I’ve actually been looking over this debate for a while. From what I’ve seen the whole situation has gone to shit because both of the comics have insanely rabid fanbases. The forum-goers for each comic have taken it upon themselves to flame the crap out of each other, in some dumb attempt to show their loyalty towards their respective comics. This of course, has accomplished absolutely NOTHING except for inreasing the hostility between the two sides.
And really, the most depressing part of the debate is that both sides have valid points, but the fanboys have a absolute belief that “their” comic is infallible.
Squidi has a right to be angry, as his sprites were obviously copied. Although many people could say that this is “fair use” or “good publicity”, when you get down to it someone stole his art, altered it, and then claimed it as their own. I’m sure if any of you were in the same situation you’d get a little mad too.
However, Squidi did unfortunately get a little over-zealous when he threatened legal action (directly or indirectly) against Penny Arcade. Threatening PA with a lawsuit is like shooting a grizzly bear with a paintball gun; it’s only going to piss it off. Instead of posting in the PA forums with his complaints, it would have probably been a better idea to subtly send some emails to the forum mods, and perhaps even Gabe and Tycho themselves.
But then again, Gabe and Tycho didn’t exactly handle the situation superbly themselves. Their basic response was “We’re usually very sympathetic to web-comic artists, but we think you’re pissy and should go away.”
Although Squidi probably did not have much of a legal basis for his argument, he still did have some valid points. When PA directly belittled Squidi, it gave the green light for all of the PA fanboys to flame the crap him. I’m sure that Squidi’s email will be backed up for days with hate-mail.
In a nutshell, this situation should have never have been made public. Both sides could have settled this quickly and quietly, but instead decided to make it a huge public spectacle with hundreds of fans involved. It’s no longer a copyright dispute, but a full on competition between AMD and PA. Just goes to show what happens when you let a situation get out of hand…