Law firm demands retailer destroy all copies of Olivia Munn comic, retailer refuses

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Travis of Heavy Ink says: "Thought you might be interested to hear that lawyers are threatening HeavyInk to remove a parody comic about Olivia Munn. We're fighting back."

Click the image on the right to see the law firm's letter.

Legal challenge to HeavyInk: "destroy all copies of Celebrity Showdown Olivia Munn"

UPDATE: Geoff Gerber, an IP lawyer has an interesting blog post about this. He writes, "There is no absolute defense to a right of publicity claim based upon parody," and "It should also be noted that it is not clear that Celebrity Showdown would be considered a parody." This is getting interesting. I've reached out to Antarctic Comics, the artist Brian Denham, and Olivia Munn for comments about this story, but have so far not gotten a reply from any of them.


  1. Good for them. Heavy Ink just earned a customer, and Ms Munn’s “Attack of the Show” just lost an occasional viewer.

  2. I have three thoughts.

    1. As nanuq says, “Who?” I’ve never heard of this Olivia Munn person before in my life.

    2. IANAL, but that letter looks like a legalistic “let’s see if we can get everything we want just by demanding it” broadside to me.

    3. Munn and/or her lawyers need to look up the Streisand Effect.

  3. Now that I’ve looked at Munn’s repulsive website, I understand part of where she may be coming from. The picture above makes her look like a normally-proportioned, or even spectacularly-proportioned human, instead of a freak with a huge misshapen head, which is what she looks like in the she-says-unaltered photos on her website.

    ISTM they gave her much nicer-looking breasts, as well, but I’m no judge of such things.

    1. C’mon Xopher, that is uncalled for. Please don’t make disparging remarks about people’s bodies on Boing Boing.

  4. You know it is one thing to do fanfict and give it away for free…it is damn nuther to take a living real persons likeness and create fiction about it and make a profit off of it.

    Regardless of the legality of it, it is sleazy and no one should be promoting someone else’s sleazy actions. It doesn’t matter if someone is a public personality or not…Obama recently had an advertisement taken down that shown him wearing clothing from a company (that I assume he liked)…I agree with that…he might be the most public personality in the US, and even such, he should have the right not to have his image used in ways that he didn’t ask (now if it were politics, that is fair game)…

    Same with Munn…sure, she is self-promoting, and panders obviously to the nerd crowd (much to the ubernerd’s hatred)…but why is doing this cool at all? Legal or not, there needs to be some moral boundary…

    1. it is damn nuther to take a living real persons likeness and create fiction about it and make a profit off of it.


      1. I think it comes down at least morally and, I believe, also legally to whether this is really a parody comic (parodying Munn specifically); or just a comic extrapolating from her likeness. The supporters of the comic seem to implicitly assume it is a parody. The detractors seem to implicitly assume it’s not.

        Just throwing this in. Has anyone read the comic?

    2. how is that sleazy? political cartoonists do it all the time. furthermore, she’s going to have to get a thicker skin now that she’s internet famous..or boing boing famous anyhow. we’re like kids in a playground, vicious vicious animals.

  5. Obama ain’t suin over Barack the Barbarian and even Cheney and Palin have enough brains to roll with the punches. Matter of fact, I’d think Palin would like “Red Sofia”…

    50/50 this is some kind of marketing trick…IMO

  6. I agree with #5 – while I haven’t looked thoroughly into the comic, from the description on the link I’m not sure if this is a parody or fiction involving her name to get some recognition. If they were going to make this sort of book, it would have been much better to get her in on it or at least grant permission to use her name/image.

  7. In order to spoof a public figure, the spoof-ee must have a certain level of celebrity, mustn’t they?

  8. I’m usually gung ho for fighting the forces of censorship and media control but not in this case. Olivia Munn’s product is her image. That’s what she does and all she’s got, very much like an actress or newscaster.

    This comic is attempting to make money off her image and her name. It isn’t a clever parody of her, it IS her. It takes the “product” she makes and markets and sells it without her permission or her profit.

    Do you think they could have made ‘Being John Malkovitch’ without John Malkovitch’s involvement or permission?

