Dr Seuss estate has crushed a kickstarter for a Seuss/Trek mashup

An all-star team of comics and science fiction people -- impressario Glenn Hauman, writer David "Tribbles" Gerrold, and illustrator Ty Templeton -- had their kickstarter for a Seuss/Trek parody "Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go" unceremoniously shut down when the Seuss estate's notorious attack-lawyers threatened legal action, without any regard for the clear fair use at play.

Popehat's Ken White has lit his "Popehat Signal," looking for pro bono counsel to represent the creators against the dead hand of the Seuss estate.

I believe this project is protected by Fair Use. Under the first relevant factor, it's "transformative," in that it adds a new message or meaning to Dr. Seuss's work. It doesn't merely offer a Star Trek episode in Dr. Seuss style; rather, it uses the style to comment on and contrast the Stark Trek and Seuss sensibilities and styles. With respect to the "substantiality" factor, the parody only uses Seuss's recognizable and oft-parodied style; it does not copy actual art or story lines. With respect to the last factor, the work doesn't harm the market for Seuss's work. In other words, people won't buy less Seuss because they bought this parody.

Popehat Signal: Help Defend A Seuss-Trek Parody Under Fair Use [Ken White/Popehat]

Notable Replies

  1. No C&D from the Roddenberry estate? You're slipping, guys!

  2. Just looking at that one illustration It would be a true shame if this work weren't allowed to come to fruition. It would be particularly heinous of the Seuss Estate to complain about brand dilution or other brand damage given the cheap-ass, mass-produced, shitty knockoff stuff they themselves actually do approve / produce* in droves to keep the money pouring in.

    It's great that White is stepping in, but what we need are lawyers to write up ironclad wills and instructions to the estates of mad geniuses like Seuss before they die. They probably, in many cases, would want works inspired by theirs to flourish. For all I know, though, Seuss was an copyright nutcase too, but even it that case, it would somehow be less smarmy coming straight from the genius themselves.

    *I'm looking at you "Dr. Seuss' Happy Birthday, Baby! "

  3. jimp says:

    It's almost always the non-productive heirs who act like this with any literary property. People who had no more to do with the original but who by God will eke every last ha'penny out of it.

    Look at the Conan Doyle estate or the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate for true multi-generational money grabs of the highest order for things that should well and truly be in the public domain but which are litigated over by third or even fourth generation descendants.

    I'm a nasty, evil capitalist and even I think this goes beyond ridiculous.

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