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Chan Lowe: Teachers commit theft

53191229-08192043.jpgSettle down, class.

It must be hard, as teachers, to be on the receiving end for a change, and even harder to squeeze into those miniature desks, but please pay attention…today’s lesson is very important.

Today we’re talking about the bad example you’re sending to children, which is that it’s OK to steal. Oh, yes, you committed a crime. It’s called “Intellectual Property Theft.”

To put it in clear, simple terms, just because you saw an image on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s free for you to use in any way you wish. Take the caricature of Gov. Charlie Crist emblazoned on the signs carried by the marching teachers in Tallahassee (shown above).

When I first looked at the Sun Sentinel’s home page this morning, the image on that placard looked mighty familiar. Maybe that’s because it originally sprang from my own mind.

Funny…I don’t recall anyone asking my permission to use this COPYRIGHTED IMAGE before they printed up their signs (and let’s face it, you teachers know all about insisting that people first ask permission). No, they just right-click>saved it right off the web.

Not that I would have given them my permission, anyway, because as an editorial cartoonist I try to avoid sanctioning the use of my work by advocacy groups, even if I agree with them.

Which makes it all the more galling, since I have been a consistent and frequent advocate of the very group that just stole from me.

Shame on you all. Go stand in the corner.

Categories: Florida Issues (258), General Topics (188)
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Let's assume the teachers paid for the ink and paper used to make those signs. I don't believe anything was stolen by the teachers. You were paid by the newspaper for your drawing. Your assets would be exactly the same whether or not the teachers used the sign. You have not been harmed.

Ideas want to be free and cannot be owned as if they were property. Copyright and patent are government grants of monopoly; they do not belong in a free society.

More and more it becomes obvious who's side Mr. Lowe is on. I am sorry I ever recommended this blogger/cartoonist to anyone. If you will not allow others to use your "intellectual property' for a cause that you believe in weather or not they ask you permission they you sir are not for that cause.

Chan says:

Jay, thank you for your comment. Tribune Media Services, my syndicate, licenses the use of my work in publications and on the Internet. The Sun Sentinel owns the copyright, and its financial interests, as well as mine as the creator of the work, have been harmed.

Using something without the owner's permission is theft, period. Stealing intellectual property is the same as stealing material goods.

Without copyrights and patents, and the guarantee of financial benefit to the creators of ideas, society would never benefit from the fruit of their labors. Without these protections, nobody would bother to create anything.

cause - good or sufficient reason: to complain without cause; to be dismissed for cause.

"Not that I would have given them my permission"

"Your assets would be exactly the same whether or not the teachers used the sign. You have not been harmed.

Ideas want to be free and cannot be owned as if they were property. Copyright and patent are government grants of monopoly; they do not belong in a free society."

The irony that Chan is getting paid while he writes against our teachers who are trying to protect their, already small, salary. While he labels our teachers thieves as they have gathered enough courage to take action, whatever action (except violent) that may be. They are only speaking up, and your pockets will not be hurt Chan Lowe.
Frivolous is the word Chan is best described as in this article, and apathy is what the party that's in opposition to this bill really represents. Shame on you, Chan. Go stand in the corner.

Confiscatory tax rates and giving that money to those that contribute little or nothing to society is theft as well. Get used to it Chan. The govt steals my money, the union stole your art work. Sucks, doesnt it?
On a side note: What is their problem with merit pay? I thought Obama was for it? Well at least he says he is.....

Chan, we disagree on this issue. First, I am not advocating people break the law; I am advocating that some laws concerning patent and copyright be modified.

I feel very strongly that property rights should be protected. We disagree on the definition of property. Property implies scarcity. If someone uses your car, you are deprived of its use. If someone uses your ideas, you still have full use of those ideas.

I believe IP (intellectual property) laws actually inhibit creativity rather than promote it. In the field of pharmaceuticals, IP laws prevent companies from developing new and less expensive drugs. Companies in many fields routinely purchase patents in order to inhibit competition, not to improve their product.

I believe Tribune Media Services would continue to pay for your services even without copyright protection because your drawings and commentary add value to the newspaper.

Society benefited from the fruits of Shakespeare's labors without copyright protection. I wonder why he bothered.

Jay, You ARE kidding, right? What is your opinion of plagerism? Are you telling us that anytime anyone creates or writes anything original, that anyone else should be able to use that creation any time they want? Who gets to draw the line on when the creator was "harmed"?

I don't think you have considered the full implications of you "off-the-cuff" comment.



Tribune Media Services does NOT pay Chan for his work that appears in the newspaper.

They syndicate/licence his work for secondary markets.
Many journalists work this way since their salaries are so low.

How nice of you to feel his work should be used by anyone, for anything, without permission and/or payment. I suppose you'd like to reimburse him for his schooling and 30 years of job experience, that he has worked so hard for?

Shame on you for spouting such drivel. Learn something about copyright law before we go on with your Libertarian diatribes.

I don't believe that in today's culture anyone thought of using your material as "theft of intellectual property" which, regrettably, I agree that it was. I disagree that without protection and compensation artists would cease to create, any more than that without adequately compensating educators, public education will come to a halt... The best teachers aren't in it for the money (unlike the politicians who can't see past the next election...) The pool of quality educators will become smaller, as necessary choices are made to leave a calling one loves in order to provide for families. We'll just go back to larger class sizes, even more limited supplies, and less qualified personnel. Money will continue to be wasted on developing and implementing tests that prove that this was a horrific move. Artists like you can choose not to share your work with the public, but you will continue to produce. (True artists produce because creativity cannot be stifled, whether the product piles up in corners or makes it to museums.) The losers would be those who might have benefited by exposure to your art and skills. It would be nice if we lived in a world where one could be fairly compensated and continue to use one's skills to broaden minds. (Is that socialism?) That doesn't seem to be the world that the crafters of current legislation want. And, sadly, they seem to be getting away with it. I fear that not even the theft of your intellectual property can stop it.

