When Doris Met Douglas: My Very Own Character Assassination

When Doris Met Douglas: My Very Own Character Assassination

Douglas S. Taylor is an independent author who runs DarcWorX Entertainment, a South Dakota-based publisher previously known as DarkWorks and DarcWorks. Taylor has published a number of books through his company, including the Tales From Under the Concrete horror anthologies and the fantasy series Chronicles of Caledon. He is also a serial plagiarist and a

Douglas S. Taylor is an independent author who runs DarcWorX Entertainment, a South Dakota-based publisher previously known as DarkWorks and DarcWorks. Taylor has published a number of books through his company, including the Tales From Under the Concrete horror anthologies and the fantasy series Chronicles of Caledon.

He is also a serial plagiarist and a harasser.

Anathema

Image posted on Anathema Photography’s Facebook page, showing DarcWorX publicity materials with plagiarised photographs.

Back in November 2013, Danielle K. L. Anathema – owner of a horror-themed photography studio called Anathema Photography – found that Douglas S. Taylor had used at least two of her pictures in DarcWorX publicity materials. In neither instance did he obtain her permission. Anathema proceeded to issue a statement on Facebook:

So I am all for sharing art and highly appreciate when given credit. Now THESE people from DARKWORKS ENTERTAINMENT, have taken it upon themselves to not only remove my watermarks but place their OWN company name on my images. They have done this to quite a few artists, so go check and make sure they haven’t stolen your work…

The same month, an unknown individual set up a parody Twitter account in Taylor’s name to draw attention to his multiple counts of artistic theft.

None of this deterred him, however. To see how far Taylor took his plagiarism, look at the covers of these four books from DarcWorX:

Covers of four books by Douglas S. Taylor.

Three of the images were lifted from desktop wallpaper designs that can be seen herehere and here. As for the picture on the top-right cover, a reverse image search quickly reveals the original – which is clearly copyrighted by one Anastasia Kozlova:

Image by photographer Anastasia Kozlova.

I checked the free Amazon previews of each book, including the copyright information. Nowhere did I see credits for any of the cover illustrations – not even to Anastasia Kozlova, who is the proven copyright holder for one of the images.

This, to put it politely, raises a question mark over the legality of Taylor’s publications.

Taylor eventually responded to the accusations of plagiarism with a July 2015 blog post, which is archived here. This screed is positively dripping with condescension – Taylor refers to his detractors collectively as “Little Timmy” – but the smug tone belies a complete lack of substance.

Taylor claims that the terms and conditions of DeviantArt and Tumblr allow third parties to purchase art directly from the websites, without permission from the artists; this is untrue. He claims that fan art is automatically in the public domain; this is untrue. He attempts to define “public domain” but instead describes Creative Commons Zero, apparently failing to realise that this is an entirely voluntary label and not a status that can be obtained by accident.

Above all, he seems thoroughly confused as to exactly what argument he is making in his defence. Is he claiming to have used only public domain art, or is he claiming to have used copyrighted art that he had purchased legally? Either claim would be false.

To top off this travesty of the truth, the post features a banner showing what looks suspiciously like Hannibal Lecter, as played by Anthony Hopkins:

DarcWorX banner

In late 2015, frustrated at seeing various horror sites on my Twitter feed retweeting Taylor’s plagiarised images, I decided to help get the word out about his misconduct. I started the hashtag #DarcworxPlagiarism to document his behaviour, although I did not have the time or energy to keep it active for more than four tweets. I also began tipping off the artists from whom he had stolen.

Here is just one example of the plagiarism that Taylor committed during this period. On September 10th he tweeted this promotional image for his blog:

DarcWorX Entertainment banner.

In making this graphic, Taylor had stolen a painting by concept artist Tom Edwards, made for a book entitled The Fantasy Illustration Library – Lands and Legends:

Painting by Tom Edwards for The Fantasy Illustration Library – Lands and Legends.

I got in touch with Tom Edwards, who confirmed that Douglas S. Taylor had used his artwork without permission. Edwards then sent Taylor a cease and desist message on Twitter:

Twitter exchange between Douglas S. Taylor and Tom Edwards.

Taylor subsequently deleted the tweet containing the banner, which can be viewed in archive here. But this was not the end…

Doug Taylor strikes back

In his aforementioned blog post on copyright law, Taylor makes a bold threat towards anyone who accuses him of plagiarism (sic throughout):

“Little Timmy, if you call me an art thief of ‘stealing’ images – You’re getting sued and brought up on legal charges. I’ll be seeing you in court real soon. I’ve been down this path before with some fucks that can barely read in the first place and take note of the insurmountable silence?”

