Anonymous said: Since you know about these things a lot more than anyone else I know, and similar questions are being put out, I've been wondering for a while now what defines "pony/fim/hasbro content?" Like, if I made a world, storyline, characters, magic system, mechanics of the universe that plainly differ from the show, but still use "Pony, pegusi, unicorn" Is that enough to peg as copyright infringement? Is it even possible to claim the base races and the rough style of them as copyright?

I know a lot of people wonder about this kind of stuff, and it’s important to recognize that there’s not a strict set of rules for many copyright situations and it all relies most profoundly on court precedents that can be used to lead an argument. However, that said, what could be defined as the “My Little Pony” copyright is functionally anything that distinguishes that property for what it is as a unique idea or show. The art design could definitely be considered unique and distinguishing, so if you attempted to make a piece of media about horses using an art style similar to MLP, you’d be running the risk of infringement. This is one reason why, if you’d like to do parodies using original content or animation, you’re actually better off if you do it in your own style so that there’s no way your work can be confused for official material. You want to make it clear that you’re commentating on My Little Pony and not representing it.
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A good example of this would be a case where a book related to “Cat in the Hat” was deemed as satire, not parody, and thus wasn’t a fair use. The book was called “The Cat Not in the Hat”, and it was a commentary of the OJ Simpson trial. Basically, it was to highlight the absurdity of the defense - the murderer wore a hat, and OJ doesn’t wear a hat, so OJ can’t be the murderer. It was a controversial case, so take that for what you will, but the book featured OJ in a striped hat like the one the Cat in the Hat wears, and the book used prose similar to the style of Dr. Seuss. The court ruled that although the commentary on the OJ Simpson case was all well and good, there was no commentary on Dr. Seuss or “Cat in the Hat”, and referencing “Cat in the Hat” wasn’t necessary to the integrity of the criticism of the OJ case. So just as that court case suggests you can’t use the art and writing style of Dr. Seuss to make satire of an unrelated topic, you can’t use the art style of My Little Pony to make commentary on something unrelated to My Little Pony.
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If Hasbro wanted, they could try to claim ownership of the concept of unicorns or pegasi, but the only thing that would come of it is bad PR and, inevitably, a lawsuit that wouldn’t result in anything good for the company. Stories about unicorns and pegasi have been around for ages, so if you really just love the idea of talking horses making their own society, you can definitely use My Little Pony as inspiration to make your own unique work, just so long as you don’t use locations, names, or references to MLP or any work owned by anyone else. You also can’t set your work in the future of someone else’s work. There have been court cases that demonstrate it’s not considered transformative to age Twilight Sparkle by forty years and have her rule the lands of your story.
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IP bullying does occur, and any kind of legal notice is terrifying. Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars and years of battle in court just because they drew fan art, so it’s easy to look at the whole thing and get very wound up and very nervous. However, Hasbro has been pretty good with the whole IP thing, even though the death of some fan projects have been tragedies for a number of excited fans. When I get stressed about the IP stuff myself, I sometimes look into C&D letters Hasbro has already sent to people, and although it may sound backwards, I find it kind of relaxing to read them. The letters are always rather cordial, and they appear to be addressed in a manner that seems aware of the people involved. For that reason, I feel like if we ever got a C&D, it would, at the least, most likely be over something that somebody looked at and gave fair consideration to.