Based on the logic of some of the other posters and the fine example of our teachers, am I to assume that my son can stop wasting his time actually writing assignments for school and just copy them from the internet?

Talk about teachers "biting the hand' that drew it.!!No big red apple for all of you...Your acting more like worms...Is this what your teaching the kids.?

Its just one image. Im sure you have plenty, and its for a just cause. You should consider it "patriotic" to give away your property. We're just "spreading around" artistic abilities that some may lack.
Did you ever stop to think that maybe the art teachers were too busy making maccaroni neclaces, to draw their own images?
Your being selfish....


This is not a matter of being selfish. There are laws in this country that protect artists' work and it's critically important that those laws be honored.
Also, it doesn't sound like they even asked Chan for his permission to put it on a protest sign. That might suggest to some that Chan "endorsed" their point of view. So if their sign said,
"Kill Babies!" and they used an image of his without his permission, you think that would be ok?
No, of course not.

A lot of interesting discussion. I am opposed to plagiarism; it is morally repugnant. That does not mean it should be a criminal offense.

My comments were not "off the cuff." Here are two well thought out references regarding IP. Against Intellectual Property by Stephan Kinsella discusses the ethical implications of IP law. Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David Levine makes the utilitarian case that IP inhibits rather than enhances innovation. The authors of both books do not believe in copyright law and have made both books available for free on the internet.

Teresa, encourage your son to write his own papers and to learn to think for himself.

Chris, you are extremely generous with other people's property and talents. It would be preferable if you respected other people's property. If you feel generous donate your own property and talent.

I was being sarcastic.
I believe that Chans artwork is his. Unlike Chan, who does not think what I have earned is mine.

He has no problem with the govt. confiscating a portion of my wages to pay for entitlements for those that make no wages of their own at all. When we complain about the way our tax dollars are spent, we are called greedy.

I think the S.S. needs to give Chan a raise for this posting alone. Its worth its weight in comedy gold.
Its got Chan the socialist, intellectual property, teachers unions and plagarism all wrapped up together.

I just hope the teachers dont steal one of Chan's Obama images when he implements merit pay with his education overhaul.


You may disagree with Chan over taxation, but this issue is about impediments to his earning a living in the first place. People lifting his work for free, if you condone it, does exactly that.

So, if you don't want to pay for "entitlements for those that make no wages," then it would only make sense that you would want this cartoonist to continue making a living through syndication.

On a final note, if you stopped calling the guy a "Socialist," people might take your point of view a lot more seriously.

The theft of one image hardly threatens Chans livelyhood. He probably has a million just lying around. Hell, not even in print!
Again, Ill make it clear. I do think what the teachers union did was theft. It is unacceptable to take something that does not belong to you. I was just trying to point out Chans hypocracy. Im just have a hard time finding sympathy for Chan in particular.
...and I dont take myself seriously, so why would I want you to?

Ashamed at ALL of you? Will people please stop lumping ALL teachers together. I stole nothing. I have no idea who is holding that sign.

I believe the teachers were using Fair Use. I checked Find Law and it appears to fit the criteria:
However, largely because of the First Amendment to the Constitution, there is an exception to the copyright monopoly called fair use.
Fair use permits use of a copyrighted work, without the consent of the copyright owner, for such purposes as education, commentary and criticism.

I don't think this use of Chan's artwork for a picket sign would fall under the category of Fair Use. The sign makers could have drawn their own pictures or used a photograph of the Governor. Their right of free speech would not have been abridged.

I could be wrong. Interpretation of the law is constantly changing. Of course, no one really knows the meaning of the word is ...

Folks, it is not fair use.

And if they had used a picture of Mr. Garrison from South Park to represent teachers, that would be clear to people that it was theft. Just because Chan is not as famous as Cartman does not make it less of a theft.

Photograph OK but not a drawing? Don't see the difference. Both are protected under IP. I think fair use does apply.
Catwoman == Sorry still not clear to me.


I'm a copyright attorney and may be able to help you out here. The type of "criticism"
that's protected under IP laws
does not include taking someone else's copyrighted artwork (photo, drawing, etc.) and applying it to a protest sign. It could actually be argued that Mr. Lowe's First Amendment rights had been breached as well as his copyright. Since the cartoonist did not grant permission to have his image placed on their protest sign, then the person and/or persons who "lifted it" (to express their own opinion) might actually have some problems on their hands.

Hope this helps you understand it a little bit better.

Thanks Charles M.

Let's hope that Mr. Lowe does not feel inclined to take legal action.

I would like to thank you for your pro-teacher thoughts. Your artistic editorial "How would you like your salary and job security depend on this person" was spot on in my opinion! I did zerox it and displayed it on the bulletin board and you received alot positive comments. Was I wrong!

jack ellsley:

Jack, are you a teacher? I feel embarrassed for you. First, it's xerox not zerox. It is derived from the Greek root xeros which means dry. It was named as a dry copying process.

Second, alot is not a word. I'm not even going to discuss the lack of parallelism in your sentence structure.

Please tell me you are a gym teacher.

It's funny, because if we want to be really snotty and pick at an individual's ideas of any type of personal might ask Mr. Lowe the following... "Did Governor Crist give you and your affiliates permission to draw a cartoon portraying him as such?" Get over it and quit picking on teachers; I have been teaching for 7 years and am tired of people who know little to none about the profession pointing fingers in disgust, as if we are this unprofessional and criminal group of individuals. It's ridiculous.

I am sorry that no one has apologized for using your image without permission. I harp about intellectual theft of bootleg movies and music downloads to my students (they do not believe it is stealing).

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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