    I’m on Olivia Munn’s side on this one. They are sleazy and they are ripping her off.

    1. This comic is attempting to make money off her image and her name. It takes the “product” she makes and markets and sells it without her permission or her profit.

      If an individual monitarily profits off of their persona they should be exempt from parody? So politicians, most of whom are hired/elected based on their persona (for better or for worse) should be exempt from parody?

      It isn’t a clever parody of her, it IS her.

      I don’t understand how a litteral reference negates the posibility of parodying the referent. So if SNL “parodies” Barak Obama, it isn’t actually a parody because they are calling the character by the name “Barak Obama?” And, in reality, the actor playing Barak Obama is actually transformed into Barak Obama the person?

      Further to be considered a parody the work in question must also be clever? Who decides whether it is clever or not?

      Your ideas trouble me deeply.

      1. Enormo, why not state why it is a parody instead of asking why it shouldn’t be considered one, because that’s what the publisher’s going to have to do.

        1. Enormo, why not state why it is a parody instead of asking why it shouldn’t be considered one, because that’s what the publisher’s going to have to do.

          Um… because I never asked why the Munn comic shouldn’t be considered a parody.

          I did, however, question the parameters set forth by another poster that precluded *any* text from being a parody.

          I don’t plan on ever reading the comic in question so I’ll leave any classification up to you. You seem all riled up and ready to go!

  9. Frankly, I understand.

    From what I can see about the real Munn lady, she’s trying to make a buck as a model of sorts. Or at least cash in on her looks.
    And she looks fine. Really.
    But then some comic book retailer starts selling a comic featuring an über-version of her with a physique that quite frankly she could not possibly hope to live up to.
    I mean that kinda sucks, be honest.
    Because you know, I saw the comicbook version of her first, and I thought, Dang, if she’s anything like that, I gotta check that out.
    But she aint like that. And how could she be if she wasn’t the fittest girl on the planet.
    So comicbook Munn looks way better than real Munn.

    And that’s not fair.

    And apart from that, can you make a comic featuring a real life person as the main character, using their name as the title, and not have their consent to publish it?

  10. I was wondering “who?” as well. Never heard of this woman before but if someone wants to draw me that way and publish it to the world, they are more than welcome to.

  11. They giving law degrees out of cracker jack boxes now a days, or are these kinds of [unfair] bullying tactics just the norm?

  12. I wonder if Betty Page was equally as upset about all the masturbatory artwork that was based on her likeness?

    1. I wonder if Betty Page was equally as upset about all the masturbatory artwork that was based on her likeness?

      No, she wasn’t; she loved her fans, may she rest in peace.

  13. I’ve been on Olivia’s show a couple times, and met her. She’s a very nice lady, and this whole thing kind of creeps me out. I don’t see any evidence that it’s parody – if it is, I suppose it’s legal, but that doesn’t make it less creepy.

    I’m a (very minor) public figure myself, and if someone made a hyper-sexualized comic book about me without my permission, I’d be pretty upset. And I think I’d have grounds to be.

    Again: may be completely legal, and I’m no fan of lawyer-bullying, but I’m not crazy about it otherwise.

    1. “I’m a (very minor) public figure myself, and if someone made a hyper-sexualized comic book about me without my permission, I’d be pretty upset. And I think I’d have grounds to be.”

      And then you’d sic the lawyers on them? Because it seems to me that if there’s a line that’s been crossed here, that’s it.

    2. Jesse, you know I would pay real folding money to read a comic book starring you as a hyper-sexualized character.

      1. Just so you know, Mark, I’m working on that comic book starring a hyper-sexualized me, and I’ll be releasing it in a special edition of one… all you have to do is come and get it, big guy ;).

  14. The responses here and in the linked forum thread seem to confuse copyright law (and its parody exemption) with personality rights. The seller is in Massachusetts, with whose laws I’m not as familiar, but in California it’s plainly illegal to use someone’s name or likeness for commercial purposes without their permission (California Civil Code 3344).

    That said, the law firm certainly didn’t help this confusion by addressing the letter to “DMCA Agent.”

