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Better Copyright Through Fair Use and Ponies 169

Posted by samzenpus
from the omg-fair-use dept.
Balinares writes "With even harmless parody sites like Peanutweeter now getting shut down by twitchy lawyers in the name of brand dilution concerns, the situation with fair use has become bleak. Yet some companies are learning at last. Variery reports that when parodies of their latest production started popping up online, Hasbro not only allowed it to happen, but started contributing some of their own. Now their My Little Pony reboot has gained a huge following and reached cult status. Fair use does make everything better. That, or it's the ponies."
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Better Copyright Through Fair Use and Ponies

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  • Bleak. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @12:17AM (#36904328)

    the situation with fair use has become bleak

    The situation with fair use has always been bleak. It doesn't help that its an amorphous concepts--uncertainty in the law makes it hard to comply with and has a chilling effect on free speech.

    The situation with copyright generally has gone from bad to worse. It used to be it was only a civil offense if a violation was non-commercial. Now it's a criminal violation if the infringement exceeds a certain dollar value--so quoting a song lyric on a medium-sized listserve is arguably enough to make you a felon.

    • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @12:25AM (#36904376)

      The situation with fair use has always been bleak. It doesn't help that its an amorphous concepts

      ... as shown by my polymorphic number disagreement and apostrophe-limited analysis... time to get some sleep. :)

    • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:13AM (#36905098) Homepage

      The situation with fair use has always been bleak. It doesn't help that its an amorphous concepts--uncertainty in the law makes it hard to comply with and has a chilling effect on free speech.

      Of course, it has to be: any use could be fair, though no use necessarily is. It's totally dependent on the circumstances of the particular case. A bright line rule would inevitably reduce the scope of fair use. Given that it's been applied to uses that were unforeseen at the time that the doctrine was established, or when a codified version appeared, it's been good to have elasticity.

      If you want bright line rules, that's fine, just get a separate exception in the statute to cover that particular case. For example, no one ever argues that selling used books is a fair use, because it is handled separately under the first sale exception. Something like a 'non-commercial use by a natural person' exception would be fine, it just demands being handled apart from fair use is all.

      • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:45AM (#36906226)
        It may be best expressed under a different doctrine, but I would think that a nice, clear set of rules exists for which a use is unquestionably deemed fair, and that anybody that has the gall to sue under something within that box is hit with hefty fines. For more ambiguous usage, we'd still have the four factor test.
        • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:10AM (#36907660) Homepage

          If they're unquestionably fair, it strikes me that unfair things might occasionally slip by; the point of the present system is to sort out what is fair from what isn't, difficult as it may be to tell, and dependant as it may be on subtle details. So it may be better to speak of the new exception as simply covering uses that would be non infringing.

          Out of curiosity, what currently infringing activities would you make non infringing? You may want two classes of them: plaintiffs may have adequate information to justify filing a lawsuit (it's not supposed to be done otherwise, though not every detail needs to be known in advance) without knowing that one of these new exceptions applies. And just because a defendant may claim that one applies (perhaps in advance of any lawsuit) that may not make it so. So maybe the "hefty fines" should only apply sometimes, or only for some of the exceptions and not others?

          • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:28AM (#36908830)
            What I had worked out was that total use of a work had to be 30 seconds or less of audio of a musical recording, 1 minute or less of audio/video, 500 gross words or less of text, or a cover at 1/4 or less of the physical resolution. In addition, outside of covers, the usage must be less than 10% of the work in total, and isn't protected if it's part of a 'concerted effort' (i.e. 11 parties host consecutive 30 second samples of the same 3:24 song) In at least music, the work must be 'of a different nature' than the original work. In other words, this defense does not apply to sampling.

            The exact numbers could be tweaked a bit (and probably should), but it seems like a solid basis for a safe zone where people won't have to worry at all. Within these terms, I don't see any real room for usage to be unfair, the biggest concern being a possibility for ambiguity in the way certain bands gamed label contracts by making songs like 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' technically consist of 9 parts to get the full royalties for the album.
            • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:21PM (#36912326) Homepage

              So long as it does not substitute for fair use, I suppose I don't have any complaints, though I might differ as to the numbers involved, the types of works it's applicable to, etc. It generally doesn't seem too useful to me, though. Academic quotations might fall under this, but I don't think a good commercial review would.

              (Incidentally, for a typical 3 minute song, you'd really only get 18 seconds, which is very low indeed)

              Not sure why you are dismissive of sampling. While it really ought to be a fair use -- sampling is the audio form of collage, after all, and that is well protected -- the poor treatment of sampling in the courts really does warrant a strong exception for it.

