Let's stop and talk for a second about parodies and satire.
All this talk about "OMG SLUGBOX YOU CAN'T USE COPYRIGHTED CHARACTERS IN A PRONO!" has led me to write a journal entry to you all about this. I've hung around the law school in town long enough to know how this works, and beyond that, went through PLENTY of research (weeks) to arrive at my decision to, in the future, release a My Little Pony inspired Pin-Up series. For sale. YES, I said for SALE.
As a GENERAL OVERVIEW, Parody falls under our First Amendment (that's freedom of speech) Rights. That's Fair Use law.
BUT!! You CAN'T just outright use copyright characters willy nilly and get away with it. That's not parody, that's theft and copyright violation. A PARODY MUST COMMENT ON AND REFERENCE ITS ORIGINAL MATERIAL TO BE LEGALLY CLASSIFIED AS PARODY, AND BE PROTECTED BY LAW. It must acknowledge it, to a clearly distinguishable extent! While you might THINK it's a good idea to "completely change names," it's often not. If you distance yourself too far from the source material, you run the risk of passing your product off as an original work. You DO NOT want to do that.
By the same token, material like official logos, words, and arts may NOT be used in a parody or satire!! Their likeness may be used though, assuming it's created anew for parodic purposes. A parody needs to openly embrace it's material to legally classify it as a parody. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be a little creative, though!FOR EXAMPLE:
"My Little Pony" translates, rather SEXILY... into "Mes Petites Juments: XXX" ("My Little Mares: XXX" in French, written in a cool rainbow techno font. I love typography still.) That's the SAME name almost, but it's a bit different. It CLEARLY states the source material, satirizes it into sassy French, AND clearly states the XXX nature of the title.Midnight Twinkle, Cinnajack, Scarcity, Punky Pea, Prismatic Flash, and Slutterfly
are also potential ways you could clearly state to viewers that this is satirical material based on "My Little Pony." YOU DON'T WANT TO PASS YOUR PARODY OFF AS ORIGINAL IN ANY WAY.
The movie "Transmorphers" (look it up, seriously) is probably in more danger of being in legal trouble than "STAR WARS XXX: PORN PARODY." "Transmorphers" attempts to mimic and pass off ideas from a certain other franchise as its own. That's potential copyright infringement. "STAR WARS XXX: PORN PARODY" even uses the word "STAR WARS", one of the most HEAVILY guarded phrases in the world... but it's COMPLETELY, and BLATANTLY a film which COMMENTS (although ridiculously) on Star Wars.
Parody and satire are very ANCIENT forms of communication, and are USUALLY used to to take an idea or message and turn it in upon itself, or distort that message. Traditionally, parody was used for the purpose of social debate and discussion, not entertainment! HOWEVER, just think about Robot Chicken or Family Guy. Family Guy runs Conway Twitty footage all day long, and it's ok. They're commenting (however shallowly) on the boredom of the situation. PARODY DOESN'T HAVE TO BE INTELLIGENT!! (though I love Family Guy). Parody can be used for entertainment, and porn is entertainment.
BATMAN XXX does the same thing! Yes, "BATMAN" is a word AND likeness owned by DC Comics. However, openly portraying Batman as a porn star undercover, or SNL running the Ambiguously Gay Duo, is protected by law. Your porno or a Robot Chicken sketch must NOT feign originality. It must CLEARLY BE IN REFERENCE TO A PRIOR WORK. So using the actual name of the property is IN YOUR BEST INTEREST.
That being said, I WILL NOT simply title the pin-up book "Hentai My Little Ponies." I will probably go with something similar to what I posted above. Some sexy French or something... I want it to be classier than RainbowTentacle, after all. Tasteful Rainbow Nudity! No Sex! I'll definitely make efforts to skew and distort the original property, but you won't look at it and think "MLP RIPOFF1" You'll think, MLP PIN-UPS!" Why do you think Playboy runs spreads with naked robot chicks on Tron Light Cycles or Pirates of the Carribean style girls? It's good parody. And good business. Trust me, DISNEY DID NOT APPROVE THAT TRON SPREAD!! But it's well within Hef's right to run that image. It didn't include any official logos (no infringement there), but still made VERY clear the source material (that's parody)!
IN ADDITION, to this specific case some of you are freaking out about... As I'm strictly dealing with BG characters... well... did you know that Hasbro doesn't actually OWN most of those characters names? At least not yet...! most of them AREN'T EVEN OFFICIALLY NAMED!
Have you ever heard of a littttllleee tiny deviant named *reiq
? He's tiny. He runs this miniscule website with Samus, Tifa, Princess Peach, Zelda, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, and pretty much every game and anime character EVER on it. You PAY him to to see those characters NAKED. ******* and **** and **** with **** *** eighteen times **** with a parking ticket. Those are NOT his characters or properties. HOWEVER, he clearly references and and makes pornographic light of a copyrighted idea. He parodies those ideas and properties. That's a first amendment right!!
