Thank you to everyone who wrote and commented about yesterday’s post. This was supposed to be a post about how I was printing cards and bringing them to Dragon*Con and hoping to get people together to play it, but I guess instead I’m here to explain what I can about the Cease and Desist order. Again, I don’t feel it would be a smart move to reprint the legal letter but I will try to go over some things and answer a few of the common questions I’ve been asked, to let you know where this project now stands.
1. I have responded to Hasbro’s lawyers’ email becuase, quite honestly, I have no idea what they are upset about. By that I mean, I truly didn’t understand if there were specific parts of the project that they felt were infringing or if they want the entire project taken off the internet. I am hoping it is not the latter, nor would I agree that’s infringement.
2. Hasbro will win any argument about parody or fair use. I accept that already. They have lawyers and rights to both properties; I’m a Magic dork who likes Ponies. That said I remain adamant in my belief that Shards of Equestria is a work of fan art that constitutes a parody of Magic: The Gathering. I have asked Hasbro’s representatives for clarification about what parts of this site they feel surpass that limitation. I have also offered to provide any additional disclaimer or verbiage on the site about this that would satisfy them.
3. I am not a lawyer, and there is a high chance neither are you. I mean that not to be rude, only to say that offering any random or opinionated statement about my “rights” is irrelevant. Like I said, this is about Hasbro’s lawyers not liking something. If they continue to not like it, they will simply order my site host to take it down, and they will, and I’ll be sad, and that’s it. Sigh.
4. Since many asked, yes, while they cited specifics about both My Little Pony and Magic the Gathering, it certainly seems like the MTG side of the project is what they are more upset about. Specifically the matter that many cards are existing cards from real sets (Giant Growth, Shock, all the Land cards, etc.) as well as the use of (I kid you not) the same verbiage as on real Magic cards (in other words, they-gasp!-look like actual Magic cards) and they seem to think that’s theft. I wrote a detailed explanation of the game mechanics and clarification of this to the lawyer which I imagine will be promptly directed to a brick wall outside. I tried.
5. Hasbro has neither threatened or attempted recrimination against me. The tone of their letter was cordial and stated their case succinctly. I have responded to the lawyers and am awaiting a response. In the long run they will likely get whatever they demand so my sliver of hope here is trying to convince them to take a more nuanced view of what’s going on here.
6. Some people have asked “well who else can I talk to about this?” God, I wish I knew. If I could call up anyone at Hasbro and ask for permission to keep doing this I would. If I could get people who make the show to rally behind it like they did for Fighting is Magic, I’d do that too. But I can’t. I don’t really know what to say or do beyond asking Hasbro’s lawyers to please reconsider their decision.
7. If you will allow me one moment of whining, I feel I have the right to say, just once, out loud, yes, I think this is really f***ing unfair. No, in the grand scheme of the problems in our world this is meaningless, and yes, I knew from the get-go there was always a chance tampering with two global trademarked properties could lead to this. But now that I’m facing it, I find myself incredibly frustrated. In the “real world” beyond this project I am an owner of my own IP and I understand the need to protect it. I have never, from day one, felt I was infringing on or violating Hasbro’s copyrights. I have never attempted to make money or earn any financial profit from this and have even turned down monetary offers. Shards of Equestria has been an eight-month investment of a lot of my own time and money. The profit I have earned has been laughter from my friends, praise from total strangers and a deeper connection to a fan community that does nothing but promote the financial and cultural success of a quality product. A group of people can make an entire video game based off of MLP, and that’s awesome. A group of people can write and publish an entire novel series based on MLP and a licensed video game property, and that seemed okay. And yet here I am, slapping Applejack on a Magic card and I’m being told I’m a thief. It hurts. It hurts a lot, only more so in that I know I can’t do anything about it. Okay I’m done now.
8. The big one: what do I do now? Well, as of this very instant… nothing. I am waiting for the lawyers to respond to my inquiry detailing what they expect of me. If they want certain parts of the site taken down, I guess I have to take them down. If they want the entire site removed, well, I guess I have to deal with that too. This could happen in a week, it could happen tomorrow, I could get an email from them as I complete this post. I don’t know. It’s up to them. Until then, I thank all of you for your comments, your feedback and most of all, enjoying Shards of Equestria for what I have always believed, and continue to believe it is and nothing more: a work of fan art that I want as many people as possible to enjoy as much as possible, as harmlessly as possible.
Update: I would prefer the comments on this site and particularly this post to not be a troll/flame war about whether or not you like the cards to begin with. Play nice.
Update #2, 8/29/12: I have responded to the legal representative for Hasbro, who has now responded and indicated they they are forwarding my responses to their client. I expect to hear something sometime next week. Until then I will likely have no new updates. Thanks for your patience with this, everyone.
Update #3, 8/30/12: while I appreciate and am touched by everyone’s positive and supportive feedback, I want to be clear about one thing: nothing- NOTHING- will be accomplished by saying or doing anything that alienates or harasses either Hasbro or Wizards of the Coast. Please do not start or even suggest illegal activity, protest actions, spam or email campaigns, bothering employees, etc. etc. It is not that I don’t appreciate you trying to help me. It’s that I don’t think that will benefit me… if anything it might make trying to rationally discuss my options with Hasbro that much harder.