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It’s important to know that fair use is an affirmative defense, and the determination of whether we’re operating under fair use is decided first by the company that owns the IP. That means it’s also Hasbro’s prerogative to decide if we aren’t adequately following the rules, and if they’re bothered by something we’re doing, they can ask us to pull a project offline or ask us to stop working on something. MLP is their thing - it’s up to them. Anyone who wants to commentate on MLP, draw fan art, or whatever, just needs to think in those terms and be mindful that Hasbro is fundamentally in control, here, and that is why they may intercede, because your work can reflect on them and on their show.
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In the end, if your question is, “How much can I borrow from MLP and still get away with,” you’re playing at a dangerous game where you’re forcing people with more legal expertise than yourself to ask that same question. Further, the trouble is not whether you’ve borrowed too much, but whether there’s even debate in regards to the question. If you’re not sure yourself - if you’re ever working on a project and you feel like your art style or writing is too similar to something that’s already out there - then make alterations, distance your project a bit further from your inspiration to make it more unique, and remove that element of doubt. That’s the best way to work, and that’s what I recommend.
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Fair use is fine in some cases. News reporting virtually never gets questioned, so you’re usually okay to simply report facts and analysis on existing IP. No worries there. It’s just parodies that become tough or lost in gray areas. They’re abstract, rely a lot on juxtaposition, and when doing them you find yourself toeing the line or just wandering into areas of law that nobody has any simple answers to. If you go into it not knowing what you’re doing at first, and then you learn about the laws afterward, I guarantee you’ll be asking yourself all too often, “Oh hell, what have I started?”
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You can make a living by doing parodies, but there’s a reason Weird Al always asked permission when he did his songs and why he never made a mockery of anyone’s work if they didn’t okay it at first. It’s because if you don’t, everything becomes very, very convoluted and you’ll be facing a lot of questions that may not have answers.
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That’s why Hasbro’s approach to C&D notices thus far has been rather comforting. The fact that the notices seem polite and aware of the individual situations implies that they had someone with way more knowledge and experience look over the situation, and the letter is saying, “Hey, we checked, and you’re an idiot. Knock it off.”
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If anyone out there ever gets a C&D like that and you ignore it - guys, you are being fools. The C&D is the polite stage. It’s a heads up that you’re on the sea and there’s a storm headed in, a courtesy and warning to you! Dock your boat. Sadly, if the storm is particularly terrible, your boat can still be sunk even in the harbor, but hopefully that doesn’t happen. Tragically, I would like to say I don’t know of any fan groups that would ignore such a warning, but I do know of one or two. In fact, I know of a group that has reportedly ignored three such warnings, and I do hope their project doesn’t reach completion because it would be an example of people purposefully driving into a hurricane just for the sake of attention.
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My final advice is this: parodies are great and fan projects are often labors of love, but if you take interest in such a thing, develop a strategy to follow the rules as best you can. To continue the sailing analogy, you’re navigating around reefs, potentially without a map, so it bears numerous inherent risks. However, if you have your own animation team, I encourage you to direct those talents towards original works! Fanfics and the like are a great way to hone your skills and doing parodies of a common interest may put together a great animation team! May even net you a fiance, to my surprise. Grow on what you learn, grow into your own ideas, and if you love something, always be willing to let it go if you find that’s what’s for the best.

