Have you checked out that incredible Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers“deboot” we posted yesterday? Chances are you initially tried to and failed, and that’s because the short film is already being pulled off certain video services. The bootleg short film Power/Rangers is the brainchild of producer Adi Shankar – the same man behind the amazing Punisher – Laundry Day short with Thomas Jane and the Dredd animated sequel, Dredd: Superfriend – and director Joseph Kahn (Torque, Detention), and gives an R-rated badass version of the Power Rangers like you would have never imagined possible.
It stars fan favourite actors Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek and has been pulling in tonnes of acclaim and praise from the internet as its gone viral… and yet, that has not stopped the Powers That Be from being a bit bullish about it. The first hints of trouble appeared yesterday when Kahn himself first tweeted about it, saying “Y’all better watch the shit out of POWER/RANGERS. No idea how long it’ll be up.” His prediction proved to be accurate, as the film was soon taken down from Vimeo, where it was originally uploaded (although it is still up on Youtube). The source of the takedown? Haim Saban, the current holder of the rights to the Power Rangers franchise, and who is currently in joint-development on a new live-action Power Rangers feature film with Lionsgate.
What’s more, according to a report on Deadline, Kahn is apparently being “harrassed” by Saban who is claiming copyright infringement, a claim that Kahn expectedly disagrees with.
“Saban is trying to shut Power/Rangers down. If you’d like to keep watching, tell them to stop harassing me.”
“Every image in Power/Rangers is original footage. Nothing was pre-existing. There is no copyrighted footage in the short. I am not making any money on it and I refuse to accept any from anyone. It was not even Kickstarted, I paid for it myself. This was made to be given away for free. It is just as if I drew a pic of Power Rangers on a napkin and I gave it to my friend. Is it illegal to give pic I drew of a character on a napkin to someone for free? No.”
Kahn certainly has a point, and according to an anonymous industry copyright lawyer that Deadline contacted, he actually has some legal backing for his claims, as “there is a gray area of ‘fan fiction’ where tributes are made by fans and the studios don’t want to piss off their base by going after these people legally. The guy may have a fair use defense, or a de minimis use defense. It’s not a slam dunk by either side. Trademark law applies as well.”
One of the biggest factors in how that trademark law is applied depends on whether or not the product in question was made for commercial purposes. Kahn has clearly stated that this was in no intention some kind of pitch for a movie or TV series, or his lobbying trying to get the director’s chair on the planned Power Rangers movie. His intentions was a lot more innocent than that:
I just wanted to make Power Rangers good for once. It’s kind of a silly franchise. It was an experiment in tone; it was a challenge. I took the silliest property I could think of and tried to see if I could make it serious enough.”
At the time of writing this, no official legal action has been taken by Saban against Kahn and Lionsgate – who are completely aware of the potential mess that is brewing here – have been content to just watch from the sidelines instead of wading into the muck themselves. If either of those things should happen though, it will most certainly look bad for them as they will appear to be the more powerful entity bullying a fan who was not only not trying to make a single cent off their product, but has arguably produced the best version of their characters ever.
You can be damn sure we will be keeping a close eye on this and reporting everything to you guys as it develops.
Last Updated: February 26, 2015