When Taylor found that I had called him out on Twitter, however, he did not pursue legal action. No, his response was rather more bizarre than that…

Screenshot showing the DarcWorX Twitter feed.

The DarcWorX Twitter feed as it appeared on 30 September 2015.

Over a short period of time, Taylor repeatedly posted three images from my Twitter page – two were screengrabs of my feed, while the third was my profile photograph – alongside various disparaging comments. Some of these were relatively innocuous, such as this jab at my choice of sunglasses, while others were flat-out incoherent, such as the ones here and here.

He identified me as an “asshole lurking in Twitter’s shadows” and expressed a desire to “take Doris to the shows and leave her.” Another of his tweets misrepresented my argument, saying that I had accused his stories of being plagiarised as opposed to his art.

One vaguely sinister tweet quoted someone called Nick Stall as saying that I’m “dead already.” My best guess is that this is a botched reference to the first Sin City film, which featured a murderer played by actor Nick Stahl.

Tweet by DarcWorX Entertainment.

So obsessed was Taylor that he kept on tweeting about me – and onand onand on. In all, he posted my face no fewer than seventeen times during the course of this tweeting session. Notice also that he added his logo to the bottom-right corner of my profile picture, as though trying to claim ownership of my likeness. Two days later, he took this a step further by uploading a banner that incorporated part of my photo; and likewise, he posted it repeatedly.

Tweet by DarcWorX Entertainment.

Doug Taylor‘s next move was to publish a spoof news story about me. Although opening with a standard-issue “Any resemblance to actual persons… is purely coincidental” notice, the post mentions me by name and includes my photograph. Taylor, it would appear, has somewhat missed the point of the disclaimer in question.

Taylor identifies me as being transgender – one of the few things he gets right – and then proceeds to let his imagination run riot. According to his version of events I was once a notorious crime lord named Robert Fletcher (or Fisher; he does not seem to have decided on what deadname to give me) who paid for a sex change using money embezzled from an orphanage.

RobertFletcher

Excerpt from Douglas S. Taylor’s article about me.

The post claims that Fletcher was guilty of all manner of crimes including murder, bestiality and child sex trafficking. This criminal career did not end well, however: I was intrigued to learn that I had died after driving my scooter off a cliff during a police chase.

Included in the post is another DarcWorX banner showing my face. The caption identifies me with “these kinds of parasite who fall victim all to there (sic) own demise”, whatever that means. Taylor liked this banner enough to re-use it in subsequent posts and on Twitter.

He mentioned me again in his Christmas blog post, smugly declaring that, by lying about me, he had somehow dealt with my accusations of plagiarism:

Excerpt from a DarcWorX Entertainment blog post.

His claim that I am “of little consequence” to him is belied by the fact that he continued to post about me well into the new year. In March, he came up with another banner featuring my face and – rather oddly – sent it to cosplayer Liana Kerzner, apparently because I had recently retweeted her:

Twitter exchange involving Liana Kerzner and Douglas S. Taylor.

At around the same time, I happened to update my Twitter profile with a new photograph. Doug Taylor took the opportunity to make yet another banner attacking me, which he posted on his blog this April:

DarcWorX Entertainment banner.

Am I worried about all of this? In terms of purely personal effects, not particularly. Compared to some of the high-profile cases of online harassment that we have heard about lately, I got off easy.

I was initially concerned that someone might believe the accusations to be true, but upon reflection, I am more bothered that people will think that I had a hand in the authorship of Taylor’s atrociously-written article.

My overall emotional response to Taylor’s attack on me is not anxiety, but bewilderment. It does not surprise me at all to find that Taylor is a conspiracy theorist who, amongst other things, believes that the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax perpetrated by the United States government. He comes across as a man who is prone to rewriting reality when it does not suit his purposes – and really, how else could he write that article about me and go away thinking that it would reflect badly on anyone other than himself?

That said, I have a number of lingering concerns about this whole affair.

Twitter posting by Douglas S. Taylor.

Douglas S. Taylor sends a death threat to a Twitterbot, apparently in the belief that there is a real woman on the receiving end of his message. (Violence towards women is a recurring theme in his tweets.)

Many people out there would find this kind of treatment distressing. This is why I decided that it was necessary to expose Taylor’s behaviour by writing this article: if he carries on like this then he may well go after somebody who is more vulnerable than I am. The independent horror-writing community should know about this man before his bullying gets out of hand – to say nothing of his repeated acts of art theft.

It is time to get the word out: Douglas S. Taylor, founder of DarcWorX Entertainment, is a plagiarist and a harasser.

