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I really like a board game. This game includes artistic references (as parody) to a well-known movie.

I wanted to improve the pieces of the board game (which were 2-dimensional) to augment my own experience playing it. This led me to create a 3D printable model of a ship from the movie that modeled the parody's artwork (which has significant differences from the movie, but is still recognizable as a ship from the movie, as its intent is parody).

In order to accomplish this, I started with a fan-made model of the ship from the original movie that I found on Thingiverse. I altered it significantly in order to match the parody's artistic style and to work as a printable game piece.

The fan's model has an Attribution-NonCommercial license on it.

I played the board game with some of my friends. Some of my friends want to pay me to make them their own copies of the game pieces, which includes (among many things) this ship.

My four questions: (1) Is my creation of this game piece considered parody because I am very explicitly copying parody? If so it might allow me to be able to sell these pieces under the "fair use" clause. http://lemoinefirm.com/parody-fair-use-or-copyright-infringement

(2) What about if I get permission to sell? Who's permission would I need: the parody game maker's? The fan's, who modeled the spaceship? Or the makers of the movie themselves?

(3) Does the fan have the right to put a copyright license on his model of the ship in the first place because he is explicitly copying someone else? Or is his work considered art?

(4) Has my work been altered enough (now that it distinctly resembles the parody and not the model I used) that it is considered new artwork that has my copyright, not the fan's? https://www.wildlifeartstore.com/can-you-copy-art/

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  • Thanks for the edit. @BlueDogRanch Jan 29, 2023 at 22:45

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Copyright is hard.

The movie has a copyright, and so has its ship model. This is the original copyright.

The boardgame has a token. That thing has its own copyright, no matter if it's a parody of another thing or not. The copyright holder might not be the boardgame maker, but it is under copyright. In any way, parody is fair use, so no harm here.

The model has a copyright, but also infringes on the film's copyright as it is a derivative of the film. If the film copyright holder wants, they can have it taken down and sue the maker. In any way, this model is available under a specific license. The model license is clearly Non Commercial. The CC-A-NC license can't be changed to one that is commercial. You can only add more No categories.

The questions:

1 - No. Your work is a derivative work of both the model AND the boardgame. You don't parody the boardgame.

2 - You need a license from not one but at least two sources: the model author and the boardgame copyright holder. You might even need a license from the original film company.

3 - YES. He made the model, he can license it as he wants, but the license might be ineffective: He might have coverage under an explicit fan license with the movie company to make the model (allowing sharing under such other license) or not (when it might be silent acceptance of fan works, am implicit license or just plain lack of knowledge of the infringing model) - determining if the company wants to pursue is not your legal battle. Your battle is more likely with the copyright holder (of movie and boardgame) anyway because you lack a valid license from them. "I used this infringing model and breached the license I got it under" is... a very precarious point in court.

4 - No. You used the other work, you can't get out of the CC-A-NC license by altering the item. It'll always be a derivative work of the model you put in. You only get copyright in the changes. The resulting item has shared copyright with the original model maker. He gave you a license to do that, but the unbreakable condition unless you get a different license is: You can't ever sell this, you HAVE to tell them that I was part of this design.

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