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Friday, March 8, 2013

Fifty Shades XXX Parody Creators Claim Original Fifty Shades Is In Public Domain


Creators of the XXX porn parody hope the peculiar circumstances of the origin of the novel will get them off the hook! Image source: Hogtied.com.

I'm still following the progress of the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon in the media, but there has not been much to report on, as it has mostly devolved into increasingly wild speculation about who will play the leads in the movie. So when a bit of actual news comes along, I'm all ears. And some has.

The first actual news I've seen in a while indicates that Smash Pictures, the creators of a porn parody of "Fifty Shades of Grey," is being sued on violation of copyright grounds by Universal Pictures, which owns the movie rights to "Fifty Shades of Grey." Seems the porn people didn't do an adequate job of filing the serial numbers off!

Now I personally think the story in Fifty Shades of Grey is different enough from Twilight that there's no question that it's not copyright infringement, and I'm guessing Random House's legal department agrees with me, as they greenlit purchasing Fifty Shades.

The defense of Smash Pictures is that "Masters of the Universe," the original story written by EL James, on which Fifty Shades is based, and which was published on a Twilight fanfic website as fanfic, was in the public domain, and that therefore, Fifty Shades itself is in the public domain. For a detailed analysis of the Masters of the Universe fanfic and its relation to Fifty Shades I'll refer you to the Obsidian Wings website's analysis.

Their contention is that since Master of the Universe was published initially as fanfic without any copyright claims, and that since it essentially IS Fifty Shades of Grey, the work is in the public domain and Smash Pictures can't be violating Fifty Shades' copyright.

I don't have the legal chops to speak on the matter of whether or not Master of the Universe's original provenance puts Fifty Shades into public domain territory or not. But my cynical self tends to see that legal cases are generally decided in favor of the person or corporation that has the most money/legal resources. That would be Universal Studios. In any event, publishers, legal experts, movie studios and the fanfic community will be watching this one with great interest.

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