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Hypable

You may know that the Harry Potter Alliance, known for its charitable efforts in the Potter fandom, recently launched a campaign to save hunger tied to the release of The Hunger Games.

Today we’re learning that parent studio Lionsgate is not happy with the way the HPA is using The Hunger Games brand to spread its campaign.

The following letter was sent to the Harry Potter Alliance from Lionsgate (thanks to ThinkProgress.org):

Hello,

This morning I left 2 phone messages for your CEO Mr. Jim Daniell regarding your campaign “Hunger is not a Game” piggy backing off of our motion picture “The Hunger Games” and using Lionsgate’s fans and fan internet sites to promote your cause.

As I mentioned in my phone message, Lionsgate has formed a partnership with two large organizations fighting hunger, the UN’s World Food Program and Feeding America. We are encouraging fans to support this effort by going to www.wfp.org/hungergames.

What is not a part of the Lionsgate plan is the distortion of our Motion Picture title. That is what Oxfam has done with your “Hunger is not a Game” logo. And with the many websites you have incorporated into your campaign. This is causing damage to Lionsgate and our marketing efforts.

We understand and support your cause and mission. We are on the same side. We are looking for an amicable resolution. For a start we request that you immediately remove any mention of “Hunger is not a Game” from all of your websites and its affiliates and stop using the slogan in your interviews and publicity or press releases. Additionally, please contact the undersigned so we can work out a mutually acceptable plan to go forward where we do not infringe on each other’s rights.

We are truly making an effort to work with you on this. We have the ability to take down your sites as a violation of our trademark and other intellectual property laws. We hope that will not be necessary as this is too serious a subject.

All rights reserved. Thank you.

Liat Cohen, Esquire
Senior Vice President Business Affairs & Litigation

Think Progress also quotes HPA leader Andrew Slack in response to this letter:

“Fans have been changed by this story and have expressed a wish to change the world based on the message of this story,” Slack emailed me. “I would hope that Lionsgate would celebrate fans, not pick on them, for taking the message of their own movie seriously. It’s amazing that they’re working with two great partners already to fight hunger. But why get in the way of fans who are working with a third one?”

In recent weeks the HPA has worked with many Hunger Games fansites to promote the cause. At the same time, Lionsgate has been working on its own charity efforts (see our report).

Do you think Lionsgate has a good argument or has it taken this too far? We’ll keep you updated on any future developments as they happen.

In the meantime, do check out the Harry Potter Alliance’s ‘Hunger is not a Game’ campaign.

  • pygmypuff22

    They aren’t picking on anyone they are trying to keep control of their brand and they are trying to WORK WITH YOU.

  • http://booksandcastles.blogspot.com/ Sarah

    This is a difficult situation. I understand what Lionsgate is coming from, and under normal circumstances I would agree with them completely. However, I fail to see how this could do anything but help them (unless they only care about getting money for their two charities and no others). Through this, the HPA is raising awareness for The Hunger Games (including the movie) and helping a charity in the process. What’s better than using the success of The Hunger Games to help two charities? Um, that would be using the success to help three.

    • Celithrile

       I completely agree. Unless they’re worried that support for the HPA is gonna cut down on the funds they raise for their own charities, I don’t see why they’re being like that (even though I do understand copyright law).

  • notforbreakfast

    As a designer, I can see where Lionsgate is coming from. The HPA does blatantly use what’s popular as a way of drawing interest, and sometimes toes the line of legal use of branding.

  • TheHamburglar

    Shouldn’t Lionsgate be more worried about their own infringement issues. Even though I’m a huge fan of THG, I would be worried since the comparison between THG and Battle Royale has really picked up steam. I just think they should be protecting themselves before enforcing stuff like this.

    • Katniss

      That’s ridiculous. Lionsgate has nothing to worry about. They legally acquired the rights to make a film based on a book, which like all fiction, can be compared on some levels to another work of fiction. That’s not infringement.

  • Guest

    I think the problem is with the wording. By saying Hunger is not a Game, they seem to accuse (though I’m sure not purposefully) the HG franchise of making hunger into a game. It’s really negative marketing for the movie that could hurt it if people don’t read past the title. Here is an article from NYT explaining the complexity of the HG marketing campaign: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/how-hunger-games-built-up-must-see-fever.html?_r=4&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&fb_source=message 

    Having read this, I can understand why something like this getting outside of their control could be a real problem.

