The controversy surrounding Eric Bauman’s use of copyrighted material. which was first reported on this site here and here, has not died down. Though it is nearly eight months later, allegations against Bauman and his site, eBaum’s World, continue to surface and the hostilities seen during the “open war” have failed to die down significantly.
However, Bauman has not been able to escape his bad reputation and there are signs that it might be starting to affect his work, at least to some degree.
The Television Pilot
Back in January, shortly after the “open war” subsided, USA Networks announced that they were working on a late-night television show based upon the eBaum’s World Web site. The show, which was to “bring the most shocking and extreme content to late night programming” quickly found itself in the center of controversy.
In February, a representative from the show named Bradley Scott called the Webmaster of Albino Blacksheep, one of the sites that has regularly discovered its content reposted on eBaum’s World, to try to clear the rights for the site’s content for use in the show. Portions of the conversation were posted on the Albino Blacksheep site and included several attempts by the employee of the TV show to distance the show from the site.
“We optioned the show,” Scott said, “We don’t have any connection to that itself…. What the Web site did in the past, that sucks, and I’m not down with that.”
Scott continue to try to distance the show from the site saying that “We’re only using the name and the reputation of the site” and that they were not guilty of the same “transgressions”.
In March, a thread was opened up on the USA Network’s Website asking if the series was being planned. An administrator reiterated that a pilot had been ordered, but it had not been made into a series. Since then, several posters have added comments to the thread asking USA to not make it into a series citing eBaum’s World’s previous problems with copyright. The administrator had no responce.
At last word the pilot was due to air sometime this month. However, at the beginning of the month eBaum’s World removed all prominent mentions of the show from its site and the show does not appear to be slated for any time in the current listings (Note: Current listings only go to the 21st and may be inaccurate). I have been unable to find any updated information on the television show since the beginning of the month.
I will continue to seek out new information and report it as it becomes available.
The Alan Becker Debacle
In June, Albino Blacksheep posted an article about Alan Becker stating that eBaum’s World had taken his popular Flash animation, entitled “Animator vs. Animation“, and that they were pursuing legal recourse under the DMCA.
Animators were quick to rally around Becker, offering support, including financial assistance, to help him with his battle.
However, later that month, an apology, apparently from Becker, appeared on the eBaum’s World site saying, among other things, that eBaum’s World had contacted him before posting the animation and that none of eBaum’s World’s content was stolen. This led to outrage on the Albino Blacksheep forums and prompted a follow up post on the site that explained what happened in more detail.
According to Albino Blacksheep, after hearing about the potential lawsuit, eBaum’s World sent Becker a check for $250, the equivalent to the pize prize money for entering a monthly contest at eBaum’s World, and pushed him to sign the above statement. Becker, after seeing how the statement was being misrepresented, released a reply of his own stating that he “did not give them (eBaum’s World) permission to put it on.” and that he was “ashamed” for falling into “eBaum’s trap”. According to the entry, Becker sent the check back. and, sometime later, both the statement and the animation were removed from the eBaum’s World Web site.
A Quick Mystery
A little bit over a week ago, on July 30th, I woke up to find that Plagiarism Today was experiencing an unusually high traffic volume. If it had been any other day of the week, I likely would have barely noticed but since the 30th was a Sunday, which are usually very dead, the spike caught my eye immediately.
The spike was due to Google searches for the term “Eric Bauman“, for which the old Plagiarism Today article is either sixth or seventh. I tried to find out what was causing so many people to look up his name but turned up nothing. The most recent eBaum’s World scandal had been resolved a full month before and there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. Frustrated, I gave up hoping that the answer would surface later.
As of yet, it hasn’t.
I would be very grateful if anyone who is familiar with this might be able to help me out.
While it is obvious that the controversy surrounding eBaum’s World has not completely changed, there are plenty of signs that the attention has begun to affect it.
Between the television show working hard to distance itself from its namesake, the site’s quick removal of at least two lifted works and its willingness to pay out to an aggrieved animator after rumors of a lawsuit started swirling shows that eBaum’s World and Eric Bauman have not been able to completely ignore their copyright issues and the reputation that has come from it.
While it may not be the cataclysmic shift or complete shut down that many were hoping for, slow change can be effective as well. However, animators and other content creators will have to remain vigilant regarding eBaum’s World and will need to keep applying pressure, both in pursuing them over infringing works and denying them legitimate access to new ones.
However, I don’t see much of a problem with that. Given Bauman’s reputation among flash animators and those to the like, it seems that he is unlikely to be given a warm greeting among content creators for some time to come. Furthermore, with sites such as ebaumsworldsucks.com keeping a close eye on Bauman, it’s likely that he will know, for some time, that his actions are being closely watched.
One Final Suggestion
While I am not a lawyer, I would like to offer one final suggestion to flash animators and others who have or are scared that they might have their works illegally posted on eBaum’s World.
During my reading for this article I ran across many different instances where people were talking about possibly suing Bauman. While that is definitely possible and could be very worthwhile, there is one thing that should be done before anyone takes such a step: Register your copyright.
Registering your copyright, enables you to claim much higher damages than you would have otherwise. Without a registration, you can only claim the highest of the amount you lost or the other party gained, which would likely be minimal in this case, even with Bauman’s high level of income. However, with a registration, you can sue for punitive damages which are usually tallied based on the number of uses or, in this case, views. On a site such as eBaum’s World, which reported gets over a million page views a day, one suit with punitive damages could do a lot more harm than several suits without.
Once again though, I am not a lawyer, but it is almost always worthwhile to register your copyright if have reason to believe that your work will be stolen and you have intent to protect it. It only costs a few moments of your time and $45.
However, the protection it offers is nothing short of immeasurable.