  15. Munn and/or her lawyers need to look up the Streisand Effect.

    Well duh, my guess is that’s the whole point~ They have looked it up, and they’re banking on it!

    1. @Anonymous #22:

      Well duh, my guess is that’s the whole point~ They have looked it up, and they’re banking on it!

      Came here to say this. Thanks!

      As far as whether it is parody, I’d have to read the comic. Not sure I want to go through the trouble of hunting down a copy. There was a whole series of really awful comics about rock stars in the late 1980s/early 1990s, and I don’t know that they were parodies either. OTOH, Paradox Press, an imprint of DC Comics, produced a bunch of books in the Big Books series with comic writers and artists condensing historical stuff about public and semi-public figures, and that wasn’t legally actionable, nor is Rick Geary’s history series published by NBM (AFAIK).

      I don’t think this comic is going to hurt Olivia Munn, however, and that may be the crux of the lawsuit. IANAL, but I would think that the plaintiff would have to prove intent to cause harm, a specific material amount of harm, and a means of remedy (pulling the comic, plus punitive damages, no doubt, so that one’s down).

      Having a scantily-clad, and rather photogenic, cartoon version of yourself in comic book form, unless there’s some negative–and again, materially damaging–commentary in it specifically intended to hurt her public image, doesn’t seem like it’s going to hurt.

      Fluff comic is fluff.

  16. Never heard of her either, but given who she seems to be, this sounds like a brilliant marketing move: an C&D letter– a few hundred bucks’ of attorney time– has made it all the way to bb in short order, driving traffic to Heavy Ink, her Wikipedia page, Maxim,, etc. Genius!

  17. From the description of the comic:

    “Olivia Munn conquers the world in this hilarious spoof! Hollywood’s hottest geek girl, Olivia Munn, hosts G4’s Attack of the Show, but while at Comic Con, she is attacked by a swarm of fans. Unable to escape, her gamma-irradiated cells explode and unleash the fury of The 50-Foot Womunn. It’s the showdown of the century! Geeks vs Munn!”

    Seems a lot like a spoof type skit they’d do on SNL, so what’s the difference? Not sure she can complain that it is “hyper sexualized” since she has pictures on her public web page in bikinis, underwear, and topless.

    Again, not sure what the complaint really is here…

  18. I’m with Jesse on some of this. Ms. Munn’s talent and quality of looks is highly subjective, so Xopher please chill out with the hate. I hate lawyer bullying but it’s her lawyers not necessarily her (as far as we know) who sent this letter. She may not even know the full details of this other than what she’s heard from them. So please just don’t jump to conclusions or dramatize the situation.

  19. I’m also not sure that her fourteen inch waist and DD breasts in the comic version qualify as normal proportions. Unless you live in the Peoples Republic of Barbie.

    1. That made me lol. I’m picturing Sanitation Engineer Barbie, DMV Bureaucrat Barbie, pink tanks and Plastic Surgeon Ken.

  20. Just because you haven’t heard of someone, it does not mean that they are not famous in some way. The world does not revolve around individuals. Ms. Munn is extremely popular in geek circles, particularly the gamer crowd. She hosts G4’s popular Attack of the Show program, as I’m sure others have pointed out by now.

    That said, don’t mistake my defense of her for my being a fan. I’m not. She’s basically famous for just being an attractive woman who does well in front of a camera. Nothing more. I haven’t heard especially positive things about her from some who’ve been around her, so… Yeah, not a fan.

  21. I wish could draw well enough to make a parody of people arguing over whether gamma-irradiated cells exploding and unleashing the fury of “The 50-Foot Womunn” is a parody or not.

    It would star Jesse Thorn and HeatherB in the most epic battle of my imagination.

  22. She has the right to control such an obvious exploitation of her name and image.

    Parody? The fact that she’s so insignificant probably helps her case.

  23. She’s famous enough to have made the cover of PLAYBOY without having to pose nude.

    I’d have to side with Ms. Munn (or, reluctantly, her lawyers) here.

    ‘If by parody you mean “using her image in an attempt to make a profit without paying her for it”, then yes!’

  24. People, she has 100,000+ followers on Twitter. Just because she hasn’t penetrated your tiny spheres of awareness does not mean she is not well known.

