When Is A Porn Copycat Too Much For A Movie Studio?

Color me ridiculously amused that the porn parody that has finally launched mainstream movie studios into litigation is a porno version of Fifty Shades of Grey. After all, if there was any movie that seems as if it should have a porn version, it’s that one… But perhaps that’s the point.

The whole parody porn genre has confounded me for some time; not that it exists, of course – If ever there was an untapped fetish market, it was “versions of your favorite stories and characters where you get to see them have sex,” after all – but that the parodies were so blatant and seemingly managed to get away with it. That there was a porn version of DC Comics’ Justice League: Not surprising. That it managed to get away with being called Justice League of Porn Star Heroes XXX: Far more surprising.

After all, it’s not as if the companies that own the original source material behind Spider-Man XXX, BatFXXX, Wonder Woman XXX et al – are companies that tend to stay away from litigation to protect their intellectual property; they’ll sue car manufacturers, party costumers and even Ghostface Killah to keep their characters under control, after all. And yet… the porn studios seem to be able to get away with it, thanks to the “parody” defense.

(This isn’t just something limited to comic books and superheroes, either; there have been This Ain’t Glee XXX, This Isn’t The Twilight Saga: New Moon – The XXX Parody and even, completely surreally, The Big Lebowski: A XXX Parody. Because, come on, who didn’t watch that film and immediately think it needed a porn version?)

One argument I’ve heard for why the porn studios have been left alone when it comes to the parodies is the idea that there is so little likelihood that someone looking for an actual Superman (or Glee, Avatar or whatever) DVD would end up with the porn version that it’s not worth the hassle to pursue the litigation. I have no idea whatsoever whether or not that really holds water (After all, couldn’t the same argument be made for Ghostface?), but nonetheless, it does provide a potential reason for Universal Studios filing suit against producers planning on making Fifty Shades of Grey: A XXX Adaptation.

The lawsuit describes the porn version – which also, noticeably, describes itself as an “adaptation,” not a “parody” – as a “willful attempt to capitalize on the reputation of the book,” but it’s not difficult to suspect that Universal is worried about the porn version because it can offer something central to the source material that the “legitimate” movie can’t… Namely, the sex. After all, Fifty Shades is erotica, and however much mainstream movies may want to push the envelope, it’s unlikely that Universal is going to go as far as the books when it comes to sexual content, and that opens up a potential crossover audience that doesn’t necessarily exist for the other porn parodies.

Whatever the reason for this particular porn movie prompting the lawsuit, I’m curious to see what happens next; using “adaptation” and not “parody” would appear to remove one legal route for the porn producers to defend their work legally, making it more likely that Universal will be able to win an injunction. If that happens, will that act as precedent and push other IP owners into action against their own sexy copycats?

News From Our Partners

Comments

  • Ryokowerx

    The reason for the lawsuit is that there is already a Fifty Shades movie “in development” by a Hollywood studio. They’re basically trying to protect the IP that they paid money for. The porn version probably would have gotten away with their version but calling it a “adaption” rather than a “parody” is what brought on the lawsuit.

  • http://www.mediabistro.com/fishbowlla/author/richardhorgan Richard Horgan

    This is a topic that has always fascinated me. I know there was some initial cease-and-desist attempts made by 20th Century Fox towards the parody THE ROCKY WHORE PICTURE SHOW. And I think you’re on to something – because the line between the original, upcoming GREY and a porn version is thinner, parties here may be concerned the confusion would be much higher in a sense. Or, that a porn purveyor’s ability to do the sex scenes harder would actually in this case help the material, strangely.

  • http://twitter.com/Arthurknight Michael J

    Sex sells.Book is famous it’s similar formula with the Twilight franchise but it’s more of a an expy of sorts of Bella and Edward in the form of Anastasia Steele & Christian Grey.Except with more sex and it’s no wonder that this porn company wants to capitalize off of Fifty Shades of Grey sucess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Dawnelldo Dawnell Bouknight

    Aren’t there like two Fifty Shades of Grey porn parodies and if the problem is really about them naming it ”adaption” rather than a “parody”, than they could just change the name.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Buchko-Jr/1259580093 Michael Buchko Jr.

     The book actually started out as Twilight Fan Fiction, and then when it got big, the names were changed when it came to publication.  That’s probably why it’s similar to Twilight.

  • Thalia

    Probably be better than the Hollywood movie lol after all the source material reads like a badly written prono.

  • Demoncat4

    the reason this time  a porn parody got a lawsuit is not only is it not saying parody  but adaption like what universal is doing with the source material . though the porn version could only help the film since we all know the censors will not let universal really go wild with the sex in the book without an mc17 rating

  • http://www.facebook.com/dfullam David Fullam

    When will Porn sue Greg Land?

  • Wayne

    Maybe because 50 Shades has made more money than, very probably, every issue of JLA combined since it’s beginning, and will reach many, many more people. 

  • Gaijin dude

    I live in Japan, an in my local video store these parodies are shelved along side the normal dramas and action/suspense movies! There is a separate section for the japanese porn. Of course, in both cases all the explicit stuff is blurred out. However, in this type of situation it would be very easy to accidentally sit down with your family and wind up with superman’s pixelated ding ding saving the day.

    I know it’s a little off point, I just found it amusing.

  • Andy Nystrom

    I wonder if part of it is, they don’t want to legitimize the porn and give it any sort of credibility? They may not want the porn people to go “Who hoo! We got their attention!” before calling up a lawyer specializing in this sort of thing.

  • Slartibartfatsdomino

    They might have a problem with the script as well. I’m assuming it’s terrible (because how it could it not be? It’s a porn…. of Fifty Shades of Grey!), but if it contains material from the books, than litigants may still have a case.

  • http://twitter.com/tylerralphward Tyler Ward

    The Supreme Court recognized parody as fair use. An adaptation is not fair use. Seems pretty simple.

  • nailsin

     So this is all about a copy of a copy of a copy.