attempt to flatter the artist. When alerted to their misdeed it is almost always the same: They’ll demonstrate immediate guilt, apologize for ripping off your art, and promise not to commit anymore vandalism to your art. Then they won’t bother to remove the offending rip offs of your art from their threads. After a little more back and forth between thief and the original creator, the thief will quickly dig in his heels, cite freedom of expression, telling the original creator that it’s the artist’s fault for sharing their art on social media. Then the fraudster will unleash a volley of insults.
Now, some of my colleagues have passive attitudes to these bottom feeders. Their follower counts are minuscule and in all likelihood there are mental disorders afflicting the individuals behind such accounts. Why bother giving them a broader audience?
In my view, they ought to be treated like any other thief of intellectual property. As we are taught in grade school we are to design our own work. We are told to cite supporting sources of our essays or creations. We are told at a young age that there are consequences for destroying property not belonging to us, intellectual property, or otherwise. This isn’t parody, it is theft, and if some people are so willing to engage in such wreckless activity, one has to wonder what other things such people might be up to. Let this serve as a convenient flag to authorities in case he has other shameful behaviour he thinks he’s hiding.
So, Michael Labelle, retired guy from Cornwall, Ontario, turned intellectual property thief, your misdeeds aren’t so anonymous after all. Your true identity is only mere clickity-clicks all over social media.
Past Recipients of the Social Media Jackass Award. Each winner eventually removed stolen items from their feeds but it always took persistence:
UPDATE: Tuesday March 12, 2019
It took a week of waiting but after a complaint was lodged against Michael LaBelle’s theft his repurposed use of my intellectual property was scraped off the bottom of Facebook’s shoe.
Most of it, anyway. I listed 25 violations of intellectual property theft.
Tonight, Facebook sent me an email message following up on a complaint I lodged last week, and confirmed that Michael LaBelle had indeed violated Facebook’s rules regarding unauthorized use of Intellectual Property and has removed the offending material from his page Can Neo Cons.
A quick scan through Michael LaBelle’s Facebook thread of awfulness will reveal a few more of my cartoons that were overlooked on a morning of logging infringements when I could’ve easily been more productive with my time than picking away at some loser’s pathetic hobby. Still, there remains extracts of cartoons drawn by well known cartoonists whose work has been degraded and repurposed to convey this thief’s twisted thoughts for all eternity. The word needs to get out that this behaviour is unacceptable and that it won’t be tolerated. While some may wonder why I bother to devote more than a few seconds of fuming towards some cretin that pops up on my Twitter notifications, this is really meant for the future Michael LaBelles. Michael LaBelle, rather stupidly, opted to react unwisely when his dirty hobby was exposed even when he was given the option to recant. Let this serve as an example to other Michael LaBelles that before the DMCA takedown happens you’ll be shamed first, and you’ll become the next useful idiot, like Michael LaBelle.