Penny-Arcade legal woes

For those of you not keeping track, Penny-Arcade is a flurry of mildly bitter activity, and perhaps not without reason. You see, a recent comic of their involving Strawberry Shortcake as a dominatrix (ultimately poking fun at American McGee for taking children's literature and tarting [sic] it up a bit) has been pulled from threats of litigation by the American Greeting Card Company, who apparenty owns the rights to Madame Shortcake. If you've ever visited the PA forums then you can imagine their poorly spelled response. If you haven't visited, then you might not want to start now. Naturally the best imagined reaction is to flood the e-mail address of the lackey whose job it was to tell PA that AGC wanted the comic pulled, but quick, with a stream of vulgar invective and electronically sign petitions that no one but those signing petitions would read. This will, naturally, accomplish a sum total of nothing.

The question here, though, is should AGC have the right to protect their intellectual property, or does PA represent and therefore should be protected by its satirical nature. The law is pretty fuzzy and inconsistent on this point, so what do you think?

I think if companies sued everytime someone used a character they ""owned"" in some non-related materials we''d never get anything done.

What that card company is doing is pretty weak.

It''s called a paraody. Those are allowed under the law.

"Ulairi" wrote:
It''s called a paraody. Those are allowed under the law.

I was already wording my reply as I was scrolling down, but he beat me to it.

It would be the same if I showed a picture of a wild-eyed freaky man, making love to his Gamecube below a banner for Horizons, and labled the picture ""Ulairi at home""

"Yomm" wrote:
It would be the same if I showed a picture of a wild-eyed freaky man, making love to his Gamecube below a banner for Horizons, and labled the picture ""Ulairi at home""

Not unless I beat you to it first!

Ding! New sig.

Im having a hard time taking this situation seriously here now that Ive gotten that mental image from Yomm.

This is pretty lame, I think anyone who doesnt make seven figures a year working on the executive board for a media conglomorate can agree to that (and even then most of them will agree that it''s lame, but it makes them money). I hope they can afford to fight this, because it''s just plain bad precedent.

Well, here''s some info on slashdot -

Parody of trademarks as well as copyrighted material is normally protected, but there are cases where it is not. This article [usip.com] ( http://www.usip.com/articles/parodyt... ) describes threee cases where the pardy was found unprotected. The most relevant of the three is Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. v. Novak, 231 U.S.P.Q. 963 (D. Neb. 1986). Now 1986 came long before a load of the IP-silliness.

The guts of the case: a guy made a ""political statement"" and did a ""Mutant of Omaha"" design, offering ""Nuclear Holocaust Insurance"" (it was the Cold War, kiddies, and Reagan was in the White House).

In addition, the creator parodied the MoO Indian head trademark and was selling these designs on T-shirts, caps and coffee mugs. The District Court for the District of Nebraska found in favour of MoO, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed.

If there is nothing for sale, First Amendment arguments have a much stronger considerations. Even pure political messages don''t carry enough weight. But parody is not a guarantee of protection, despite a long tradition of it in American society.

woof.
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I also think another legal issue is that they werent parodying Strawberry Shortcake, which is the infringing material. They were parodying McGee, which they didnt infringe upon. I think that might complicate thier argument some.