While it may be questionable to put a journalism in-joke in the headline, it makes perfect sense here: “Fair use” refers to the application of intellectual property, namely written or otherwise created work, by somebody who doesn’t own said property as part of a “bigger picture” that is mostly original content. It’s how sites like this one get by with prettifying our content with images we obviously didn’t pull out of our rears. The benefits that developers and producers reap by not making noise over said usage are of course present, but it’s a simple fact that without fair use laws, this site and others like it would not be able to exist. As long as we are not making big money off of their stuff — what a concept! — they’re not able to charge us fees or take us to court for using pictures just like the one I installed as the feature for this piece. It’s fair use and a guard against usury.
Which begs the question, given events of the last two days: Is your face intellectual property? Are your “God-given” (for lack of a better designation) features inherently yours, rendering the indirect application of your general appearance in a work an issue, without your approval? Canadian actress Ellen Page seems to think so, at least on a tongue-and-cheek basis. On Monday, during a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, under her standard net handle “iamatinycanadian,” she referred to how followers of Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us (which launched June 14, June 20 in Japan) have been taking note throughout much of the game’s development that the game’s deuteragonist, Ellie, clearly resembles Page: “I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness, but I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond Two Souls, so it was not appreciated.”
After positive and negative responses to this mostly off-hand comment, including the counter that Naughty Dog has claimed in the past that Ellie is designed to reflect the personality and appearance of her voiceover actress, Ashley Johnson, Page laughed off the whole matter on her Twitter:
Now that this TLOU biz has been cleared up, let’s talk about how this Fatal Labyrinth character is fo sho me pic.twitter.com/HgnDSx6r4c
— Ellen Page (@EllenPage) June 26, 2013
Naughty Dog, for their part, responded to the mostly media-generated controversy this morning:
Wow! The reaction to @EllenPage’s AMA was overblown-After the announce trailer there WAS initial confusion leading us to revise Ellie’s look
— Naughty Dog (@Naughty_Dog) June 25, 2013