Queen Latifah struggles through X-8, running out of ammo and falling back her wits and a bowie knife! The struggle goes from one against reasonably-sized cyborg dogs to battle with a giant cyborg dog. Afterward is left the question, “What next?” The seas are bumpy and the sails are torn.

Of course we also had a Monday Music yesterday, featuring a theme for a powerful, mighty sand crab. A heroic crab with heroic crab duties.

And we had a Personal Time about some odds and ends and joking about useless villains!

We have another Mentally Advanced Series episode! Rarity enlists the help of Fluttershy to get ahead in the ruthless fashion world, and it turns that Fluttershy is exactly the kind of personality that the fashion world is looking for. A doormat.
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We’ve also got another episode of Soul Reaver 2 online! Raziel continues to traverse Janos’s Keep! Almost to Janos!

Queen Latifah cautiously makes her way to the X-8 research facility in order to upgrade the sonic blaster so it can pass force fields. Try as she might, ammo still remains in short supply and is used up pretty rapidly. Big Mountain is a dangerous place, and Queen Latifah has never been much of a contender when it comes to head-on conflict. This is especially true when trapped in a building full of vicious, cyborg dogs.

Anonymous said: So, say I had a character, let's call him Felix, and I offered you a small job to do Felix's voice, if I were to say "Can you do the MAS Fluttershy voice for Felix?" that'd be wrong? but it'd be A-OK to say "Can you do Jordan's voice for Felix?"