They don't have to be INTELLIGENT or INSIGHTFUL to be PARODIES or SATIRE. You can skew properties in sexual ways, and that counts as a comment on, and thus, parody of, that property. A little humor doesn't hurt, though. In fact, it's recommended. As I'll state a lot, I think sexual satire is the most effective and definitive use of the word satire.
Color swapping Samus into a yellow bodysuit with blue hair and naming her Sumas would PROBABLY be RISKIER than just flat out drawing her with a ****** **** in her pooper. At least then Nintendo can't say you're ripping off her image for the purposes of selling an action game. Nooooo... you're using it to make a statement about the character, or illicit a response different from her original purpose.
In fact, selling Fan Art prints is a REAL problem. That's often illegal!! If you want to draw Spike and Vicious fighting... well... that's the show anyway! You're just taking Sunrise's characters and repackaging them for profit! Portraying a skewed viewpoint of an existing property is ok, though. Spike and Vicious KISSING... that's probably fine, but you want to put WORK and EFFORT into your parody, not just single images everywhere.
NOT OK TO SELL: A print of Megatron beating down Starscream.
PARODY: Selling a doujinshi comic of "Megagrind" beating... ... ... just beating... ... "Starsplit"
NOT OK TO SELL: A remake of Dark Crystal that you made with bad puppets.
PARODY: YO, THIS IS THE STORY OF THE DARK... CRYSTAAAAAAALLLLL!!! I'MMA GET UP IN KIRA'S ASS!
NOT OK TO SELL: Use the force, Luke...
PARODY: Homer... use... the... FORK! THE FORK!!
NOT OK TO SELL: You are, and always have been... my friend.
PARODY: You are, and always have been... more than a friend... *kissing sounds*
NOT OK TO SELL: Old movies and shows that do not belong to you.
PARODY: PANTY! STOCKING! PANTY PANTY STOCKING!!
NOT OK TO SELL: Footage from the old Doom game.
PARODY: Having Stewie ride his tricycle through it.
NOT OK TO SELL: DOCTOR BENTON QUEST!!
PARODY: GO TEAM VENTURE!!!
NOT OK TO SELL: THE PREDATOR!!!
PARODY: AQQUUAA UUNNITT PAATROOOLLL SQAAUUDD... OONNEEE!! TONIGHT'S EPISODE... THE CREDITOR!!!
NOT OK TO SELL: PRINCESS PEACH
NOT OK TO SELL: Pride and Prejudice but reworded.
PARODY: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE... ZOMBIES.
NOT OK TO SELL: Gone with the Wind
PARODY: The Wind Done Gone
NOT OK TO SELL: Tron. DISNEY's Tron, no less!
PARODY: Playboy's naked sexy ladies in Tron-inspired outfits on lightcycles: [link]
NOT OK TO SELL: Traced or referenced artwork, digital or printed, of My Little Pony characters.
PARODY: Re-envisioned, but clearly distinguishable as My Little Pony-inspired, as related through visuals or writing, sexy humanized pin-ups of said characters.
You can clearly identify what is based on. It is not only an OBVIOUSLY SKEWED VIEWPOINT on the material... but uses absolutely NO copyrighted imagery. In fact, it pokes fun at that imagery! Look at the ridiculous logo!!
I am confident in my parodic efforts to skew a property with sufficient hilarity, and feel more than secure in my freedom of speech rights to challenge and skew things, and even charge for such visual opinions, like any reporter, illustrator, artist, critic, editor, or writer. Does it seriously look like these are actually cartoon horses? Or that there's ANY unlicensed use of specific imagery ANYWHERE in this (because that IS piracy and illegal)? This is taken PRETTY FAR from the source material, while clearly being something 100% different in intent and nature. I can't think of a better parody than making something sexual that is NOT.
And in case you're just stupid... That's why every page says that any likenesses or name are uses in a parodic or fictitious manner.
I also know that Hasbro themselves have one of the most tolerant and embracing policies towards their fans. That's why Botcon has such an enormous UNLICENSED TRANSFORMER section, and online, and why that's such a successful business... for parties OTHER than Hasbro.
It brings in fans for them; builds rapport with them. HEXATRON is NOT SIXSHOT... he's better, yeah. But he's clearly a homage to him. It's maybe not much of a satire, and it in more danger of being criticized than I am, but the last thing you want to do to your fans is start turning on them. It's not a good look.
So PLEASE... RELAX. Take a Xanax. Everything's Fine. No one is getting arrested.
And Lauren, if you ever read this, I'm a huge fan. Not just of your newest efforts, but you in general. Foster's pride.
...and yeah... have you seen JAPAN'S TAKE ON PARODY USE...? Oh dear LOORDD... Everyone's getting laid!