    Isn’t this a parody of her large breasts and willingness to objectify herself?

  25. Can Nigel McNulty be a real person? Are we sure that he isn’t some sort of parody of a lawyer, and is indeed a publicist instead?

  26. Umm…just to bring this up but considering someone Rule 34’d Obama and Hillary in the same manga….yea…Sure, it was made in Japan, but even so it’s far worse than this and no one really complained about it. To me this kind of stuff reminds me of all those people that try to force DMCA takedowns because it goes against their image, like with what happened with Demi Moore before. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it illegal is what I guess I’m getting at, and while California’s laws may make it illegal doesn’t make it illegal in every state.

  27. I’ve watched Attack of the Show occasionally and found Ms. Munn a pleasant enough cohost. I’m sure Ms. Munn is familiar with BoingBoing. Has anyone tried to contact her directly to see if she had any involvement with the legal brouhaha that was launched in her name?

    She definitely has a nerdcore audience and I have to hope she would be flattered and amused by a parody comic. If she actually initiated the takedown her geekboy fandom might feel somewhat less warmly towards her in the future. She might be perceived as greedily protecting her image at the cost of her true fans (and who but a true fan would make a comic book about her?).

    On the other hand, how do we distinguish parody from a straight out comedy adventure? I always though the old Star Trek comics looked like parody but they were licensed and approved. If the comic just uses Ms. Munn as the central heroic character in an amusing story, is it parody or fan fiction? Is fan fiction protected as commercial speech?

    Any intellectual property lawyers want to weigh in on this?

  28. What’s the problem. That’s actually an attractive, assertive, strong, sexy portrayal. As an actress, I would want this image plastered everywhere. It’s probably much better press than her acting skills (this statement is not based upon any actual knowledge of said actress or said actresses acting abilities-legal)

  29. Sorry, but most of you are on the wrong side of the fence. There’s no parody here (the only defense for this sort of thing). This is just a case of someone being exploited to enrich someone else, without compensation. She’s an actress and model, which means her image is, to a large extent, her business, and she’s being ripped off.

    I hope see seeks damages, and wins big.

  30. How she became famous has little bearing on the legality of this, but since some people are bringing up the morality of it, the how becomes more interesting. As far as I understand she was a relatively unsuccessful reporter/actress who made it big (at least as big as she is) exploiting so-called geek culture by presenting herself as THE “cute girl” for the geeky. She dresses cute, drops tired internet memes, and does a poor job convincing people she really really likes video games and star wars. I don’t say this to attack her, but only to suggest that she is not only famous enough to be a licit object of parody, but that there are decent reasons to want to parody her as well.

  31. This is almost painful to read. How can anyone claim to know it’s parody or not, if you haven’t read the #@!*ing comic? Seriously!

  32. Maybe someone can come out with a “Cory Doctorow, Copyfighter” comic. It’s about a character who runs around the world looking for copyright to fight under every stone, legal bill and website. No cause is too small or obscure for him to ignore. He stands proudly upon his soapbox says what needs to be said!

    Of course the great thing is, it’s both parody AND truth so it’s all fuzzy and jumbled.

    1. Cory has appeared in xkcd repeatedly. As himself, by name, wearing a red cape. Is that what you’re referring to?

    2. holtt, I don’t know about a comic, but I’d pay good money for a video of Cory fist-fighting someone dressed up as a giant Kindle while Olivia Munn pranced around in a cheerleader’s outfit.

      Is that weird?

  33. It’s not a parody. It’s clearly a comic book created to cash in directly on Olivia Munn’s name, fame and image; she’s the central character of an unauthorized work. If they wanted to dodge the bullet, they could have at least named the character “Livia Moonn” or something clearly connected but not connected.

    I don’t know. The take down holds water.

  34. This certainly doesn’t look like a straight up parody. If that’s the case, Olivia Munn is likely worried that by using her image in this way it looks to her fans (or others) like she is involved in this comic or is endorsing it. I’m somewhat reminded of the recent case where American Apparel used Woddy Allen’s face on a billboard. A celebrity (or any other person) certainly should have a right to protect their image from being used like that.

