Hasbro Lawyers Send Cease-and-Desist to Fenslerfilm over G.I. Joe PSAs

I’ve linked before to the hilarious remixed G.I. Joe public service announcements that Fensler Film has done. Well, a random user informs me via the comments that Fensler has received a cease-and-desist letter from Hasbro’s lawyers.

Hasbro is claiming copyright infringement as a derivative work and possible trademark infringement. From where I sit these things are a fair-use parody. But then, I’m not a lawyer, nor am I in a position to pay Fensler’s legal bills so they can make that argument.

One thing I do know, though: If Hasbro succeeds in getting these things yanked, it will impoverish society in a measurable way. I’ve never been able to explain why these strike me as funny; some of them are just weird. But when that boy hits the ice and says, “Aw, fuck!” it cracks me up every time.

Update: Oh, they appear to be down already; fenslerfilm.com is giving out 404s for the videos. Hm. You can still get many of them from ebaumsworld.com: Edited GI Joe service announcement overdubbed clips. Here’s my favorite: gijoeice.mov.

12 Responses to “Hasbro Lawyers Send Cease-and-Desist to Fenslerfilm over G.I. Joe PSAs”

  1. Tom Buckner Says:

    I have watched the closing of the intellectual commons with growing alarm for years. It’s part of the fascist strategery (along with redistrictin-courtpackin-votehackin-younameit). I blame Disney, they were among the first; those with long memories may recall similar suits against underground comix about 30 years ago for parodies (I think it was a strip suggesting that Donald Duck’s nephews were really his bastard sons got by Daisy).
    See this great essay: Against Intellectual Property
    http://www.deoxy.org/aip.htm
    And, yes, the GI Joe parodies are a gas, and ought to be Fair Use.

    Remember the patent laws, etc. are only a couple centuries old, and used to be much weaker and more time-limited, and civilization got by just fine.

  2. David Says:

    IMO the GI Joe parodies aren’t Fair Use any more than what MST3K did to old sci-fi movies was Fair Use. MST3K paid for the right to use those films, which is why they didn’t have any movies more famous than Santa Claus Conquers the Martians…

    Compared to the JibJab parody, the G.I. Joe PSAs use substantial parts of the work (the video) they are parodying, which I think is the kicker here. If they wanted to do their own animation, Hasbro might leave them alone.

    It’s sad that they have to go, but it’s understandable, at least to me. At least it was a Cease and Desist letter, not a suit for infringement costs and damages.

    Porkchop sandwiches!

  3. Tuesday Says:

    You’re right. The “Oh Fuck” is inexpicably hysterical.

  4. ymatt Says:

    Nice films, blanco nino, but too bad your ass got saaaaaaaaaaaaa….

    …cked

  5. jb Says:

    It’s pretty clearly fair use. It doesn’t matter whether they’re doing their own animation — as long as it’s legitimately for purposes of education, critique, commentary, or satire. So… satire is respected.

    But back to the first commenter’s comment, copyrights actually do more to protect and stimulate the intellectual commons than destroy it. It encourages creation, and protection of one’s creation. And lawsuits for infringement have the most excellent defense/escape-valve of fair use.

    So, in my opinion, as clear satire, Fensler is safe.

  6. Tom Buckner Says:

    jb, what you say makes sense: if this is 1965.

    The problem is that corporations have used their political influence to extend patent and copyright to a degree where they have the opposite effect.

    It’s a bit like the idea that if the tax rate approaches 90%, people start moving to other countries just to get away from it, so you lose revenue (back in the ’70′s rock stars would move out of Britain to France or the US because the UK tax rate was so high).

    Whatever benefit patent and copyright confer is undermined when they go too far, and in the last 10 years they have. Did you know that works can now be copyrighted for the life of the creator PLUS 70 YEARS?
    That doesn’t reward creation.

  7. john serbin Says:

    i love these movies. i dont want anyone to take them away. they are the funniest thing i ahve ever seen. i almsot wet myself seeing the gi joe ice. GIVE HIM DA STICK…NOOOOO GIVE HIM DA STICK!!!!! we say it aleast 50 times to eachother at school. what happened to you hasbro, u used to be cool….

