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Copyright conflicts with selling a pony album

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I'd love to do my pony metal album, but, there's one problem.

 

Couldn't I get sued for selling an album that uses characters, locations, and stories that are created, copyrighted, and trademarked by Hasbro? I'd have to get some kind of written document saying I have permission to use those characters, correct?

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I don't really know much about laws and copyright and all that, but you probably can. Although they haven't really done anything about the bunch of brony musicians who sell their music on Bandcamp.

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Technically, yes, they could bring you to court over using their intellectual property in part. However, other musicians in the fandom seem to have no issue selling brony music. I wouldn't sweat it too much.

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You're safe, my friend. If that were true, artists and fanfic writers would be sued left right and centre, so I wouldn't be worrying about it too much.

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(edited)

I don't really know much about laws and copyright and all that, but you probably can. Although they haven't really done anything about the bunch of brony musicians who sell their music on Bandcamp.

 

 

Technically, yes, they could bring you to court over using their intellectual property in part. However, other musicians in the fandom seem to have no issue selling brony music. I wouldn't sweat it too much.

 

 

 

You're safe, my friend. If that were true, artists and fanfic writers would be sued left right and centre, so I wouldn't be worrying about it too much.

 

 

I don't want to be the one brony musician who is unlucky. (: I know that live, bands can say and play whatever the heck they want to (as I've seen hundreds of bands I know this to be true), but if they want to do a cover song and use other people's ideas and content they have have to get permission from the band and label first.

Edited by Isaac Swett

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I think the big issue is that you would be making money off of their product.

 

Given that increased risk, why are you planning on charging for it?

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I think the big issue is that you would be making money off of their product.

 

Given that increased risk, why are you planning on charging for it?

Because, since I can compose music very well I don't want to not make money off of it. That would rob me of money that my family needs at this stressing time in the American economy. 3:

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If you want to minimize risk, don't directly mention any names of places, characters, things, etc. Also, don't use any artwork related to MLP.

 

Which pretty much takes away the entire point of a pony album...

 

But it's all up to you. Hasbro doesn't really enforce their copyrights much (as evidenced by the fact that damn near EVERY MLP episode is on YouTube). Plus, as @DusK stated, plenty of other brony artists make money off of their music.

 

An alternative is to offer it for free in addition to paid. Then you can call paid albums "donations." I don't know the legality of it, but it seems legit to me.

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As most of us probably know, Hasbro wants as much money as possible (EA's clone, basically), so they probably wouldn't do anything that could hurt sales. Reason I said probably is because Hasbro's starting a crackdown on MLP fan content. In fact, I've heard rumours that they're thinking of going after Equestria Girls and making them like FiW and Fighting is Magic, history.

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(edited)

As most of us probably know, Hasbro wants as much money as possible (EA's clone, basically), so they probably wouldn't do anything that could hurt sales. Reason I said probably is because Hasbro's starting a crackdown on MLP fan content. In fact, I've heard rumours that they're thinking of going after Equestria Girls and making them like FiW and Fighting is Magic, history.

heh, perhaps they'd get me a record deal if I sold enough copies. ^^ Well, maybe not a record deal. Ain't nobody got time fo' that! Indie FTW. But i'd be cool if I gave them a percentage of sales money to them to support show maybe...

 

 

 

 

Which pretty much takes away the entire point of a pony album...

 

tumblr_m57xd65swZ1qjvxfho1_500.jpg

Edited by Isaac Swett

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Is there anything that can easily hurt the image of FiM? May sound like a stupid question, but I heard something about a fan who tried doing the same thing as you and got sued not just for copyrights, but slander and tarnishing reputation as well. Don't know whether it's true or not, but still, if that happens, you'll practically go bankrupt thanks to them not compromising at all. Either you give in early or go broke and then give in. Not a good situation, but if you need the money bad, I'd say go ahead.

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Hasbro seems to be turning a blind eye to copyright infringement, but they HAVE cease-and-desisted fan content creators. : /

 

If someone reports your content to Hasbro, legally they are obligated to pursue you and seek recourse, which could be anything from just warning you to get rid of all infringing content, to paying them licensing dues/profits from any sales you might make off their content, to suing you for losses or damaging their brand.

In order to defend a copyright in court, the owners of the intellectual property have to pursue all reports of infringement fully. If they let one artist get away with it, then if it went to court a judge may be less likely to rule in their favour. So if its reported, you can bet Hasbro will act.

 

The one way around copyright infringement is if its considered parody. But then, parody is hard to define and measure and that's why good lawyers get paid a lot of money.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing people make profit from their hard work. If what you do is good and people love it, it's awesome to get paid for it! But it's risky when it comes to the intellectual property of others.

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(edited)

Let me give you tips on when you sell a Pony Album:

 

1. Don't use their vectors, or show screenshots, or take credit of the artwork for yourself.

2. Do not sell remixes of show songs, make sure that every song is your own and original. It'll be a lot harder to find copyright when you make a song that isn't a cover of a Daniel Ingram song.