    • http://jimmypautz.com Jimmy Pautz

       You are exactly right.  If HPA would rename their initiative, I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a problem.

    • Tom

      I agree. Their campaign is great but before I read into it, I heard the name ‘Hunger is not a Game’ and I thought it sounded like some kind of protest against the movie and the franchise. Of course it only took a minute to realise that this was not the case, but I can understand Lionsgate having concerns about it. The tone and aggressiveness of this letter is unnecessary though. They could have just asked them nicely if they could change the name of the campaign.

    • Katniss

       Yes! This exactly! Lionsgate’s concerns are legit.

  • LCTerrill

    This is shameless bullying on the part of LG. HP Alliance has been around since before they even started pre-production on this movie, and is simply a collection of fans banding together to do some good in the world (being inspired by their favorite books, of course). I’m sorry, but there’s no way that the HPA campaign is harmful AT ALL to their brand. 

    The undercurrent of malice and the threat in the last bit is ridiculously ironic considering the corrupt corporation/government that drives the storyline of their little cash-cow. They should have ACTUALLY reached out to join forces with their causes, rather than what they’ve done.

    Lion’s Gate, you are disgusting money-grubbers.

    • Guest

      Lionsgate has been working hard to walk the fine line between marketing this film well and stepping over bounds by becoming too much like the Capitol. They have forbidden magazines from using phrases like “Game on” and “Let the Games Begin” because they send the wrong message. Lionsgate has worked hard to reign in the use of the title to protect the film…not necessarily to save their own money. Besides, Lionsgate does have the right to pull all of it and they are being rather kind to not just pull it, but give the Harry Potter Alliance a chance to change it. When I first read the title I really did think that “Hunger is not a Game” was accusatory, especially since the name of the organization is based on Harry Potter and for those who don’t know what it is…and have no idea that it covers lots of fandoms besides Harry Potter…..people may assume (without further research) that it is Harry Potter fans accusing the Hunger Games franchise of making Hunger into a Game. That’s what it looks like and that is why Lionsgate is upset…………it’s really poorly named….

      • Trixie99

        I can understand if the issue simply lies with the “Hunger is not a Game” slogan and they merely asked them to remove it from their campaign.  Perhaps that is all they want to do, but in that letter it refers to them… using Liongate’s fans and internet sites to promote their cause…. which considering it’s for charity, I don’t understand why that would be a problem.  I don’t understand why it would be so wrong for them to reach out to their fans to help the cause.  

  • eiVega

    I actually did think the phrasing of “Hunger is Not a Game” was a bit awkward initially.  Lionsgate is not discouraging fans from having their own social justice campaigns but asking them to refrain from using their copyrighted material.  They don’t have the proper license to borrow these things.  It’s technically stealing.  I don’t think Lionsgate is being a bully.  This is their right.  This is the law.  Their letter seems very polite and they said they are willing to work with HPA.  They could have just as easily shut down everything if they wanted to be mean.  They have the power to completely end the program and the law would be behind them.  I honestly think people abused the liberty to take Harry Potter words and imagery for their own personal use.  Lionsgate is just being protected.  We can still fight hunger in the name of Katniss.  We don’t need to steal their property to do it.

  • Angela

    Sure, okay, I understand they’re upset, but the “we have the ability to take down your sites” threat is uncalled for. HPA has been around and successfully doing good things even before the THG books were born. They can’t seriously be threatening to take it down because of something as, quite honestly, meager as this. It’s a cruel power-play against an organization whose only goal is to do the world some good. It’s like something the Capitol would do.

    • Guest

      I don’t think they are threatening, just pointing out that they have the right to, so that HPA knows they really want to help them, since they could have taken it down without sending them a letter. Offering to work with them is big of them, since the don’t have to.

      • Angela

        Yes, but when you genuinely want to help someone, you don’t write a letter that basically demands a cease-and-desist-stop-everything-even-if-it’s-for-a-good-cause, and then finish off with a less-than-friendly warning of what they can do, and will do: “We hope that will not be necessary,” basically meaning, “We hope it doesn’t come to this but if you don’t do as you’re told we will be obligated to use force.” In my opinion, all the “We are on the same side” sugarcoating pleasantries are just there so they don’t look too much like the bad guys, because they’re smart enough to know that if a letter that just point-blank contains their demands and none of their ‘kindness’ gets published like it did now, they wouldn’t exactly be getting any kind of good publicity. If they really wanted to be able to work with them, they would be trying to figure out a way to perhaps collaborate so they can help all three charities, not give a drop-everything-now order.