              Within these terms, I don't see any real room for usage to be unfair

              You dealt with amount, but you forgot about
              substantiality [wikimedia.org].

              • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:07PM (#36915012)
                I certainly don't intend for this to substitute fair use, rather to supplement it.

                as for sampling, Bridgeport was far too strict on it, but sampling 30 seconds of master recordings probably isn't going to fly. A good set of ground rules for sampling would probably be nice, though.

                substantially is a complex matter, although it seems quite likely that had The Nation not been the first publisher, they would have gotten away with it (that and those meddling kids). Not applying this safe zone to usurping the first publication rights might be the best answer. I'm not sure if you could even reasonably come up with a bright line rule for substantially, but if we are conservative with amount, substantiality concerns would probably be minimal.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:52AM (#36905296)

      Bullshit. Your "always" is probably about 20 years by 3300 x 2006 miles "big".

      There was no copyright anywhere before about 100-150 years ago. And creativity prospered. Not despite, but because of that fact. As multiple studies have shown, that compared the already-in-copyright UK with still-no-Urheberrecht Germany (which still doesn't have copyright but the equivalent to authors' right, which can't be given away and is always implied on everything).

      The problem with things like "fair use", the GPL, CC, etc is, that they acknowledge the existence of copyright in the first place. So they acknowledge the delusion, and their thoughts are inside its model of reality. Which is like trying to stop drug abuse by spreading other drugs that don't harm anymore but still are addictive. Not. A. Solution.

      I ended the whole thing. Whatever I create, is created as a service. I demand money for doing the service. You know... actual work. And when it's done, I don't have to give a fuck about who does what to it. (Ok, actually, the more it spreads, the better for me. :)

      Copyright is the same as asking money for not doing any more actual work.
      And "fair use" is like saying: "Well, actually, our not doing any more work is still worth something, but we'll make an exception for you".
      It's not worth anything in the first place! Because you've done nothing more in return!

      • by Sique (173459) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @05:50AM (#36905748) Homepage

        Interestingly there are very creative industries who don't have any copyright at all, namely cookery and fashion. You can't neither copyright a recipe nor a fashion design, and I never heard of a crisis of either industries. And no, Coca Cola's recipe is not copyrighted, you have every right to take it and brew your own soda.

        • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:22AM (#36907126)

          Coca Cola's recipe is a trade secret, and it would be patented if it weren't a trade secret. Copyright has nothing to do with it.

          Cookery and Fashion Design (1) do not cost a hundred million to make a product, and (2) in the case of fashion, where you buy something is a huge status symbol. There's not the same need to incentivize new works.

        • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:38AM (#36907298)

          Not this stupid argument again. For cookery, there are two markets: making your own food, and prepared food. In the making your own food market we have cookbooks. They, and the recipes in them (except for the lists of ingredients) are in fact protected by copyright. In the prepared food area the recipes are protected by trade secret - they just don't tell you what the recipe is. If the recipe is really unique, you can patent it. Your example of Coca Cola is perfect - you MAY duplicate Coke, but in over a hundred years of trying no-one has succeeded.

          In fashion, we again have two markets: mass market, and haute couture. Any IP that exists in the mass market is protected by trademark (branding). The mass market companies are not investing much in design, they just copy each other and try to convince people to buy their version by marketing the brand (differentiating on quality, cool factor, etc). In haute couture, the value is in being different. There is no point in one designer copying another's work, because that is not what the customers want.

          Neither of these industries are anything like industries protected by copyright. You can't keep a book, recording, or movie a trade secret and still sell it like you can with prepared food. There is no value in branding books, recordings, or movies, because every copy is exactly the same as the other copies.

          Every industry has some kind of protection for its IP.

          • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:15AM (#36908634) Homepage

            In the making your own food market we have cookbooks. They, and the recipes in them (except for the lists of ingredients) are in fact protected by copyright.

            Copyright (in the US, at least) doesn't apply to procedures, though it may apply to a particular expression of them. (So for example, a book that explains how to do double-entry bookkeeping may be copyrightable, but anyone else can write their own book that explains precisely the same thing)

            Furthermore, where there is only one or are only a few reasonable ways to express an procedure, those expressions are not copyrightable due to the merger, lest they effectively provide a copyright on the underlying, uncopyrightable procedure. Nor are stock expressions that are typical of a genre copyrightable, due to the scÃnes à faire doctrine. So the portions of a recipe to the effect of "mix well" or "serves 4" or "cook until brown" wouldn't be protectable.