  35. What a bunch of hack boilerplate twaddle! You’d think they trained better Lawyers in Australia, or is it Barristers in Oz? I always forget which one actually can argue cases and which one is a jumped up Legal Clerk.

  36. I don’t really care if it’s a parody or not, so I’m not going to debate that with anyone.

    However, I think an issue is that this letter was sent to a retailer, not the publisher or the creater. Heavyink has NOTHING to do with the creation or publication of this comic. They are just selling it. Which is what their website is for. To sell comics. Furthermore, they are telling them to destroy all copies they have, and seeing as how this isn’t even shipping until late April I beieve, they don’t even have the product as of now.

    That at least is the issue for me. If she doesn’t want the comic to go out, don’t shoot the retailer, shoot the guys who are creating and publishing it.

  37. @28
    I’m also not sure that her fourteen inch waist and DD breasts ..

    I’m pretty sure the bust in the picture above is not a DD cup.

  38. I’ve always liked Olivia Munn. She strikes me as a rather harmless, sexy, young creature. Not having read the alleged parody, I can’t judge its merits as a comic book. But it sure feels like someone’s trying rip off somebody else by selling something that capitalizes (in an unauthorized manner) on her likeness. Again, perhaps it’s genuinely parodic. Perhaps not. But as for Munn herself: aren’t there far worse people — semi-famous online drudges who blog all day, for example — to get worked up about? Sheesh!

  39. Do everyone who insists this is not parody, I challenge you to explain your position from a legal perspective. Just do a search of the topic and see what legal precedence is, then defend your position. You may love Olivia, you may feel this is unfair, but that doesn’t mean such a publication isn’t legally protected as a parody of a public figure.

    BTW, I just purchased a copy of this comic at for only $3.19 plus $.99 shipping.

  40. *strokes chin* Parody, you say? Hmm, I’ve an idea. I’ll get a copy of this comic, scan and post the entire thing on the web only my version will occasionally have a stick man drawn in the margins making rude gestures, and it will obviously be a parody of the comic! Better yet, I’ll take a position as a marketer for Copyright Snitch software (makes RIAA takedown notices E-Z & fun!) and, coincidentally, commission a comic that has thinly-disguised versions of you, Cory, Xeni and David seeming to endorse the product!

    Alternatively, we can ask ourselves if, you know, this is really fair even if they followed the letter of the law. This isn’t Larry Flynt making fun of Jerry Falwell with “parody” clearly marked on the cartoon.

  41. Kind of hard for me to take the side of the comic when the company behind it doesn’t pay their artists for work for hire on properties they don’t even ask permission for.

  42. It appears that the lawyer mistook a book vendor (who would have every right to resist being told to destroy stock) for the publisher who they should be suing. I can’t tell if this is parody or not, but it’s hard enough to tell that I can see why they lawyers are concerned. All the same, until there’s a legal order nobody should be destroying their inventory.

  43. Wait a minute. People here haven’t heard about Olivia Munn? And they’re making fun of her looks? I must be in the wrong place. Clearly I’m in the higbrow.meanyhead.boingboing web site. Seriously. WTF has gone wrong here? As my 5 year old says, I am not happy at you. You know who you are.

  44. So can I create a comic book that is a fictional story about a man who wears a suit, can climb walls and shoot webs, call him Spider-Man and then call it parody and still sell it?

    This comic book is the kind of thing Munn might conceivably do herself in the future. Shouldn’t she be the one to decide how to sell her image?

    And might people buy the comic book thinking that it was done or authorized by Olivia Munn.

  45. This is complete rip of her likeness.. and even a rip of her name. why would she NOT sue. obviously she didnt sign off on this so all u johhny hate seeds, who dont know who she is, and only see this as lawyer bullying need to chill. if someone rips ur name, ur likeness, without even consulting u about it, AND doesnt even pay u for it… well, guess what, ur gonna sue. Travis of Heavy Ink is obviously a dumb as for even attempting to do this.

    And by the way, Olivia Munn is awesome. shes one of the best new celebs out there. very funny. very cool.. i hope she wins this.