3. You can make a song that sings about a certain character, just so long it has the feel of being original (Try to avoid sound clips from the show whenever possible), and remember that the "Pony" isn't considered IP for Hasbro, but the feel of it will be (say for a game like Fighting is Magic).

4. You'll find that original songs have a much easier time selling over covers. So unless you have permission from Hasbro, I'd AVOID selling covers of songs at all costs.

 

You may see my own album here, Pony Empires Complete, but it is original enough that it makes no stance along the shows lines, but rather acts as one of the inspirations for the album.

http://thecarbonmaestro.bandcamp.com/album/pony-empires-complete

 

Take my word for it, if you're a smalltime musician, they won't go after you. Hell, one of the animators for MLP is now dating a brony musician because they're so good. So to answer your question, you may sell to an extent.

 

-Carbon

Edited by Carbon Maestro

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As most of us probably know, Hasbro wants as much money as possible (EA's clone, basically), so they probably wouldn't do anything that could hurt sales. Reason I said probably is because Hasbro's starting a crackdown on MLP fan content. In fact, I've heard rumours that they're thinking of going after Equestria Girls and making them like FiW and Fighting is Magic, history.

 

There's some misinformation going around with those three projects that I'd like to clear up. There is no indication that Hasbro are out on a Disney-like rampage to destroy fan projects. It's easy to blame the multinational corporation, but there's an explanation behind all three cases you cited, Emerald:

  • Friendship is Witchcraft is very much still alive. Hasbro didn't remove it from YouTube; Google's own ContentID system did. Sherclop moved it over to Vimeo, and it lives on to this day. Hasbro wasn't even involved with this.
  • Hasbro claimed the domain equestriagirls.com via UDRP. If you were in their position - creating and marketing a brand new TV show - would you rename the entire project for the sake of a one-page fan site? It's putting someone out of a $10 domain and a simple webpage versus rebranding a full-scale TV production by salaried employees.
  • Fighting is Magic directly infringed Hasbro's trademark on My Little Pony video games (look it up; they have one). While most fan games remain relatively low-key affairs (relatively speaking) that never break into the mainstream gaming industry, Fighting is Magic did, with coverage from the likes of Gamespot and an invitation to EVO. A trademark-infringing project with Mane6's production values and mainstream coverage could be mistaken for an official game by a fairly large number of people. Like it or not, Hasbro owns the exclusive right to make or license MLP games, and it's fair to say that FiM hit it bigger than even some commercial games do. The prudent thing to do would have been to work with Hasbro to get FiM licensed or otherwise have its existence approved in writing. The process for actually doing that is far more opaque than it should be, but it does exist.

The popular opinion isn't always the correct one; there are legalities and finer points involved in every Hasbro takedown I've seen that are largely, if not entirely, absent from the tabloid-like "information" that spreads around the ponynet. When dealing with intellectual property law, you can never do too much research.

 

 

And Isaac, this applies to your intentions of selling a pony album as well. Please be aware that, unless someone here produces a law degree, you should not consider communication on a pony fan forum legal advice. While some good posts have been made here (such as Carbon's post above mine - it mirrors my own research for the planned ability to sell music on Pony.fm), I highly, highly recommend reading up on the USA's trademark and copyright laws, as well as your local ones (if you live outside of the US), if you intend to sell anything closely related to Hasbro's properties. The legalese may be thick, but playing telephone with laws can get risky real quick.

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(edited)

Speaking of which, I actually have some info on a lawyer's POV of the Fighting is Magic takedown. However, you're a musician so you should probably be less worried about Hasbro than the game developers.

I highly doubt you will get anything close to a copyright infringment unless you're covering a song, which is not under copyright protection for you.

 

But if you're interested about C&Ds for games, please read:

 

About the recent C&D takedowns by Hasbro

So here I have some info from a lawyer about the C&Ds that every MLP fangame developer, artist, and musician is worried about. Might not solve all your worries, but there are some good tips for my own team and many others on how to prevent a C&D.

From a Lawyer’s Point of View:

Introduction
With lots of fan content being taken down by Hasbro in recent months, which could have been prevented. As a lawyer I thought I’d try to give advice to MLP content creators to prevent their work from being taken using Cease and Desist order. This is a post for everyone that produces non-profit fan works.
Legal Background
Even though under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law establishes the fair use doctrine by stating the use of a copyrighted work for comment, criticism, news reporting, teaching, research or scholarship is not considered a copyright infringement. Hasbro has a right to send a C&D to anyone who uses their trademarks (characters names, locations names, etc.), even on on non-profit fanworks, which makes them incredible assholes, in my opinion, but they can do it.

How to prevent your work from a C&D
1. Work on your project anonymously; never use your real name on the Internet, use a nickname instead.
2. Host your files on file sharing websites like www.dropbox.com or www.mega.co.nz (ideally outside the US). Never host on privately registered domains.
3. It’s OK to use blogs like Tumblr to update people about your project, just remember not to host your images and files directly there.

I have just received a C&D from Hasbro, what do I do?
Remain calm, you have a few options:
1. If they have your name, they will probably take you to court, if you don’t comply with the C&D, but you can still win by arguing that your work is a non-profit entity that falls under fair use. This might come with costly legal fees however.

