Universal Studios

Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.

Universal Studios seems to have some trouble establishing concrete ideas and positions when it comes to copyright on its own products. In recent iterations, this has manifested itself in the form of their protesting a parody of 50 Shades of Grey while conveniently ignoring that work’s birth in the form of Twighlight fan-fiction. Alternatively, there are times when Universal doesn’t even seem to know what it holds the rights to and what it doesn’t. Well, it turns out that these stumbles aren’t exactly a new experience for Universal.

Chris O’Donnell writes in with the historical and hysterical case of Universal suing Nintendo over Donkey Kong shortly after Universal itself had argued that the property the dispute was based on, King Kong, was in the public domain. See, back when Michael Jackson was still best known for his music, Nintendo came up with their iconic Donkey Kong character, admittedly in some part inspired by the famous King Kong character. This inspiration, it turns out, came after the fact, but that didn’t stop Universal Studios from filing suit against Nintendo, because they had released a remake of King Kong a few years earlier. While some within Nintendo wanted to simply settle with Universal and move forward, others within sought out the words of a key ally to fight against them, and that ally was Universal Studios.

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I’ve committed what is perhaps considered one of the cardinal sins of womanhood since 2011: I haven’t read a single page of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (affiliate link). But with all of the fanfare over the books’ overtly sexual themes, and given the fact that people are now naming their children after the BDSM-loving characters, I’m thinking about picking up a copy of the first in the series. Or, you know, maybe instead of doing all that reading, I’ll just kick back and watch the latest Fifty Shades of Porn flick.

“I’m completely shocked that there’s Fifty Shades of Grey-inspired porn,” said no one ever. Oh, come on, everyone knew that something like this was going to happen. Seriously, from the passages that were read to me by friends to convince me to read the scintillating tale, the series is essentially a softcore porn composition — “mommy porn,” if you will. So who really gives a damn if it gets turned into hardcore porn?

Universal Studios, that’s who, because the company owns the movie rights to the books. The motion picture empire brought a copyright infringement suit against Smash Pictures, a porn production company, earlier this week in federal court. Let’s check out the allegations, which our readers are bound to enjoy….

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