  46. I love clients who stand for their principles and are willing to push back when pushed. Heavy Ink’s response certainly pushed back and stood up for parody rights. Unfortunately, the legal analysis was a bit off.

    The issue is right of publicity, not copyright. There is still a free speech defense, but it is not as clear as most people think.

    I posted my overly long analysis on my blog here:

  47. Then, of course, there’s the fact that the average person doesn’t pay for SNL or a political cartoon directly. Looks to me the poor, put upon comic company is in the wrong here. They’re exploiting her.

  48. Change the subject of the comic book to Angelina Jolie. Suddenly the comic company has no case. There’s no way they’d try to make her into one of their characters. But with Olivia Munn it strangely seems like they have an argument. She’s an automatic parody, maybe?

  49. This may help non-lawyers with the “right of publicity” issue: if I start producing a breakfast cereal, and I put a picture of Xeni on the box without her permission, there’s no “parody” going on–I haven’t constructed a critique or commentary about Xeni or anything associated with her. I’m just using her image to sell cereal. It violates her right to control commercial use of her image–to decide what to endorse (if anything), and how much to charge for it, etc.

  50. This passage seems relevant (and interesting):

    “The law attempts to strike a balance between an individual’s right of publicity and free speech rights to permit specific uses of an individual’s identity. One serious difficulty with relying upon First Amendment protection is the legal unpredictability of First Amendment rules. The First Amendment provides a hierarchy of protection under the newsworthiness exception depending upon how the individual’s identity is being used. The greatest protection is provided for news, lesser protection is provided for entertainment and fiction and the least protection is available for advertising uses where a portrayal of a real person’s identity is used to sell a product or service.”

  51. As far as I recall the Parody defense doesn’t require that the person being parodied; or in fact the court in question, have to get the joke. The only way this stands up is if you take somebodies likeness and misrepresent your product as being endorsed by them. The same way trademark law works.

  52. The Mass statute that you guys want is:
    MA ST 214 s 3A

    Yah, the right of publicity is different from copyright. Parody is a defense to copyright infringement claims, not a defense to the violation of a person’s right of publicity.

  53. the real parody is the letter from the bozo atty to the wrong entity on a not-yet-delivered product. this reeks of PR.

  54. Oxygen of publicity. No one would have given a toss about the lady. Now you’ve sent 1000’s of hits her way. I imagine that alone would have paid for the lawyer’s letter. Duh.

    Ignore and she’ll go away.

  55. How is this not parody? Have you read the description of the comic? She is mobbed by fans and grows to be a “50 foot womunn” (sic) and then battles the geeks. How is this not parody? All parody is is the overblown caricature of someone for comedic effect. This is a comic book. It is practically parody by definition. Celebrities have been free game in comics forever. If you think she should be protected from this for some reason, I would like to know why. If anything, someone in her profession should be thrilled she’s relevant enough to be the subject of her own comic book.

  56. Oh, cool! That unfunny girl who helped immolate a television channel (which was one of the last bastions of intelligent programming left on television, but is now the white trash, college slacker, “anti-MTV” that wouldn’t recognize irony if they caught Oedipus looking at a MILF site) has a problem with free publicity for her C-list career! Makes perfect sense to me!

  57. Geeze, guys – so name her “Octavia Nunn”, put a big honkin’ wart on her nose and go to town.

    BTW: Who the hell is Olivia Munn, and will I get sued for using her name?

  58. One of the things you have to understand is that there are certain times you must take legal action against people regardless of how you personally feel. If you do not you will find you have legally set a precedent of not protecting those things. Then when a real problem happens you find its much harder to legally defend yourself in court. Whether or not someone is being a creep or stupid or ugly or ungrateful is not the point at all.

    1. Jesse is the host of The Sound of Young America, a truly refreshing interview show. His Wikipedia page. He’s a New Sincerity guy. In fact he may be New Sincerity Guy.

  59. I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me where the comic publisher crosses the line is that they imply (by omission) that they have Olivia Munn’s participation and approval.