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  • Annette
    May 20, 2016, 4:56 pm

    Oh gosh. Now she’s accusing me of being Mr. Taylor. I tried to write in a common and easy to understand way. I even volunteered to speak to Mr. Taylor on her behalf. This person is beyond hope and making wild accusations and attacks to people who wish to help her. Why even try. I wonder if Mrs. Taylor was right about this person, “This Doris man or woman began an underhanded plan as to notify people via messages spreading lies, half-truths, to many people. She/He done this without ever contacting my husband about anything. Also, there has not been one artist that has come to my husband complaining of using their work in any kind of banner, page add, or anything.”

    Today, Mr. Taylor did agree for a skype interview with me. The renewable energy subject. I don’t have to prove to you that he made such a device and it does indeed work. Also, his solar panel array is working great at a technical school in Rapid City. Doris, you have heard of solar, wind, and zero-based energy in England, right?
    This will be the last time I attempted to speak with you and wish you would seek psychiatrically professional help. No wonder you have so few followers.
    Annette.

    REPLY
  • Annette
    May 18, 2016, 5:13 pm

    Oh, who the hell cares. I went and read the story and it is loaded with dark humor. Also, thanks for the pictures. I use Tin Eye reverse image search engine. I can see where you are coming from in a way, but the author’s latest stuff which is loaded is from online stock photo-image shops such as Adobe, Shutter Shack, and royalty-free, public usage, and other non-copyrighted sources. Out of 14.9 Billion Images indexed I cannot find any newer stuff to suggest this guy is a plagiarist. I even ran some of his talented writing to see if any at all was lifted — Again, all original.

    Really, move on with your life for heaven sakes. Also, I will admit that England’s laws might be different. But Douglas Taylor’s stuff that I see is his own with exception of that banner of you. If you hold him in such standards, then you aught to hold everyone throughout the Internet to the very same.

    REPLY
    • Doris V. Sutherland@Annette
      May 19, 2016, 7:04 am

      Who cares? Well, I’d imagine that the artists he stole from would care, for a start. Certainly, the ones I heard from seemed pretty upset.

      And if you think that none of Taylor’s more recent graphics have been plagiarised, then you clearly haven’t been looking hard enough. Here’s one of the posts on the first page of his blog:

      https://darcworx.wordpress.com/2016/03/17/in-this-months-edition/

      See the image at the top? Well, it was painted by an artist called Kerem Beyit:

      http://kerembeyit.deviantart.com/art/There-you-go-10500294

      There is nothing to indicate that Taylor obtained permission to use Beyit’s art on his blog.

      Then we have this post, made in March:

      https://darcworx.wordpress.com/2016/02/13/march-2012-magazine-cover-and-a-whole-lot-more/

      See the banner showing a swordswoman carrying a severed orc head? That one was painted by an artist named Evgeniy Shatrow:

      https://www.artstation.com/artwork/personal-work-2

      Again, there is nothing to suggest that Taylor obtained permission to use this art.

      I did searches on a number of his other graphics. I was unable to trace any of them back to the “royalty-free, public usage, and other non-copyrighted sources” you mention.

      Plus, the book covers I posted above – including the one featuring uncredited art by Anastasia Kozlova – are still available on Amazon.

      In other words, I have every reason to remain suspicious of this man.

      REPLY
      • Annette@Doris V. Sutherland
        May 19, 2016, 7:04 pm

        First, thank you. Though, I believe these images are not signed by the accused in any way. I also realize that story, if it were me, I would be mad too. Though, you will never prove in a court of law that the character is actually you. I wouldn’t like that either. Some of the art is fan art sent to him by some filmmaker out of France, and a guy called BleedingCritic on one of the pages in his blog. No matter how mad you may get, pointing fingers, you have four pointing back to you. I think the image count is up to 15.11 billion images. I notice that your images are not copy protected via metadata by some authoritative company. Taylor’s latest stuff is indeed copyrighted and can be easily validated by the authorizing company with all kinds of information.

        Your art, though, nothing I care to steal since you like throwing that term around a lot and making some bad accusations shows no proof at all that you actually did the work. You didn’t even sign the work. Also on some of those images, you have not done your due diligence. Some of these signed artists have stolen the work from older images tracing back into the late 1990’s and so much earlier.

        How can an artist signing work have claimed to have done so when twenty years before created it first?

        This is a very interesting discussion and shows how bitter you are about this person you know absolutely nothing of. I do know of him, not directly but he lives about 45 miles away from my husband and me.

        Did you know that Douglas S. Taylor won a criminal court case against the United States Government and his work, some kind of zero-based renewable device creating electricity to power an entire home was seized by said agencies? He was using a Tesla principle for a small clinic in Kenya where Douglas was at so very long ago?

        I bet you didn’t know that Mr. Taylor, a decorated war veteran sued the United States Government and won. His money after his legal fees was well in the upper six digits. He then turned right around and built a free HS Wi-Fi hotspot for his town?