            Really, the best you can hope for for a typical recipe that is clearly written, straightforward, and all business, is a copyright that protects it from verbatim copying; even then anyone could rewrite it (in many cases without having to change much of the wording per the above paragraph) and not infringe. And I wouldn't want to bet money that even that level of protection could be obtained.

            Really, about the only substantially copyrightable things in a cookbook are 1) the photographs (if any) that accompany the recipe to show you what the food should look like, and 2) the selection and arrangement of recipes, provided that it rises to the level of copyrightability (and this only protects the compilation, not the individual recipes themselves).

            Your example of Coca Cola is perfect - you MAY duplicate Coke, but in over a hundred years of trying no-one has succeeded.

            I doubt that. Pepsi is probably entirely capable of it, but why would they? Even the most shell-shocked veteran of the infamous Cola Wars [theonion.com] knows that the point was always differentiation. If they all tasted the same, there'd be a huge loss in brand loyalty.

            You can't keep a book, recording, or movie a trade secret and still sell it like you can with prepared food.

            Computer software source code, if you only sell the binaries?

            • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:39AM (#36909006)

              True enough about the cookbook recipes. But how many 'new' recipes are in cookbooks? New recipes seem to either take the form of 'tastes like this dish available at this restaurant', and recipes put out by food companies so you buy their ingredients. Neither one of those care about protection of IP (if protectable, the first would be a violation, and the second one they want as widespread as possible).

              Coca Cola and Pepsi want to differentiate themselves from each other, but there are loads of generic and local brands that try to copy one or the other of those, always poorly.

              If computer source code is kept secret there is no need for copyright protection on the source. I have never heard of anyone being sued for copyright violation of trade secret source. Of course, the binaries still need protection.

              • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:46PM (#36912670) Homepage

                But how many 'new' recipes are in cookbooks?

                If you're talking about novelty (i.e. never has been done before), that's irrelevant for copyright purposes. Only originality (i.e. not copied from elsewhere, regardless of whether or not it's been done before) matters.

                If computer source code is kept secret there is no need for copyright protection on the source.

                That's never stopped them.

                I have never heard of anyone being sued for copyright violation of trade secret source.

                It's not really unusual for a licensor to end up suing its licensee regarding the copyright to software that, while a trade secret, the licensor was allowed to access.

                As for incidents where someone illicitly obtained the source, the only one that instantly comes to mind was NuPrometheus; that resulted in the FBI investigating, but I don't think anything came of it.

                Personally, I'd prefer to have mandatory registrations for published works, and to require a deposit formality to get the registration, and to have deposit include any supplemental information that the Library of Congress or the Copyright Office wish to also be included, in whatever form they specify. Thus, to get a copyright on a binary, you'd need to provide clear, well commented source code, instructions for compilation, hardware requirements, etc., which would be copyrighted, but not a secret. (Much like patented inventions must be disclosed, and can't be a secret)

                In this way, we would advance the public policy of having works be useful to the public when they're in the public domain (since people would be able to get at and change the source), when they're copyrighted (since there is an exception to copyright that allows the owner of a copy of a computer program (as distinct from the copyright holder) to modify it so that it can run on a system.

                Further, since copyright isn't meant to protect the functional aspects of software, this would avoid interference with the advancement of the art of computer programming, since people could inspect one another's software and learn from doing so. For most works, there's not the same sort of difference between the 'manuscript' if you will, and the published version, where literary techniques or the like are used in one but not visible in the other. Software is a special case, and so it's acceptable to require more disclosure than merely a copy of the published work.

        • by slew (2918) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:51AM (#36907464)

          Fashion design is actually a field that uses copyright heavily.

          Although IANAL, the way I understand it is the basic test is that although most fashion design fails the intrinsic utilitarian test for copyright, if the designer included pictoral, graphic, or sculptural features, those elements of the design are available for copyright protection.

          As a specific example, although you can mostly copy the general size and shape of a pair of glasses, if the designer embeds a sculpture on the design or a designer specific pattern which serves no functional purpose (e.g, like oakley has an embedded O sculpted in their frame designs, or gucci which has a G), that design for that pair of glasses can be copyrighted.

          That's why you see designers spray their logos or other design elements all over their items these days. It's to ward off the "exact" duplicate knockoffs. Since it is not possible to copyright design elements that are actually intrinsically useful, they deliberatly put in stuff that is not functional into their designs.

          As for the recipies, although you can't copyright the recipe for coca cola, you can't sell you soda in a bottle shaped like the classic coca cola bottle, because that bottle is copyrighted as it includes design elements that are not necessary for its function as a bottle.

