'Star Trek' and Dr. Seuss Mashup Ruled Fair Use

Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!, a mash-up of Star Trek and Dr. Seuss, has won a victory in court.

Publisher ComicMix won a ruling in a lawsuit brought against it by Dr. Seuss Enterprises. The lawsuit claims the crowdfunded book breached copyright law. A year ago, a judge ruled in favor of ComicMix, saying that Oh, the Place You Will Boldly Go! Was not deliberately misleading.

In a follow-up summary judgment, US District Court Judge Janis Sammartino ruled that Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go!’s use of Dr. Suess’s Oh, the Place You'll Go falls into the category of fair use.

Dr. Seuess Enterprises tried to reference the Federal Circuit’s 2018 decision in Oracle Ameirca, Inc v. Google to undo ComicMix’s fair use argument, but judge’s ruling stated that ”The Court does not find Oracle persuasive.”

"in Oracle, the Defendants copied the 37 SE API packages wholesale, while in Boldly 'the copied elements are always interspersed with original writing and illustrations that transform Go!’s pages into repurposed, Star-Trek-centric ones.' Defendants did not copy verbatim text from Go! in writing Boldly, nor did they replicate entire illustrations from Go! Although Defendants certainly borrowed from Go! — at times liberally — the elements borrowed were always adapted or transformed. The Court thereforeconcludes, as it did previously that Defendants’ work, while commercial, is highly transformative."

Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ complain took special issue with the similarities between the two works’ covers, the latter being a clear homage to the former. But the ruled that Dr. Seuss Enterprises could lay claim to “the unique, rainbow-colored rings and tower on the cover of Go!" but not "any disc-shaped item tilted at a particular angle.”

The ruling continues, "But that is essentially what Plaintiff attempts to do here. Instead of replicating Plaintiff’s rainbow-ringed disc, Defendants drew a similarly-shaped but decidedly non-Seussian spacecraft — the USS Enterprise — at the same angle and placed a red-and-pink striped planet where the larger of two background discs appears on the original cover.

"In short, portions of the old work are incorporated into the new work but emerge imbued with a different character.”

Judge Sammartino also was not impressed with Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ evidence that Oh the Places You’ll Boldly Go! would cause damage to them in the marketplace. You can read the full decision here.

What do you think of this ruling? Let us know what you think about it in the comments.

(h/t The Hollywood Reporter)



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