(Long, semi-coherent, 2 am post coming up)
That’s where things get a little more murky, legally speaking.
It definitely wouldn’t be a trademark/copyright issue, but it isn’t technically the art itself that is causing the problem.
Flash puppets are a lot more than just the individual pictures.
Exudes can certainly tell you more details, but a ton of work goes into stitching all those pieces together into a puppet that can be used by the animation team and it is essentially that production work that they are protecting.
Found a gif from when the leak first happened:
These Flash puppets contain all the assets for a pony from every angle, every standard expression, every… everything, really.
And, perhaps more importantly, it is all already prepackaged in and easy-to-use format.
I’m trying to come up with an analogy that works, but I’m actually just circling back around to the calculator thing I said earlier.
Obviously, no one can lay claim to all computer code capable of adding and subtracting numbers.
A second person could go out and create their own code completely from scratch if they wanted to and there would be no problem, but if you leave or just have a little signature nugget in your code that you are then able to find in other unrelated code, you can quite directly prove that that person stole from you.
Applied to animation puppets, plenty of people have created their own systems for animating ponies and these guys should have no problem on this front (well, besides the standard copyright/trademark stuff for the characters themselves), but, because Hasbro knows that their stuff is out there, they may want to take closer looks at fan projects.
I had never really noticed it before, but that little weirdness in the eye vector has shown up frequently in the show and is clearly an element of these puppets.
If some new animator popped on to the scene with very accurate puppets that also just so happened to have this glitch in them, it would be pretty obvious that they are using Hasbro’s materials.
I think I lost my train of thought in here…
I’ll leave it because it’s late and I still like what I said, even if it wasn’t on the exact topic I was going for.
Okay, my real point was supposed to be about the idea of ‘trade secrets’ in this situation.
The Flash puppets function as a sort of production blueprint for the animators.
They are specially-made tools created specifically for DHX’s employees to do their jobs, creating these pony animations.
The specific methods that they use to achieve this could be considered a ‘trade secret’ of sorts, in a similar way that a food company’s ‘secret recipe’ could be.
Knowing the ingredients is fine (they write most of them on the packaging anyway), but the exact way they are mixed together is the unique element that really makes the final product what it is.
And that’s part of why it is so murky.
For example, Coca-Cola’s exact recipe is a very closely guarded secret, however, all of their raw ingredients are obviously available to the public.
It is plausible that someone could come along and mix all that stuff together in just the right way that they create something chemically identical to Coke.
Because they made it themselves, they could then sell their drink under some other name, but it would taste exactly like Coke.
But, if someone at Coke gets wind of this, they are going to want to know how this guy could just ‘stumble upon’ one of their secrets.
If they had some easy way to prove that he did not, in fact, come up with his drink on his own, but stole it from Coke somehow, there would be trouble.
Again, I’m no legal expert so I don’t know exactly what statute it would fall under, but it would be pretty clearly a case of stealing.
That’s the kind of argument being made with these puppets.
They are DHX’s ‘recipe’ for making their product (episodes) and if they can show that someone is using that recipe, obtained without permission of its creators, they could likely have a case against that person.
Does that make a little more sense?
It’s certainly a bit of a grey area, but there are definitely some legs for Hasbro to stand on.
Speaking of copying stuff:
Yeah, someone recreated a bunch of Fluffle Puff animations using Zelda characters.
I… don’t even know…
(They do link to the original videos in the description so this is meant to be parody, not plagiarism, I believe. Just very odd…)
And ponies invade another game:
The Orbital Friendship Cannon is Online!