        Then he purchased all the computer equipment for the local library. This is not all. He purchased two new complete handicap vans one for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and brand new van delivered to the Youth Center all fully loaded. You can imagine the costs of these specialized vehicles. Plus his donations to some very needy volunteer groups. I am told he drives around in an old car and an old pickup truck.

        I know his wife very well. What happens if I make contact with Mr. Taylor and ask him to remove that story and those banners of yours?

        I bet you didn’t even try to ask him. I bet you never even contacted him about anything.

        He seems that he never makes any mention of all that he does, and I can understand why he truly is an American Hero that served his county. Yes, a real hero, a Bronze Star that he never really talks about. Now he’ll talk to you about his Humanitarian Awards and his Youth Soccer Leagues, both boys, and girls. Yes, he purchased a new van for each of the teams.

        Can you also prove to me that he signed, personally or digitally signed any work that did not belong to him?

        I bet you can’t and I bet you won’t. Here in America, if Mr. Taylor signed someone else’s work then he could stand in court for it.
        Now how justified is this entire smear campaign of yours because this is what it is, isn’t it. Also, I noticed that some of the material used you lifted from another blogger in England. I see no permission. As as far as I can see, legally, you and your blogger buddy fabricated a lot of nothing.

        Show me a signature, show me proof of this man doing such evil in this world where you spend so much petty hatred upon?

        Don’t you have better things to do?
        Can’t you not be a positive asset to those around you making for a brighter impact?

        I am a corporate lawyer in Rapid City and Doris I can tell you even in England, you don’t have a ghost of a chance of getting away with your campaign and accusations.

        Let me ask you this and you don’t need to respond. What do you do with your royalties in the betterment of your community?

        I want to thank you for allowing my response and I will call Mr. Taylor to include an email from my office. Would this help?
        Annette

        REPLY
        • Doris V. Sutherland@Annette
          May 20, 2016, 6:30 am

          You claim that the artists I mention are themselves plagiarists, but you don’t provide evidence.

          You claim that I’ve stolen from another blog, but you don’t provide evidence.
          I don’t know if Taylor has personally signed any of the art that he’s posted on his blog (other than pasting his company logo onto it) but he has previously claimed legal ownership of multiple images from various sources. For example, look at this archived version of his old blog:

          https://web.archive.org/web/20140110144137/http://dwellc.wordpress.com/

          Notice the disclaimer saying “all images and content is own by DarkWorks Entertainment” (the atrocious grammar is Taylor’s, not mine). Above that disclaimer is a banner showing a photograph of the Finnish tattoo artist Sara Fabel – she’s the woman with blood all over her jaw, can’t miss her. Did Taylor obtain permission to use Fabel’s image? Does he have any legal right to claim that “all images and content is own by DarkWorks Entertainment” beneath her photograph?

          The same page has an image of a zombie family that I was able to trace to a DeviantArt account called ShockStudios:

          http://shockstudios.deviantart.com/art/Meet-the-Family-149341355

          And seriously, you expect me to believe that Douglas S. Taylor invented a renewable energy source that can power an entire home? Why hasn’t he put it on the market?

          I also have a hard time believing that you’re a lawyer. Aside from your shaky understanding of basic legal concepts (such as, y’know, evidence) you simply don’t write like a lawyer. The legal profession is one that prioritises precise language, not the rambling drivel that fills your posts.
          In fact, I can’t help but notice that your writing style is suspiciously similar to that of Doug Taylor himself…

          REPLY
    • Claire Napier@Annette
      May 20, 2016, 11:06 am

      She can’t move on with her life, didn’t you read the piece? She rode her scooter off a very dangerous road and–

      REPLY
      • Annette@Claire Napier
        May 20, 2016, 5:05 pm

        Evidently not. A very scornful and hateful person this Doris is. She is certainly prone to slander and defamation of character. Taylor is covered by the 1st Amendment and though it may seem that he wrote this piece in the question of her but it stands legally inside the law.

        Now I am being accused by this person, Doris of being Mr. Taylor?
        I am being questioned that I am a corporate lawyer?
        How sick.
        How contrite.
        How petty.
        I have taken snapshots of everything said and sending this all to Mr. Taylor for review.

        How many magazines, papers and such have stock images, fair usage, a purchased images altered if at all being used and this person are just after DarcWorX and Mr. Taylor

        Oh and the bad grammar bit, now that is rich, Doris.

        Annette

        REPLY
  • DMaster
    May 12, 2016, 10:35 pm

    I am sorry, woman. It’s hard to know what’s more bizarre, the level of hate or the persistence. Either way…damn.

    REPLY

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