Will The Lawsuit Against Smash Pictures Open the Floodgates for Others?

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from www.spinoff.comicbookresources.com – Color me ridiculously amused that the porn parody that has finally launched mainstream movie studios into litigation is a porno version of Fifty Shades of Grey. After all, if there was any movie that seems as if it should have a porn version, it’s that one… But perhaps that’s the point.

The whole parody porn genre has confounded me for some time; not that it exists, of course – If ever there was an untapped fetish market, it was “versions of your favorite stories and characters where you get to see them have sex,” after all – but that the parodies were so blatant and seemingly managed to get away with it. That there was a porn version of DC Comics’ Justice League: Not surprising. That it managed to get away with being called Justice League of Porn Star Heroes XXX: Far more surprising.

After all, it’s not as if the companies that own the original source material behind Spider-Man XXX, BatFXXX, Wonder Woman XXX et al – are companies that tend to stay away from litigation to protect their intellectual property; they’ll sue car manufacturers, party costumers and even Ghostface Killah to keep their characters under control, after all. And yet… the porn studios seem to be able to get away with it, thanks to the “parody” defense.

(This isn’t just something limited to comic books and superheroes, either; there have been This Ain’t Glee XXX, This Isn’t The Twilight Saga: New Moon – The XXX Parody and even, completely surreally, The Big Lebowski: A XXX Parody. Because, come on, who didn’t watch that film and immediately think it needed a porn version?)

One argument I’ve heard for why the porn studios have been left alone when it comes to the parodies is the idea that there is so little likelihood that someone looking for an actual Superman (or Glee, Avatar or whatever) DVD would end up with the porn version that it’s not worth the hassle to pursue the litigation. I have no idea whatsoever whether or not that really holds water (After all, couldn’t the same argument be made for Ghostface?), but nonetheless, it does provide a potential reason for Universal Studios filing suit against producers planning on making Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation.

The lawsuit describes the porn version – which also, noticeably, describes itself as an “adaptation,” not a “parody” – as a “willful attempt to capitalize on the reputation of the book,” but it’s not difficult to suspect that Universal is worried about the porn version because it can offer something central to the source material that the “legitimate” movie can’t… Namely, the sex. After all, Fifty Shades is erotica, and however much mainstream movies may want to push the envelope, it’s unlikely that Universal is going to go as far as the books when it comes to sexual content, and that opens up a potential crossover audience that doesn’t necessarily exist for the other porn parodies.

Whatever the reason for this particular porn movie prompting the lawsuit, I’m curious to see what happens next; using “adaptation” and not “parody” would appear to remove one legal route for the porn producers to defend their work legally, making it more likely that Universal will be able to win an injunction. If that happens, will that act as precedent and push other IP owners into action against their own sexy copycats?

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