    That’s the distinction between the Obama/Clinton/McCain comics and this one. Obama, Clinton and McCain are all political figures. The public can make a reasonable assumption that they did not license their images for profit and thus did not approve the content of these comics. But Olivia Munn is an entertainer. Licensing her image to a comic is exactly something she might pursue. With her name and picture on the cover and no kind of disclaimer other than the vague description of the product as a “spoof”, the reasonable assumption here is that Munn herself is a participant.

    The SNL/political cartoon analogies don’t hold up either. When you look at an SNL sketch or a political cartoon, it is obvious by the context that you are watching a parody. Nobody believes the subject of a SNL sketch has approval or is being compensated for their “appearance.” But comic books often feature appearances by celebrities (Tim Gunn in Models Inc., a line of WWE wrestler titles) who grant permission for use of their image. Again, reasonable assumption: if Munn is featured in a comic book, Munn is a participant.

    If the comic book publishers were really interested in doing a parody, all they had to do was name their character Olive Munney or something similar. The fact that they didn’t makes me at least think that they want to obscure the fact that they do not have Munn’s permission. They are not selling a commentary or critique of Olivia Munn, they are selling a work based on Munn without giving her any kind of compensation. Regardless of what one thinks about Olivia Munn, I think she’s got every right to aggressively protect her image from that kind of exploitation.

  60. OK. I notice a lot of people bashing Ms. Munn and the lawyers here.

    Let’s say I make a comic book about William Shatner, or Jon Stewart, or Kari Byron from “MythBusters.” It basically stars them doing the stuff they do on TV. If I draw one up to show my buddies in high school, at work or hanging out around the house, no biggie. A CND would be an overreaction. Now lets asy I run it through a copier, make a bunch of copies, and start selling it for money, without permission and without sending it to the people whose names and images I am profiting from. Then, we have a problem.

    So here’s the deal. To do something like this to profit off a person, you either need permission from the artist or a “note.” The publishers of this comic are in the business and aren’t innocent to this. Whether you’re Shatner or Byron or Stewart or Munn, semi famous, almost famous, or mega famous, your image is your property. Indeed, if your thing is being a host and model, as a model that is what your trade is, plain and simple, and someone riffing on it for profit is both taking cash from your image and potetially damaging it because a professionally released book might be seen as sanctioned by Munn and hence associated with her by fans as well as others in the industry.

    Let’s say I came to your job and started snagging a piece of your pay check. You wouldn’t like that either. Especially if I really hadn’t done any work to take it, and was drafting off what you did, while you get less for it. Plus if I was potentially telling people stuff about you they might take as true and that you wouldn’t want them too because you had worked hard to show you were someone else, i.e. you. That’s the gist of it here. If they are sued they should lose badly, I hope they’ll be smart enough to quietly let the comic go, they’ve gotten their publicity, which I don’t see as good publicity from a professional standpoint.

  61. They were gunning for some money… Obviously why they contacted the retailer first, and not the publisher. The letter was weak at best too.

  62. I would have thought that the inclusion of the word ‘spoof’ in the description was enough to imply that it was done without consent AND intended as a parody.

    I think the over-obsessive protection of ‘intellectual property’, ‘right of publicity’ etc. is getting stifling.

    It seems too much of today’s world is polarized into those who see no boundaries and will gladly digitally steal someone’s life-work with no compunction and those who deem use of a charicature “theft”.

    If I write something and someone rips it off word for word it’s theft but to try and fit every idea and even the identity of celebrities into neat little boxes and you end up with a stifling of creativity. There is no such thing as an original idea. Ideas build upon ideas. There needs to be originality too but how many good ideas have floundered because they may marginally infringe someone’s copyright. As an example of this I was acquiring some model bases and mentioned to the Games Workshop that I was buying from that I was thinking of making up my own game. In all seriousness he said “Does it use dice? Because you might be infringing Games Workshop’s intellectual property if it does”. He was quite patently stupid but I DID discover that ‘scatter dice’ are protected. An idea practically ANYONE could have is protected under intellectual copyright law. I think the fools may even have patented the base idea of using a dice as a directional indicator.

    What would happen if every celebrity that was parodied on SNL would sue? What differs between the naffness of SNL and the naffness of this comic parody? I can understand not allowing the use of an image for the endorsement of a product but this isn’t that.

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