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Online Comic Book Store Stands Up To Olivia Munn Lawyers Over Parody Comic Book

from the parody-as-free-speech dept

Boing Boing points us to the news that Heavy Ink, an online comic book shop, is pushing back against the lawyers for geeky TV personality Olivia Munn, after those lawyers demanded Heavy Ink destroy all copies of an Olivia Munn parody comic book called the Celebrity Showdown Olivia Munn One Shot #1. Of course, since Heavy Ink is just the retailer, it’s not responsible for the content itself anyway, so the original letter was somewhat mistargeted, but even so, Heavy Ink makes the argument that the comic book itself is protected parody:


Re: your letter of 4 February 2010 regarding


I write to clear up some misconceptions.

First, the item offered for sale is not “our” comic book – it is created by a third party and offered for sale through our website.

I have never heard of Olivia Munn until you brought her to my attention, but a quick web search turns up a Wikipedia article describing her thusly


Olivia Munn (born Lisa Olivia Munn) is an American actress, model and television personality.

and her self promoting web page at


where she displays near topless pictures and links to a cover shot at Maxim magazine.

Given these two websites, it is clear that she is a public figure. As a public figure, the use of her likeness meets the tests for the parody copyright exception set forth in both Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. and the more recent Suntrust v. Houghton Mifflin.

As such, we have no intention of taking down our webpage, destroying any inventory, or refusing to offer the comic for sale.

If you have any further comments you may reach me at this email address,

Travis Corcoran, President
Heavy Ink

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Companies: heavy ink

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Comments on “Online Comic Book Store Stands Up To Olivia Munn Lawyers Over Parody Comic Book”

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Robert Ring (profile) says:

This is really odd. Munn is sort of an up-and-coming geek chick celebrity (maybe just over the hump of up-and-coming). I would think she would want any sort of pop culture notoriety. It seems fairly obvious that no one’s opinion of her would be diminished by a simple parody.

My guess is this is one of those situations where someone sees something, thinks, “They’re talking bad about me!” and calls out the lawyers without thinking it through. And obviously the lawyers aren’t going to do whatever to satisfy the client.

Andrew (profile) says:

Also via BB, Geoff Gerber points out that Mann is complaining about infringement of her publicity rights, not her copyrights as Heavy Ink assert.

“There is no absolute defense to a right of publicity claim based upon parody,” and “It should also be noted that it is not clear that Celebrity Showdown would be considered a parody.”

He also wonders why she’s complaining about this particular comic and not the decidedly racier issue from Sinful Comics also featuring her. 🙂

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