No, I can do voice acting with any voice you like! Anything I can manage for you, anyway. I just can’t do a cameo as one of the ponies and represent myself as “Rainbow Dash from MAS”, or something. What I mean to say is that Rainbow Dash and the other ponies are from MLP and not anywhere else, so I can’t take commissions to do any work involving the pony characters. Parodies and other protected uses excepting, I suppose. It’s complicated.
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There are rules and it’s hard to understand, and I don’t believe I fully understand it myself, but I guess the simplest way of putting it is that Hasbro owns MLP. I just make fun of their show. We’d like to start doing stuff with monkey world so that we’ll have our own thing that we own. We can do anything we like with a world of our own invention. MAS and RDP have complex rules. Having our own IP, on the other hand, is freedom.

shpencification said: There's something I've been wondering: you said Equestria Primates will be the end of RDP, but what about MAS? Will you A) Finish every MAS episode before the release of Equestria Primates? B) Continue with making MAS after Equestria Primates is released? Or C) Just stop MAS (no matter what episode it's on) once Equestria Primates is released?

Now that it’s possible to produce MAS on a regular basis, I’ll probably continue on with the series. The main concern, both with RDP and MAS is an issue of copyright and trademark laws. There’s nothing concrete about copyright law, and everything can be viewed as individual works or a body of works. One of the standards they use for determining fair use is the substantiation of the use, or how much of someone else’s IP you’re using. They ask whether or not it’s necessary to use the IP to the extent that it’s been used.
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If you’d asked me when I first starting doing the parodies whether or not I felt we had a sure fair use defense, I would have said I thought we did, but since then, and even going on today, I still try to do reading on court cases and figure out whether or not we are following rules, and here’s what I think: we’re in kind of untested waters. There are precedents I read about, and we have to be careful that we don’t accidentally perform satire instead of parody, because there’s a very crucial legal difference between the two. The criticism and commentary needs to stay focused on the source materials, but since parody requires a lot of implicit abstractions of the original material, everything easily becomes very murky.
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Take “Investment Losses”, for example. I know what the message was for that episode. We were making fun of a couple concepts, but most primarily we were jabbing at the idea of living in a cloud city in a romantic setting where individualism is really important. A city is a crowded place full of various rules and methods to make sure everything is running smoothly, and then we had Aurora just running around from place to place, completely without supervision, with a handicap so she can’t even fly, and it all ends with this banal social disaster. However, once it was all said and done, Aurora’s general weirdness draws so much attention that it winds up being the focal point of the entire thing. We had comments saying, “I feel like there’s a message here, but I’m not sure what it is.”
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And, well, there was a message, but since we didn’t convey it well it winds up being something I have to explain in clearer terms if people ask, and that is the exact sort of thing that would land you in court. Where we commentate on the romance of the show, with their magical cities, special talents, and lack of blatant bureaucracy, that’s arguably parody. However, if we were only using MLP to poke at kids who get lost at supermarkets, that’s satire. Parody is protected, but satire isn’t, so you see how it’s not always cut and dry for us, and the more that we tease the show, the more we risk using the IP in a way we shouldn’t, or we risk being perceived as such. That’s why Equestria Girls is going to be our final hurrah in terms the Rainbow Dash Presents parodies.
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Of course, too, you have remember that although RDP is performing parodies of fanfiction, which is arguably legal, I don’t think there are many precedents where anyone has claimed fair use to make implicit commentary on a work that is technically not protected in the first place. Fanfiction is generally left alone because it’s harmless or often even beneficial to the IP they’re involved with, but if fanfiction suddenly became a multi-billion dollar industry, I can guarantee a lot of fanfics would be deemed illegal. So if you make a parody of those fics, is your parody legal? This is the kind of thing that I try to figure out because that’s what pertains to us, but I’m not aware of anything really concrete I can point to that says there’s a strong case for or against us.
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With MAS I feel in safer territory because it’s taking existing material but using it in a transformative manner to make very direct commentary on the original messages present in the show. A lot of people comment that they like how MAS will sometimes completely rearrange everything, maybe even playing the episode backwards to forwards, and yet still winds up with the same core story. Of course, that’s the entire point, because we’re making fun of the show’s core messages! MAS can’t replace the original show, and in fact, the best way to get into MAS is to have watched the original show in the first place. I see plenty of comments from people saying they started watching MLP just so they could better understand the inside jokes in MAS. That’s good - and that’s why certain types of works are protected! The hope is that this sort of parody is productive and actually benefits the original material, both by getting people to think about the original material and by directing traffic to it.
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But even despite all that, the concept of the “abridged series” is still pretty new. We’ve only just recently had the means and technology to be doing this sort of thing, and as yet there haven’t been any court cases that specifically address the question of whether or not an abridged series should be protected. It comes back to the questions you always have to ask about a fair use case. We don’t want to be using too much of someone else’s IP.
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Because ultimately, the biggest concern isn’t only that we’re maintaining a positive use of someone else’s IP, but also that we’re doing it in a way that’s clear enough to make a court case essentially unnecessary. Granted, there’s really not much point to suing us. The court case would probably cost more than anything the parodies are worth, but then that’s sort of our issue. We really couldn’t afford to go to court, and even if we did, there’d be no return sufficient enough to justify going.
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The bottom line is, I’ll probably keep doing the MAS parodies as long as I feel like I can make unique observations about the show. But if we ever do get a C&D from Hasbro, we’ll comply with it, because it’s their show and it’s really up to them to decide what’s okay when it comes to their characters, and there’s more money wrapped up in it for them than there is for us. It’s one of their flagships, after all. And although it’s a corporation, I know it’s a corporation staffed by humans and the company itself has a decent track record for ethics and positive working conditions, so my impression is that they’re not really happy about having to wield legal tools at any fans; our job is to try not to do anything dumb to make legal intervention compulsory.
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It’s a lot to think about, and it’s why we did make the decision to do one last big parody in the style we have the most freedom with before we bring a close to RDP and start using that freedom to make characters who actually do belong to us. It’s also why our Let’s Plays haven’t been “Rainbow Dash Plays” or anything like that, because Rainbow Dash just doesn’t belong to us - she’s not actually our character and she never will be. It’s also why I can’t accept commissions to do voices as Rainbow Dash or other pony characters. I can do silly voices! But it’s not up to me how the MLP characters are used, and I can’t sell my talents as representative of that brand.
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I know it sounds like a simple question to ask what our plans are with the parodies, but there’s a lot I dwell on with regards to it, and this is where we’re at with it currently.