  8. Chaz Vukotich Says:

    Unfortunately for Hsbro, they have a problem they can’t possibly contain. By this point, many people have heard of/seen these videos and found them funny. After this, a lot of people choose to download the files for personal laughs later on.

    My prediction is that hasbro will shut down a new site every week with these videos, and that they will never get them off the web. That being said, why not just let the original genius who came up with them take credit for what he did?

    Yes, I know that this has no legal merit, but its kind of like Kleenex suing to make everyone call it facial tissue. Ain’t gonna happen.

  9. jb Says:

    Tom Buckner, what you say makes sense, as an argument against the copyright policy which seeks to provide protection (and thereby incentive) in creation, but could be said to go overboard by stretching it over sich a long time-period.

    But in this case, in this situation, it’s not a matter of how long Hasbro owns its copyright in these worthless (except in the hands of Fensler) cartoons. It’s a matter of the substance of the law: what constitutes infringement, and what are the defenses to infringement. And I don’t see how Hasbro could argue that it’s anything other than fair use (satire, education…)

    There is one possible weakness, in that Fensler might have made some profits at some point, indirectly related to his legitimate works of satire. But that’s not a strong point here, I think.

  10. Dwayne Says:

    Intellectual Properties, copyright infringements, Cease and Desists? What the Hell is going on with this world?

    Why is our Democratic society becoming such a facists state. i thought faciests were the enemy?

    I have to be honest, I watched the G.I. Joe parodies and loved them. I download them and shared them amonst my friends. Why? Because this is art, and art can be shared with whom ever and I have a right to do so!

    Now I don’t know why Hasbro is going after Fensler, I honestly don’t know why, but they are and for all the wrong reasons. Here’s why:

    Sure, they can sight Intellectual Property and copyright infringment issues, but that’s only if it’s being used for profit, and to the best of my knowledge the parodies are not.

    Did Campbells go after Andy Warhol for using the Campbells soup labels in his paintings? I think not!

    I think it’s a bloody travisty that we have come down to this. Slowly and slowly our “free” society is being vapourized by commercial greed and dishonesty.

    Hell, I use to doodle crazy comics and pictures with captions of commericalized characters or real people (politicians aren’t real people, but close enough) in crazy situations, usually reflecting current events. Am I next to recieve a Cease and Desist letter from some companies’ lawyers? Or am I going to get a letter from a lawyer of a politician citing harrasment? No, why? Who knows? You’d never go after a child over doodles. This is somoething that he/she did on their own time for pleasure. Fensler did the same, but choose to share with others, like I would with my pictures except I wouldn’t use the internet. But on the other hand, worse things have happened.

    Shit, if you can put a child away in jail for downloading the Hulk the Movie ( I don’t know why he did!) then i suppose the dam of common sense will forever be broken and more and more senseless lawsuits and court orders will plague this soeciety till everyone says, ENOUGH!

    The rules and laws we are so use to are becoming so blured, that we don’t know whats what.

    Why is Hasbro going after these guys? Why are they making such a big deal of it? Don’t they know that the majority of the viewers are adults who once watched G.I. Joe religiously? Hell, even went out to buy the actions figure, which mind you were not made in the Good’O U.S.A, but probably in Taiwan!

    What good is coming out of this? That’s an excellent question. How does this benefit Hasbro? You know why their doing it? Because there’s a dickhead on the board saying, “Let’s go use up the last bit of the budget on our laywers to submit a Cease and Desist letter to some artists (Fensler). Why? Because we can! Hahahaha! I’m a Royal Jackass!”

    Where’s the freedom of speech, the freedom to express ones self in any way shape or form? I suppose speech and expression can be used so long it doesn’t infringe in a commercial copyright.

    For shame!

  11. Bryan Says:

    Can you put the url’s for the GI JO movies here because our school computer’s block ebaums- however I can access the movies.

    Many thanks,

    Bryan

  12. rarara Says:

    Who wants a body massage?

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