          • by Migraineman (632203) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:12AM (#36908582)
            I you wanted to write a book on the pop-culture impact of the Coca Cola soda bottle (no pun intended,) you'd still need to get copyright permission from Coca Cola to use the imagery, short of technical schematics. You can't create your own "pop culture" art from the era as an alternative. Writing a PhD thesis would be fine - it's an academic use - but as soon as you publish it in exchange for money, you run afoul of our busted copyright system. And this bustedness will persist until 100 or so years after you and I are dead.

            Copyright is supposed to be a contract between we-the-people and authors/artists/performers. They get a limited-time monopoly to control their work, then it reverts to the public domain to benefit everyone. So, exactly, when to we benefit from our part of the bargain?
          • by Sique (173459) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @05:48PM (#36914228) Homepage

            As I said: It's not the fashion design that is copyrightable. It's the picture, the sculpture or whatever has copyright protection also outside of fashion, which is protected. The design, the cut, the fabric chosen, the colors - they aren't copyrightable, not even in the context of the given combination.

          • by Repossessed (1117929) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:14PM (#36917290)

            As a specific example, although you can mostly copy the general size and shape of a pair of glasses, if the designer embeds a sculpture on the design or a designer specific pattern which serves no functional purpose (e.g, like oakley has an embedded O sculpted in their frame designs, or gucci which has a G), that design for that pair of glasses can be copyrighted.

            IANAL and all, but I'm pretty sure those are trademarks and not copyright. That O is there so the consumer knows whats an Oakley and whats a (non counterfeit) knock off. Actually, I'm also pretty sure the coke bottle falls under trade dress. Trademark (and dress) have totally different rules than copyright.

      • by elsurexiste (1758620) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:24AM (#36907146) Journal

        Which is like trying to stop drug abuse by spreading other drugs that don't harm anymore but still are addictive. Not. A. Solution.

        Actually, it is exactly how to treat opioid addictions: transition to a more manageable drug, namely methadone.

      • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:25AM (#36907168)

        Yes, so who will pay you enough to make it worth your while in the first place? Without copyright or patent, the money available to the producer of a work is much smaller, so really expensive works, including many prescription drugs and blockbuster motion pictures, will not get made. A agree it's over-done, and there should be shorter copyright terms, but modern society will function better with copyright than without. (Patent included because it has the same issues.)

        You are basically going with a purely Lockean earned-income approach. That's a legitimate philosophy, but there are cases where it isn't the best thing for society.

        • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:21AM (#36907784)
          It's actually a bit more complicated than that, as a lot of the costs associated with producing an innovative product are licensing from others. The pharmaceutical argument is pure junk. Under Bayh-Dole, Pharmaceutical companies are having the government front most of the bill anyway, and are shifting focus of research (and federal research funds) to low priority drugs that aren't particularly useful to society, but can bring in signficant profits.
      • by cpt kangarooski (3773) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:42AM (#36908110) Homepage

        here was no copyright anywhere before about 100-150 years ago.

        Well... it was invented in England in 1710 (assuming we're talking about modern copyright and not the very different stationer's copyright that predates it), and started showing up in the United States in 1783, and a different sort appeared in France in 1793. So, they're a bit older than 100-150 years, but it's true that they mostly spread via colonialism, and the 19th century was really a golden age for that.

        Regarding your main argument, I disagree. I think that if properly formulated, copyright can provide a benefit to the public greater than its cost to the public; the issue is holding onto that ideal formulation and avoiding corruption. But I suppose that it's possible that under the right circumstances copyright might never provide a net public benefit. Only in that case would I support abolition, which is why that option should remain on the table.

      • by bws111 (1216812) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:13AM (#36908600)

        Ah yes, the good old pre-copyright days. How many books did the average person own in those days? How many concerts, operas, plays did the average person attend in his lifetime? How many wandering musicians stopped by to play different songs every day? On the other hand, how many books do you own? How many different songs have you heard today? How many movies and TV shows have you seen this month?

        I get paid every two weeks. That covers the work I did in the previous two weeks. Under your idea, I should not get paid, because that money is for something that happened in the past, and I don't have to do any more work THIS week to earn LAST weeks pay. Sounds stupid, doesn't it?

        If you are creating things 'as a service' then by definition you are not creating mass market goods. How would you get paid 'as a service' for writing a novel?

        The creation of mass market goods (including their development) is ALWAYS paid for when the consumer buys it. It doesn't matter if you are talking about a book, a movie, a cheeseburger, a pair of jeans, a car, a computer, or anything else. And the more you sell, the more money you make. And making money is why the thing was made in the first place. Stop trying to act like things protected by copyright are somehow paid for differently than any other consumer good.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @12:42AM (#36904466)

    Ponies make everything better!