friendshipiscarrots said: First off, I gotta say, I LOVE your youtube channel! All the stuff you put on there just ends up being awesome! I've been wondering though, is Rae your real name (sorry if I misspelled that), likewise for Patton and Taylor? Not asking for your real names, just if those are. Also, I keep hearing the three of you being referred to as girls, is this the case? I mean Taylor sounds like a dude but I've been wrong on that before, and both you and Patton sound like you could be either or.

Rae’s just a persona I’ve been using for the Let’s Plays! Her friends, Taylor and Peyton, are also characters for the sake of roleplaying. They’re monkeys, and they come from the same universe that we set “My Little Dashie” in - well, a similar universe anyway. It’s set mainly in a country called Banana Republic and theirs is identical to our own world in every possible way that seems convenient at the time. We’ve actually done some stuff with ideas and concepts.
imageSeen here, for example, is the beautiful capitol building where the red and blue Congress teams figure out who deserves blame for all the bad things and who deserves credit for all the good things.
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You can see here, it’s totally different than US Congress because their flag has a banana.

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And here is Red Congressman Brown, who genuinely isn’t modeled after anyone, actually. He’s just a monkey in a very fine suit.
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These images actually came from a short that Petirep and I planned on then put on a back burner. After we’re done with Rainbow Dash Presents, we plan to focus instead on the adventures of Rae, Taylor, Peyton, the Jokermort, and other characters from this universe. In fact, our parody of Equestria Girls is actually going to take the ponies to Banana Republic. Well, a school in Banana Republic, where the girls will myopically focus on becoming prom queen as they’re harassed by the mightiest girl at school, Sue Bu, and her two accomplices, the dumb kids.
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The clinch is that unlike Equestria Girls, Banana Republic will still be a setting of absurdism and escapist behavior, featuring wizards, super heroes, good guys and bad guys, eldritch monsters, dance gangs, and whatever the heck else we feel like doing, since it’s really up to our own imaginations and we’ll be free to do a lot more once we start operating entirely with our own unique ideas.
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The entire concept of Equestria Girls really just runs me for a loop - MLP is a show with a lot of romantic themes, featuring a ton of nature, magic, and harmony with one’s surroundings. Yet Equestria Girls is set in a high school, and it’s almost portrayed as an escape from Equestria. As if to say, “Wow, our magical world of talking horses sure seems pretty humdrum after I’ve had a chance to eat processed meat at the school cafeteria! Why, look at all this freedom with five minutes to get to class between periods! What a vacation from the stress of being a purple unicorn with a dragon slave!”
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It’s especially crazy when you consider that almost every other show about being in high school is focused as intently as possible on anything except high school. It’s always about being a magical girl, or about love life drama, or about field trips. Anything - anything but the actual reality of high school, which is institutionalized to the point a person can wake up, forty years after they’ve graduated, in a cold sweat because they’re afraid they forgot to do an assignment. That is a mild form of post-traumatic stress, ladies and gentlemen. That is the magic and excitement most of us get to know from high school.
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Anyway, I’ve meandered a bit, but the Equestria Girls parody will give us a good opportunity to have an exciting and bizarre world of satire and comedy simply buzzing in the background of a fight over a plastic crown that the average student could care less about. Rae and friends live in the Banana Republic. They are too old for high school. They are girls - beautiful ones if you’re to say so to their faces. And I know it’s confusing because I purposefully gave them all gender neutral names and I voice them myself.
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Why? Don’t distract me with details, man. This is my craft and since square one I have been making it up as I go along. I never honestly thought it would get this far, but damn it, traditions are traditions and I can’t go back on them now.

We’ve got a new Monday Music! Today’s song is a theme for a female character who consorts with eldritch horrors. This song was requested to represent a break from the leash of those beings into a relatively brighter tomorrow.
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The original build for this song included a flute part that was apparently lifted from a group called “Barcode Brothers”. I have to offer a huge thanks to the people who pointed that out – it wasn’t something I’d done intentionally. The site that I got the sample from has its own rules for licensing and so forth, and the person who uploaded that sample didn’t represent it as anything unoriginal. The entire concept of plagiarism where music is concerned can be complicated, but using a copywritten sample without permission can lead to trouble, so if any of you guys catch anything like that again, let me know!
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The rest of the song, however, is just fine, and I scratch-built the new piano part you hear now instead! So this should be fine to use for your projects without worries.
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You can download here if you like it!

ninto55 said: So what you're saying is, download it now because it'll be gone soon?

I already pulled all instances of the first build. For sake of personal use, if you grabbed it before I pulled it then I guess you’ve got it now! Just don’t use the original build for any projects or anything. I don’t know if anyone would get in trouble but I wouldn’t want to even raise any questions about it. Vanilla Ice had to pay royalties for the bass line of “Ice Ice Baby”, so I doubt it’s okay for me to use a sample from “Flute” by Barcode Brothers.
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The site that I got the sample from is supposed to feature original parts written by artists who know and intend for the tunes to be used for this sort of thing. I generally like to cut the samples up into unique parts anyway, but for this case the sample captured a really good feel mostly as it was - which was trance. Barcode Brothers is a trance group. It was a good trance tune!
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I’m glad people recognized it and pointed it out to me, though.

So we’ve got a new Monday Music up, but I’m actually going re-work it and then re-upload the song within the day. I sometimes use samples in my music and there are a number of rules on the website I get them from. The flute sample I used today apparently violates those rules, though, since they were lifted from a song by a trance group called the Barcode Brothers. I hadn’t heard them before, but their “Flute” song has a catchy tune.
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It’s not good! Illegal, maybe, so I’m working on something else to replace it and will have the song switched out soon.