Online retailer Heavy Ink has been targeted by attorneys seeking to stop the release of a comic book starring model/actress Olivia Munn.
As Boing Boing noted on Thursday, the cease-and-desist letter demands that all advertising, distribution and production stop on Antarctic Press’ Celebrity Showdown Olivia Munn One Shot #1, a “hilarious spoof” that finds the Attack of the Show co-host swarmed by fans at Comic-Con International.
“Unable to escape,” the solicitation text reads, “her gamma-irradiated cells explode and unleash the fury of The 50-Foot Womunn. It’s the showdown of the century! Geeks vs Munn!”
The letter states that Munn did not grant permission for her image to be used or exploited, and seeks the destruction of all copies of the comic, which is due for release in April.
Heavy Ink President Travis Corcoran has brushed off the legal threats, clarifying that Celebrity Showdown isn’t the retailer’s comic — it’s written and drawn by Brian Denham for Antarctic — and arguing that Munn is a public figure and fair game for parody.
However, as intellectual-property attorney Geoff Gerber points out, this isn’t an issue of copyright but of right of publicity, which involves an individual’s right to control and profit from the commercial use of her name and likeness.
“There is no absolute defense to a right of publicity claim based upon parody,” Gerber writes. “Instead, parody is part of the general defense based upon First Amendment free-speech rights. … It should also be noted that it is not clear that Celebrity Showdown would be considered a parody.”
I’ve contacted Antarctic Press for comment, and I’ll update the post when they reply.