    (Seriously though, make-show-to-sell-toys is a good analogue for make-mp3s-to-sell-merch-and-concert-tickets for musicians, so it works out).

  • Brony here (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ChromeAeonium (1026952) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @12:47AM (#36904498)

    Just before everyone starts hating, it isn't all that bad. I'm normally more a fan of a bit more violent programming, but it is a unique change of pace (and does have the occasional joke that would go over it's target audience's head...good night folks!), and MLP kinda grows on you. Yeah, go figure. I'm not saying it's for everyone, nor am I saying it would be my absolute first choice of cartoon, but don't knock if you haven't tried it.

    • by Apothem (1921856) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @12:58AM (#36904548)
      You make it sound like it's a drug or something......
    • by king neckbeard (1801738) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @12:58AM (#36904550)
      I haven't tried it, so I won't knock it. I will however, stand over there uncomfortably when others are discussing MLP .

      Adult targeted jokes in children's shows, either through secretly naughty bits, pop culture references children won't get, or best of all, secretly naughty pop culture reference bits children won't get, are quite enjoyable, although I'm not sure if I can reach the same appreciation without it being a show I watched as a kid myself.
      • Re:Brony here (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:42AM (#36904704)

        I haven't tried it, so I won't knock it. I will however, stand over there uncomfortably when others are discussing MLP .

        That's how it starts [photobucket.com] with everyone. It's OK.

        The more beautiful and pure a thing is, the more satisfying it is to corrupt it, but the point of Remix Culture [wikipedia.org] is that the listener/viewer is no longer sure as to what's corrupting what.

        To that end, I've actually never seen more than a few seconds of the actual show, but who could resist Weird Al Yankovic doing 80s pop songs? Polkas on 45 [youtube.com]? 30 years later, someone drops a new meme on it, turns a parody into a parody of a parody, and suddenly it's funny all over again.

        Just yesterday [slashdot.org], Pinkie Pie herself showed up in the as an example of how not to do software testing [akamai.net] on the GitHub Bumblebee thread [github.com] on software testing, I think it's OK to admit it. I think the MLP viral fad is funny. I enjoy it. There, I've said it, and I feel better.

        After the Presidential Press Conference [youtube.com] announcing the long-overdue demise of OBL, watching the trailer for Serenity [youtube.com], the lead single [youtube.com] and polka track [youtube.com] off the new Weird Al album, Reggie Watts [youtube.com], Wu-Tang [youtube.com], or Rebecca Black [youtube.com] (just kidding) sung by ponies, you won't care.

        All links SFW graphics, a few naughty words, and thoroughly NSFS (Not Safe For Sanity).

      • Re:Brony here (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:14AM (#36905112) Homepage Journal

        You got the old preconception of "hidden concept aimed at adults". While MLP has some cultural references, it remains quite tame both on the obvious and non-obvious layer. The hidden part is in "inconsistencies". There are some not-quite-obvious plot holes. Parts, where a character could act, according to the archetype they represent, and prevent all the trouble, yet they didn't and hilarity occurs. And later in the show, similarly inconsistent behavior on the part of the character is displayed with a little more visibility. And near the end, in all obviousness. And as you begin to notice the archetype is a facade for a completely different archetype, suddenly the old events click into place, and the behavior becomes not an awkward omission, but very a intentional act, that adds a whole new layer on the old episode, the story completely retold with a twist.

        Just to say the gentle and wise Princess Celestia fully deserved the brony nickname "Trollestia".

      • Re:Brony here (Score:4, Informative)

        by elsurexiste (1758620) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:43AM (#36906728) Journal

        My brother is a brony, and he made me watch the show. The first episode I saw is the one in which Pinky Pie goes schizophrenic... yeah, you read it right. I didn't expect this kind of content, so it was quite a shock. The next one was Rarity making dresses, essentially a joke on professions like ours: everyone asked for changes, time was ticking, unhelpful customers, freaking out and messing up... This, once again, surprised me: shows for the little people are devoid of content or flavor, like a rice cracker; MLP had instead some major stuff going on. Not all episodes are like this, mind you, and I haven't seen them all (nor planning to). Just don't discard it just like that! It's not like Rocko's Modern Life, where sexual references are small and sparse, in MLP the interesting themes (shall we call them adult?) work along the plot.

        I would argue though that the best thing MLP brought to the world is the OC that flooded 4chan for a while. Also, this [youtube.com].

        • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:38PM (#36910702)

          The first episode I saw is the one in which Pinky Pie goes schizophrenic... yeah, you read it right.

          Worth noting (for anyone curious) that every one of the six main characters has at least a short scene where they suffer some severe problem of that sort. Looked like quiet, sweet, loving, friend-to-all-animals Fluttershy was going to get away without one. And then the season finale happened and she earned the nicknames "Flutterrage" and "Psychoshy".

          Essentially, every pony has their special talents that help them shine. Fairly standard kid show stuff, but this series occasionally inverts that by showing that if their special talent is consistently frustrated it has rapidly-mounting negative effects for the pony's psychological health. So it's a cartoon about friendship and rainbows with occasional catatonia, schizophrenia, psychosis, dangerous workaholism, delusional breaks from reality, and nervous breakdowns.

          Personally the show initially gained my respect by using mythological creatures, and giving them the right names. I saw a silhouetted monster and said "Hey, that looks like a manticore." Sure enough, they called it a manticore! There's stuff they made up, too (heh, diamond dogs), but I really did not expect to see reasonably accurate phoenixes, manticores, hydra, and cockatrices in a show like this.

          • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @03:49PM (#36912710) Homepage

            Worth noting (for anyone curious) that every one of the six main characters has at least a short scene where they suffer some severe problem of that sort. Looked like quiet, sweet, loving, friend-to-all-animals Fluttershy was going to get away without one. And then the season finale happened and she earned the nicknames "Flutterrage" and "Psychoshy".

            Fluttershy was well on her way to a reputation as the secretly most-dangerous pony in the show after the episodes 'Stare Master' and 'Dragonshy'.

            What I love about this show is that, despite it ostensibly being for little girls, it's actually a show about a superhero team. The analogues to the X-Men and Avengers are so obvious I'm convinced they were deliberately planted. (Twilight's powers were activated in 'Celestia's School for Gifted Unicorns', in a scene very much like how Professor X restrained Jean Grey.) The subtext of the show is meaty and compelling. Kids can accept the surface story, that Twilight Sparkle accidentally met the perfect ponies to activate the Elements of Harmony. But adults put the clues together and notice that Celestia engineered all those events, for some purpose that is, if not sinister, at least well-calculated and subtle.

            This show has adult male fans because it's a superhero show, with characterization and plotlines that are surprisingly deep. Hasbro gets credit for allowing the fans to go nuts and be creative.

            • by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:07PM (#36916346)

              Fluttershy was well on her way to a reputation as the secretly most-dangerous pony in the show after the episodes 'Stare Master' and 'Dragonshy'.

              Yeah, but she was up against hostile (or at least threatening) beings there. At the Gala, she just went nuts.

              What I love about this show is that, despite it ostensibly being for little girls, it's actually a show about a superhero team.

              Well, IIRC Lauren Faust did say she disliked the original G1 shows because when she played with her G1 MLP toys they went on adventures and didn't defeat their enemies by teaching them to share or by crying at them. .

        • by Weedhopper (168515) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:05PM (#36916318)
          Above comment (currently at Score:4, Informative) could be 20% cooler.
      • by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @11:21AM (#36908712) Homepage Journal

        Oh, I haven't noticed the thing at the end of your post, "the show you haven't watched as a kid". Nope. Most of Bronies didn't watch original MLP or at most watched a couple episodes and gave up. The general consensus is that the old show sucked bad. There are crossover fanfics that mock the old show mercilessly. You absolutely don't need to have watched the old show, and you'd get weird looks if you said you liked it... because, honestly, it WAS bad, even for a kids show.

  • nt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shentino (1139071) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:01AM (#36904566)

    Fair use as a defense has absolutely NOTHING to do with why our rights in the digital world are going away.

    The fact is even if you are on rock solid legal ground, you are first of all hamstrung by a severe cost advantage corporations possess by virtue of their large legal budgets and chances are you'll get drilled into the ground and bankrupted before you survive a trial, and second of all your fate is in the hands of twelve people that are probably going to be complete morons about copyright law, thanks to the plaintiff's attorney's striking anyone with even a clue of how things work.

    Consequently, anyone who would in theory be entitled to make a parody, satire, or other such fair use of a copyrighted work will, if facing the wrath of a corporation that wishes to censor them, find themselves fighting a huge battle even if the law is on their side, and will more often than not either settle and cough up protection money rather than get bruised in court, or simply not take the risk in the first place.

    Big media, knowing this, sees no downside to suing the crap out of anyone and everyone that even remotely looks like they are infringing, and they have no incentive to be reasonable or even negotiate with the smallest semblance of good faith. Compared to an indigent defendant they have nothing to lose from being wrong, whereas the defendant has plenty to lose even if they are completely right.

