Friday, January 21, 2011

Antarctic Press takes a gamble, steps into Sarah Palin's crosshairs?

Repeating History: Antarctic Press once again fails to understand fair use.

So long time manga publisher Antarctic Press, the company that brought us Ninja High School, Gold Digger, and all kinds of furry abominations, came out with this gem:

Can "Furry Sarah Palin" be far behind?

Doing this is a bad idea because Antarctic Press seems to not have been able to learn the harsh lessons of its own past. Way back in 1994, they got nailed for publishing hentai doujinshi of characters they didn’t own the rights to (Dirty Pair) under the name H-Bomb, and like that crazy aunt that keeps betting the kids school lunch money at Bingo, they don’t seem to realize they have a serious problem. The original incident is detailed a bit more in this episode of Anime World Order by none other than MEEEEE, so go take a listen (it's 6min 50seconds in).

I can't find the H-bomb cover out there, but the hypno-butt says you don't mind.

Now it would seem as if AP is making another mistake as to where the line actually is drawn when it comes to protected parody and fair use.

I can already hear the weaboo-tards now going “nuh-uh! That’s totally protected and fair use like an AMV or fanfick and she’s a public figure and blah blah blah!” Shut the crap up. Weaboos know dick about copyright. Here’s why it’s not covered legally:

This whole thing is a for-profit commercial enterprise. You wanna play, you gotta pay.

Yes, you can draw as many pictures of Sarah Palin as you want w/o any licensing, and they can be in subject anywhere from super flattering to downright obscene. Yes you can write and or distribute these to anyone you want to... until you start making and selling merch with her likeness for profit. Then copyright comes into play.

Antarctic is looking at a potential major issue here because:

1) They are charging money for this comic and distributing it as a commercial FOR-PROFIT product. This isn’t some political cartoon in a newspaper. Sara Palin the Person/Brand is the foundation of this product, so unlike something that uses political likenesses, like the long running and painfully unfunny Doonesberry, the use of Palin's image in this isn't protected by Hustler v. Falwell as some have speculated (which was about libel anyway). Palin has no real lible case, but has a really good civil copyright angle and the fallout is just going to be about royalties. Antarctic isn't in criminal danger, but still putting themselves in very real legal danger of injunctions and expensive civil judgements.

2) They mention Sarah Palin by name. Of all the titles in the AP political releases, this is the only one that’s not far enough in the grey area (remember that pr0n changed the spelling just enough). Palin is a person and also more importantly a very powerful BRAND. She’s also a private citizen and not a politician (for the moment). There is NO DIFFERENCE between this comic and making another commercially sold comic like “THE ADVENTURES OF MICHAEL JORDON” and using his likeness and the logo of the Chicago Bulls without getting the rights to do that first. You do that and see how long it takes you to get sued. There is something like that happening now with Lebron James, but in that case, all the licensing has been done properly.

3) Palin is a media whore. The moment she’s sensed she’s been too far out of the spotlight, she’s gonna fire up the legal team and sue the crap out of Ben Dunn and the whole of Antarctic, just for the extra publicity. Win or lose, the legal nightmare alone is gonna hurt Antarctic, and it's a perfect opportunity for Palin to get back in the news withouth having to mention the word ARIZONA.

I can't bring myself to think that Antarctic Press is actually under the impression that fair use and parody are keeping them indemnified on thisk, but as I've stated, they have done this kind of thing before. I would like to think they’re just taking a gamble that the Palin camp is gonna let this one slip by. That’s not gonna happen because; see previous point #3. This thing is already being fed into the 24hr news cycle and in 5 minutes the whole world is gonna know about it. They’re already walking a dangerous line with the commercial Obama stuff, which has already become an issue from previous instances, and this Palin thing is not going to go in AP's favor if it goes to court. Antarctic would have a better chance if they just made a comic out of YOU and your wacky adventures (yes you reading this right now), since you probably have a smaller legal team.

I could be completely wrong if the Palin camp actually signed some sort of deal with Antarctic Press. I haven’t picked up my copy yet but something tells me there isn’t any agreement in place.

I did a lot of comic trading back in the buble and even once mentioned it in a previous post, so my advice is to buy this thing. Buy as many as you can and see what you can do on the short sell (meaning wait for this to get mentioned on CNN and FOX and your local news, then plaster them all up on eBay). Because the C&D letters are probably gonna start flying, and not just to AP, but to Diamond, and some of the larger retailers, which will rip them off the shelves. This thing is going to be worth at least a few bucks over cover for the novelty/controversy (probably not much more though, once the shitstorm dies down). I would actually take one to an inevitable upcoming Palin book signing/campaign stop and ask for a signature. If you do that, be prepared to not only get bounced from the event, but dollars to doughnuts says her private security will try to confiscate the thing from you as well.

So once again the Hong Kong cinema bootleg mentality has reared its head in terms of manga in America (I know it isn’t what fans would call “manga,” but AP is a company that’s done more for manga in America, more than a lot of people would care to acknowledge).

This could be the final screw up for AP though, and their final contribution to pop-culture history could very well be their actually becoming history thanks to this. Ah Antarctic Press, you were always in the room, but still we hardly knew yee.

You thought I was kidding about Furry Sarah Palin didn't you...

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