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Anita Sarkeesian Publicly Addresses FanArt Controversy

Anita Sarkeesian addresses her use of fanart in the Women vs. Tropes series.

Last week, artist Tammy Smith wrote an open letter to Anita Sarkeesian, accusing the Feminist Frequency founder of stealing artwork--specifically a picture of Princess Daphne from Dragon's Lair that Smith had created as fanart. 

 While there was no official word from Anita Sarkeesian regarding the discussions, Tammy posted a follow-up via her Twitter and Tumblr letting the general public know that she and Anita were in discussions regarding the image. 

Without an official statement from Anita Sarkeesian, it was left to internet spectators (such as myself) to try and understand the event, and demonstrated how certain segments of the internet still despise her.

Finally, 10 days after the original post Sarkeesian publicly responds. 

First, we would like to offer our sincerest apologies to Tammy for mistaking her Dragon’s Lair fan art for official promotional material two years ago when we created this remix collage. 

...Feminist Frequency makes a point to try to not use fan art. Many fan artists are so talented that their creative works can look as good, if not better than the official versions. So we try our best to be diligent and make sure all media used is from the publishers and developers of the games discussed but occasionally we do make an honest mistake.

The official response apologizes to Tammy and explains how the mistake happened. Looking at the image itself, it is easy to understand how this mistake could be made - the quality and style of the image nail that which is used in official Dragon's Lair artwork. 

Sarkeesian has also removed the image from the Tropves vs. Women in Video games collage out of respect: 

We believe that our transformative use of Tammy’s fan art is a fair use under the law. However, since we honestly did not intend to use fan art in this case, we have voluntarily gone ahead and replaced the fan art in our old collage as a gesture of goodwill.

Both the clarification of Fair Use law and the removal of the Princess Daphne image addresses the concerns that Tammy listed in her open address and her follow-up. 

However, considering how often the Troves vs. Women in Video Games logo has already been spread across the internet, it is unclear if the new image will ever overtake the original.

Sarkeesian goes on to explain why it has taken so long for this public announcement to be made: 

We did not feel it would be appropriate or professional to publicly discuss this incident until a resolution could be reached.

Complicating matters was the fact that Tammy had recently been in direct social media communication with at least one individual who has participated in the doxxing of me, my team and my family. We do not believe Tammy had any knowledge of this person’s actions, but it necessitated additional caution on our part in dealing with this situation.

We did not feel it would be appropriate or professional to publicly discuss this incident until a resolution could be reached.

For someone who has received hundreds if not thousands of threats about rape and death, it makes sense that Sarkeesian would deal with cases like with deliberate caution. Unfortunately, that means that it is sometimes necessary for Sarkeesian to let gossip fester for a few days instead of responding with a knee-jerk reaction. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm impressed with the civility on both sides of this public disagreement, and Sarkeesian's response only reinforces my opinion that both parties have acted professionally during this controversy. 

I'm completely satisfied with this apology. 

 For me, this public statement addresses all of the questions I had regarding the issue, and seems to address all of the problems that Tammy had with Sarkeesian in the first place. She even goes so far as to make sure the world knows that Feminist Frequency is registered as a non-profit--which feels akin to asking President Obama to show his birth certificate. 

I know that, at this point, people who already despise Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency will not be swayed by this apology nor the information she cites in it. For those of us on the other side of the spectrum, we can resume sending Anita happy thoughts; she probably desperately needs them desperately. 

Published Mar. 17th 2014
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