    Bleem is a prime example. They paid for their victory with their lives, as the cost of being sued by Sony wound up bankrupting them, and they never had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their battle, and they serve as a stern warning to any who would dare defy Sony in the future.

    • by nine932038 (1934132) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:55AM (#36904738)

      I've occasionally wondered why one doesn't simply set up shop in a country that has more equitable IP laws and a more balanced judicial system. It certainly seems like the US has a system that favours deep pockets, but I wonder if the same would be true in other countries. I'm fairly certain that having deeper pockets doesn't necessarily work as well in Canada as in the US, though I admit that my knowledge of legal procedure isn't much beyond microscopic.

    • by retroworks (652802) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:25AM (#36906118) Homepage Journal
      I agree, but over the longer term think this is blowback from allowing multi-million dollar lawsuits against major corporations in the 1970s and 80s. People with "nothing to lose" began bringing lawsuits (McDonalds! Your coffee is hot!) and the corporations began settling them based on the risk of a ruling going against them. The lawyers are like gun runners, they sell the leverage to either side when it is cheaper to give in than to contest.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:48AM (#36906262) Homepage Journal

      Lik-Sang is an even better example. They were nailed to the wall for the crimes of providing hardware permitting people to play backups and hardware permitting users to defeat region coding. They were sued so hard they couldn't even afford to show up in court.

      Lik-Sang: NEVER FORGET. Die, Sony, Die.

      I think the wisest thing is to just increase the volume of work. If that restricts it to low-hanging fruit, so be it. Put that material out there any way you can. Mock their icons at every turn.

  • by Code Yanker (2359188) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:03AM (#36904572)
    When you make a parody of something, think to yourself: "Would the average person (say, your own parents), having seen only the first 30 seconds of the parody, have any reason to suspect the parody was anything more than a parody?" If the answer is yes, your parody isn't fair-usey enough. At least that will be the instructions that the judge gives the jury. Be it right or be it wrong, that's how it works.
    • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:07AM (#36904590)

      When you make a parody of something, think to yourself: "Would the average person (say, your own parents), having seen only the first 30 seconds of the parody, have any reason to suspect the parody was anything more than a parody?"

      If the answer is yes, your parody isn't fair-usey enough. At least that will be the instructions that the judge gives the jury. Be it right or be it wrong, that's how it works.

      I would pay to see that written in a jury instruction. :)

      "Is the defendant's work fair-usey enough?"

      • by Code Yanker (2359188) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:26AM (#36904654)
        that's exactly why our legal system uses juries. For much of our law, it comes down to what a "reasonable person" thinks. And "reasonable person" is legalese for the agregate of six or more random shmoes we pulled off the street. The jury instructions are there to keep these shmoes from having to use legal critical thinking. It's actually a pretty clever system, I think.
        • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:20AM (#36907772) Homepage

          "Reasonable person" I understand. I can even accept "fair-usey enough" as a description. But what do you mean by "anything more than a parody"?

          Does a parody have to be also a work of art or a political statement in order to be legally acceptable? Or are those bad things? Is a parody supposed to look like an original work? You seem to be saying that the more original the parody, the less legal it is, which frankly just breaks my brain.

          Whatever. I may not understand copyright law, but I know when a company is behaving well, and Hasbro deserves a lot of kudos for their acceptance of the brony fandom.

  • Euphemisms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:04AM (#36904582) Homepage Journal

    parody sites like Peanutweeter now getting shut down by twitchy lawyers

    Lawyers can't do squat except write some fancy papers. The implied threat of violence from the government is what shut down Peanutweeter.

    I suggest going to buy stuff from James Hance [jameshance.com] now, before he gets put out of business too. I'll feel especially sorry for his daughter [jameshance.com] when that happens.

    • Re:Euphemisms (Score:2, Insightful)

      by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @02:21AM (#36904836)

      Typical anarchist bullshit. Yes, eventually, society does need to use force to enforce its laws. It's a last resort, but it must exist otherwise no laws would have any weight. That's the drawback of being physical creatures. But the only alternative is to have absolutely no laws at all. Only a crazy person would want that.

      The problem isn't that government exists. The problem is that wealthy people are able to twist the government to their liking.

      • by improfane (855034) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:15AM (#36907040) Journal

        If you think anarchism is about 'no laws' then you have no idea what you are talking about.

    • by Xacid (560407) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @10:25AM (#36907856) Journal

      Violence? Really, now?

