ComicMix Defeats Seuss in Victory for Mash-Ups
At the end of 2017, I reported on a lawsuit, in which the owner of Dr. Seuss properties sued website ComicMix over a proposed mash-up book called Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!, a Star Trek adventure drawn and told in the style of a Dr. Seuss book. They were alleging trademark infringement (claims were dismissed) and copyright violation.
Now comes news that the ComicMix folks have won on fair use grounds!
District Judge Janis L. Sammartino reaffirmed her earlier findings that Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! is a highly transformative work that takes no more from the Dr. Seuss books than necessary for its purposes. Under those circumstances, she found that DSE could only defeat the fair use defense by demonstrating that publishing the book would be likely to cause market harm to DSE, and she found that it failed to do so, leaving its claims of market harm simply hypothetical.
Mash-ups are safe! Until someone else with more money and lawyers than sense decides to sue, probably.
ComicMix responded in verse, demonstrating quite the sense of humor.
Summary judgment at last we’ve received,
And our victory has been finally achieved.
The judge ruled at last that our book is fair use
And so we’re allowed to mash-up Trek and Seuss.
We thank all our backers who gave us their aid,
Which helped us to battle our legal crusade.
You all gave support as the motions dragged on,
Without you it’s impossible to have boldly gone.
A comment at that post suggests they still do plan to put it out, but with the previous Kickstarter shut down, they’ll likely have to restart the process.
I was informed that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has put out a statement that they strongly disagree with the court and that they are considering an appeal. We may need to see what happens with their plans before getting any more specific information on the book’s release.