Let's talk about copyright at Sleepycomics.com...

As Sleepycomics.com grows, so does the concern that it could be targeted for violating copyright law. It didn't really matter when I was running a blog that had 90 page views a day. But now we are getting hundreds of thousands of visits a month, and it's time to start having a discussion about copyright and fair use.

What is "Fair Use"?

U.S. Copyright law was designed to strike a balance between protecting the creative works of its citizens, and advancing the creativity/knowledge of society as a whole. When you write a book, or take a picture, or draw a piece of art, the minute you produce the work, you own the copyright for it. Copyright grants you the sole right to reproduce, distribute and sell (among other things) your creative work.

If our society only enforced copyright, then it would be impossible for websites like Sleepycomics.com to exist. In fact, a lot of sites couldn't exist. IMDB.com couldn't exist, because it has copyrighted movie posters. Pinterest.com couldn't exist, because people share copyrighted photographs. ComicBookResources couldn't exist, because it posts comic pages and reviews them. But those sites do exist, and it's because you as an American do have the limited right to reproduce copyrighted works without permission from the copyright owner. That's called "Fair Use".

Fair use allows a person to reproduce copyrighted material for commentary, criticism and educational purposes. To determine if something is fair use, the following criteria is used (codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 107):

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
#3 and #4 are most relevant to Sleepycomics.com. I will further explain below how Sleepycomics.com attempts to adhere to fair use.

Is Sleepycomics.com non-commercial and non-profit?

Ask yourself: do you see ads on Sleepycomics.com? Did you have to pay to access the data? Did you donate today?

Sleepycomics.com makes virtually no money. While I attempted to monetize my website a few years back, as of 2012 I do not monetize Sleepycomics.com in any way except for voluntary donations. The donations I recieve are only enough to cover hosting costs.

Furthermore, any attempt I make at monetizing my website will jeopardize the fair use defense, as I would then be profiting off the copyrighted works of others.

My goal is to make Sleepycomics.com an informational resource for sleepy fetish enthusiasts and even comic book lovers.

Does Sleepycomics.com reproduce a substantial amount of copyrighted material to violate fair use?

This is the million dollar question, because the answer is quite complex. It really depends on who you ask. In general, I don't believe I violate fair use for about 99% of the posts on this site. The reason I say this, is because reproducing a portion of a copyrighted work, for the purpose of commentary, can be considered fair use. I can still get sued, but I can at least defend myself by claiming I wasn't trying infringe.

It would be like a blogger posting a clip from The Avengers and writing a critique on it. In my case, I am posting a snippet of a comic and commenting on the sleepy aspects of it. In many cases, I do not even care about the plot of the snippet.

I believe Sleepycomics.com can have educational and research usage (a very limited usage). For instance, someone interested in the history of Wonder Woman might want examples of her early bondage escapades. I provide scans and commentary on it, and I believe that's fair use.

The whole point I am trying to make is, Sleepycomics.com is not in the business of infringing copyrights.

I am not trying to hurt comic book sales. If anything, I am hoping Sleepycomics.com will excite new people into learning more about the superheroines they love to see. Maybe they'll even become comic book fans!

I also want to add that, comic books in general are a very fragile medium to store content. After their initial publication, comics can become very difficult to find. Many older comics may also be lost forever. One of my missions is to preserve the best sleepy and bondage scenes from comics, so that future generations can appreciate what humanity has created.

Could Sleepycomics.com potentially affect the market for comic book sales?

I believe the answer is no, and this is something I try to enforce.

Right now, there's a lot of copyrighted content that is specifically tailored to the Sleepycomics.com audience. Commercial video clips from your favorite sleepy content producer, for instance. The reason commercial sleepy content is not allowed specifically on Sleepycomics.com, is because it violates fair use.

Think about it. Let's say there's an artist who is creating a book that contains nothing but sleepy and bondage art. If I went ahead and just posted the book, it would affect the market demand for that book. People could get the content without paying. That is not fair use.

Could Sleepycomics.com still get sued by a publisher?

Yes, but I think it's unlikely right now. Fair use in its codified form is only a defense against potential copyright infringement. It doesn't protect me from a lawsuit.

Does Sleepycomics.com enforce 'takedown' notices?

In theory, yes, but in reality I've never had someone file a DMCA takedown notice to me. If you are a copyright holder, and you can prove it, and you want me to remove your copyrighted work, please send me an e-mail.

All this sounds really scary. What can I do to help?

Just continue visiting and supporting Sleepycomics.com! I believe I provide a type of service that is very difficult to find elsewhere. I also believe that this service provides a net benefit to society.

Just keep in mind, when uploading a new scene, ask yourself: does this represent fair use of the copyrighted material? If the answer is 'no', best just leave it on your hard drive.

Thank you all for your support!

Updated: June 22, 2012.