    • by cforciea (1926392) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @07:44PM (#36915364)
      And the implied threat of government violence is what keeps people from creeping into your home and murdering you while you sleep. What's your point?
      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:00PM (#36915588) Homepage Journal

        And the implied threat of government violence is what keeps people from creeping into your home and murdering you while you sleep.

        That's silly on at least three fronts:
        1) people do get murdered in their sleep - fat lot of good that did.
        2) sometimes people get murdered by psychopaths. They don't care about consequences.
        3) knowing I'm probably armed is the best deterrent.
        4) moral people don't go around murdering

        The subset of people who would go a-murdering but decide not to because the cops might catch them is fleetingly small.

        What's your point?

        That it's not worth the human sacrifice of five million people a year to ensure that a dead guy's drawings can't be re-used because that might potentially risk some revenue stream to a corporation that holds a license.

        • by cforciea (1926392) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:38PM (#36916588)
          1) They do, but the risk is severely depressed.
          2) If they get caught and put in jail/executed, then they only kill as many people as they can get away with before they get caught. Without law enforcement, you could well be the 118th victim.
          3) Doubtful. Given a lack of law enforcement, my odds of successfully killing you in your home and getting away with it skyrocket no matter how big your arsenal is. Sure, my risk is trivially higher when I am in your home than if you weren't harmed, but nobody presumably has the resources to do anything about it if I finish the job.
          4) Good thing there are whole piles of people of dubious morality perfectly willing to harm you and your family. See: any place where there is no law enforcement for an extended period of time and regional warlords get to set up shop and systematically enslave, murder, and rape whomever they choose.

          The subset of people who would go a-murdering but decide not to because the cops might catch them is fleetingly small.

          You're so full of shit that your eyeballs are floating. The type of world you are advocating has existed innumerable times in history. In any populated area, it lasts very little time before the guy with the biggest bag of money/hugest tracts of land/most loyal followers assumes control. You are going to have a government, whether you like it or not. You might as well try to pick one that isn't a despotic dictator that uses rape as a tool of subjugation.

  • by mykepredko (40154) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @01:13AM (#36904608) Homepage

    I'm showing my age, but I still miss the "Dysfunctional Family Circus" and it is probably a great example of copyright owners shutting down a parody site rather than rolling with it.

    You could argue that it was over the top (dad as a drug addled, homosexual S&M freak) but I daresay it didn't damage the brand and, in my own case, it gave me reason to start looking at the strip again (I thought it was nauseating when I was 10 years old) simply to start thinking about captions to contribute.

    myke

  • by Pooua (265915) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @02:30AM (#36904886) Homepage

    Just a few days ago, I was thinking about making a parody of "My Little Pony," and I wondered what the legal repercussions might be.

  • by cheros (223479) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @02:56AM (#36905002)

    My compliments. It doesn't just lay down the problem properly, it also links to a YouTube video that would make any lesser brand manager nervous.

    Hats off to the copyright holders here: VERY smart move. I'm to old to say "Respek" but I'll do it anyway - I love remixes :-).

  • by mvdwege (243851) <mvdwege@mail.com> on Thursday July 28, 2011 @06:38AM (#36905884) Homepage Journal

    The last paragraph nails the problem:

    "Really it all comes down to a question of control for big media companies," McIntosh says. "They can either attempt to clamp down on remixers and fan communities or they can embrace the new creative digital world and see transformative works as a positive thing for their franchises."

    The question we should ask ourselves is: who owns the public discours? I think the keyword is 'public'. You put something out there to invite a reaction, then it should not be reasonable to expect to control it forever. Anything that is not blatant copyright violation or fraud should be fair game.

  • by thegeekprofessor (1700070) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @08:40AM (#36906696) Homepage
    I'm a "brony" (male in his 30's). I was already a huge animation fan to begin with, but I'm extremely picky. Very few "cartoons" are worth talking about, but the new version of My Little Pony is.. hard to describe in a short space. Let's just say that I consider the 2nd best American cartoon of all time. And it's only in season 1.
  • by gregthebunny (1502041) on Thursday July 28, 2011 @09:30AM (#36907210) Journal
    you're thinking with ponies!
  • Hasbro is a toy company. They own the "My Little Pony" IP, but the show, no matter how well done, it little more than a 22 minute toy commercial for them. They want to make money off the dolls. I'm sure if someone were selling "Your Little Pony" knockoff dolls Hasbro would be all over them like stink on rice.

    Although thats just my assumption, and Hasbro does seem to be pretty cool with people selling modified ponies [marikasurinen.com], although thats a completely separate legal issue, so who knows.

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