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HBO took down girl's painting because it used 'Winter Is Coming,' dad says

Commentary: A 13-year-old autistic girl paints a picture and uploads it to artwork site Redbubble. HBO, says her dad, issues a takedown notice.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

What would Mr. Snow do?


Today's topic is: Do lawyers ever go too far?

One dad thinks they might.

Jonathan Wilcox from Edwinstowe in the UK says HBO's lawyers have taken something of a disliking to his 13-year-old daughter's art.

As the Register reports, she was participating in Huevember, an art challenge that asks competitors to choose a color a day and draw something. Wilcox's daughter drew a painting of a young woman, with, as it turned out, a contentious set of words above it.

"She was uploading her pictures to a variety of sites and sharing them on Facebook," Wilcox told the Register. "For this particular piece, she decided to title it 'Winter is Coming.'"

One of the sites she posted it to was Redbubble. This is a site for independent artists, where you can buy their works. Wilcox says he doesn't believe that his daughter was trying to make money.

But along, he says, came HBO on a black, snarling dragon. It owns the trademark to the phrase "Winter Is Coming," words which my innards scream every time my girlfriend wants to watch "Game Of Thrones."

Should you have managed to avoid this show -- and I commend you for that -- the line is uttered to express the onset of dark times.

HBO's lawyers, says Wilcox, asked Redbubble to take his daughter's painting down. "HBO should get a life or stick something where the sun doesn't shine," he told the Register.

Redbubble's regional counsel Paul Gordon told me that he hadn't personally seen the takedown notice, but confirmed that the painting had been removed after a request from HBO.

"To clarify, that doesn't mean Redbubble has formed an opinion either way as to whether the work is infringing," he said. "Like most other online marketplaces, we operate under the framework of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, meaning we have a legal obligation to act on takedown notices that contain the prescribed elements in our IP/Publicity Rights Policy."

Artists can object and file a counter-notice. However, Gordon told me Redbubble hasn't received one from Wilcox's daughter.

For its part, HBO didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wilcox told the Register that his daughter is autistic. He encourages people to "boycott any HBO production, as they go around picking on and upsetting disabled children who have acted in total innocence."

I have a better solution. There's one person who could dissect this situation with a little verve and vigor and fight for the little person: John Oliver.

Yes, the the Brit who does those wonderful, um, takedowns on HBO.