2. If they have your name, but you want to resole this without any legal problems, comply with the C&D, remove your website, files from the internet. Then I recommend continuing to work on your project and releasing it anonymously remembering not to include any names in it, they probably won’t even notice that, and even if they do they won’t have enough evidence to prove that it was you.

3. If they don’t have your name, and if you’re obeying the rules I previously mentioned, you have no need to comply or even respond to them, they can’t do anything to you.

Won’t Hasbro lose their trademark if they allow fans to infringe it?
1. No. There’s nothing non-profit fans can create that would make Hasbro lose their MLP trademark. This is only possible at some complex and specific legal circumstances which are not the case here.

If you feel obliged to share this to the masses about what happened down with Fighting is Magic, by all means go ahead.

----------------

Edited by Carbon Maestro

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(edited)

Is there anything that can easily hurt the image of FiM? May sound like a stupid question, but I heard something about a fan who tried doing the same thing as you and got sued not just for copyrights, but slander and tarnishing reputation as well. Don't know whether it's true or not, but still, if that happens, you'll practically go bankrupt thanks to them not compromising at all. Either you give in early or go broke and then give in. Not a good situation, but if you need the money bad, I'd say go ahead.

 

Gotta be careful with hearsay, i don't know of a single muscian who's been sued or given a cease & desist. If anyone knows of them feel free to link a source in here.  There's been some good advice and really appreciate Carbon's more detailed post as well. Again if you don't make music for profit anyway it REALLY minimizes any chances you take.

Edited by Freewave

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Gotta be careful with hearsay, i don't know of a single muscian who's been sued or given a cease & desist. If anyone knows of them feel free to link a source in here.

The worse that could happen would probably be a letter from Bandcamp which has policies of copyright on covers.

 

Or a Google Content-ID takedown if you're on youtube.

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Admittedly, I don't know a whole lot about copyright law. I do know that covers of existing songs may not be sold without the original writer's express permission, but as far as original songs that you create which just so happen to reference copyrighted characters/settings/scenarios etc., I don't think there are so many strings attached...just make sure not to include any audio clips of dialog from the show or anything like that, because they can nail you for that.

 

But as far as I figure, if Anthrax was able to write and sell original songs about characters like Judge Dredd or Randall Flagg without having to ask the permission of IPC Media or Stephen King, respectively, then I see no reason you couldn't write and sell original songs about ponies.

 

Still, it'd be prudent to consult with a legal adviser before pulling the trigger on anything. I hear that consulting fees for copyright lawyers are generally reasonable.

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The worse that could happen would probably be a letter from Bandcamp which has policies of copyright on covers.

 

Or a Google Content-ID takedown if you're on youtube.

 

Yup. Just to be forthcoming I've used plenty of mlp footage in my pmv's and had youtube send me some copywrite content matches and asked for me to sign a  "Acknowledged third party content" waiver. Those are automatically sent by youtube or hasbro scanning

for content matches.  While they have used those to effectively get rid of people who were uploading whole episodes i haven't had any issues further after signing off that i KNOW that hasbro owns that footage. Despite the danger that they could pursue that further if they wanted to, they haven't. Likewise if you ever had whole song or a chunk of a copywritten song you may receive that same waiver and sign off and they may do a cease & desist or do the new practice of placing a link to itunes do download that song directly. That's smart for copywrite holders to see all those people using Psy in response videos as a helping hand and a signal boost and not as a threat and to link back to the original release. Soundcloud does scan uploads TOO so if they detect a copywritten song or portion on their LIST they won't let you upload it. Technology doing the work of lawyers and copywrite holders. Bandcamp may just pass on cease & desist or drop a bandcamp release if they are asked. I think they plead ignorance unless pressed. All FYI.

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The living tombstone is a pretty popular brony artist and just released an album entitled "Tombstone Remixes" that is remixing brony songs. They still have lyrics and meantion specific ponies so I wouldn't be worried at all about releasing a pony album. Just don't put a picture of one of the ponies as the cover.

 

If he can sell it, then no doubt you can too.

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Technically every single fanwork ever created is illegal due to copyright laws, but unless the work represents a significant financial or reputational threat a business usually will not choose to pursue legal action. A lawsuit would likely cost more than it generated, not to mention create a massive amount of bad PR. That said it never hurts to air on the safe side of the issue and not directly mention any material from the show, though I'm sure it won't hurt to reference it. The choice is yours; do more research and decide what you're comfortable doing.

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(edited)

Right, here's what I've decided to do - Write songs with lyrics that seemingly aren't about MLP unless you were actually told what the song was about. Per say, you'd have no idea "Flower of the Season (feat. Aviators)" by Bronyfied has anything to do with MLP unless you were actually told. Hasbro can't come after me if I don't reference any of their content with trademarked characters and phrases.

 

So, I'm going to get to writing. My project title is going to be "Lamented Chains" (© Isaac Swett, 2013. >:3)

 

and I will be working on a first EP. C:

Edited by Isaac Swett

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