        Furthermore, they’re also smart enough to contact the HPA before shutting them down even if they could just do it right away, again, because honestly, how will they look to the public if they suddenly shut down a fan movement helping a cause without giving any sort of warning? Yes, they’re trying to protect their brand, I understand that, but obviously this has the potential of being blown out of proportion and when it does, they have to protect their image.

  • expectogirl

    I am confused by this. Obviously the HPA has been working with Hunger Game fans to HELP people for awhile now! HPA has worked with other fandoms in the past, so why does Lionsgate have an issue with this? Do they think they own the rights to the words “hunger” and “game(s)” or slightly similar artwork? What about fanart/fiction that use these themes and make NO PROFIT for the fan artists/authors? So is Lionsgate going to send threatening letters to all Hunger Game fansites for using these words/artwork too? Are there any other Hunger Game Fan Charities they are going to bully now also? Isn’t this targeting the fans of Hunger Games (especially who are HPA members), the very people who are making Lionsgate RICH this weekend? Ugh, this makes me so sad:(

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maria-Wang/542480760 Maria Wang

    ok, now this is how you start a trend #notagame.  

  • akacj18

    i get the impression from this letter that Lionsgate made a deliberate choice not to use The Hunger Games brand name as a means of promoting a cause, which i can appreciate. it seems to me they are trying to retain that integrity in asking HPA to alter their marketing scheme. beyond these observations i don’t know enough about all this stuff to make an informed opinion.

  • http://twitter.com/SlySound Brett H

    Two issues with the campaign:

    1.) The title – On first read, it has a negative connotation 
    2.) The potential to “rob” Lionsgate of support for its charities

    I support HPA and Imagine Better but they could simply just the name. 

    • Trixie99

      I can understand your number 1 but your number 2 doesn’t really make much sense since the charities Lionsgate apparently have are fighting for the same cause as the HPA.  Why does it matter which one gets the support as long as it goes to the cause?  Shouldn’t the cause be what matters?  Not who’s going to get credit for the charity?

  • Darcy

    The fact that they’re giving their full support to two organizations and then be completely hostile towards a practically identical third one just because they’re not getting their share from it makes me wonder if this “partnership” with the former two is even about trying to fight hunger anymore, or merely just another way to rake in the profits.

    Also, “…using Lionsgate’s fans and fan internet sites to promote your cause.” Huh. I’m pretty sure I’m a fan of THE HUNGER GAMES, not Lionsgate. At this point, after all the ridiculous Twilight-esque publicity, promotion products and just about all the money-mongering techniques they used in promoting The Hunger Games (to the point where it almost became overrated; thank god the film was worth it), I don’t even like Lionsgate, let alone call myself a fan of it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Seth-Wells/1130513697 Seth Wells

    i agree with 
    Lionsgate 100% on this one, the wording is horrible and im sure they are giving them once chance to work with them, if not the 20+ lawyers will be on HPA, they are banking on these  movies so anything that can get in the way of that they will take down 

  • Hermione Granger

    No. I think Lionsgate is a greedy corporation who is only teaming up with these other organizations so it makes them look good. HPA, a fantastic charity, should have every right to proceed with their campaign and call it what they like. Lionsgate sounds like the Capitol. Basically, they think HPA using that name will make them less money. Well I’m sorry but BOO-HOO. They’re sitting there getting filthy rich with their movie and their nail polish line and whatever else, so I think they can afford it.

  • Jason

    Piggybacking? With all the free ADVERTISING mugglecast gave you? For like 200 episodes THAT was the opening. 

  • HP-Glee-Hunger-Games-Fan

    I agree with several others that the wording of the HPA’s campaign is the problem. From the letter, it sounds as if Lionsgate actually approves of the campaign itself, and would probably be willing to support it were this resolbed. By saying “Hunger is not a Game,” it sounds like they are accusing the book and film of not taking the topic seriously, and just capitalizing off of it.
    People who don’t know what the campaign or movie is about could hear that and assume “Oh, this has to do with that new movie everyone’s talking about. Just another pathetic example of the media and film industry cashing on on others’ struggles” when the film is actually bringing this to light through its criticism of reality television.
    If the HPA would give in just this once and rename their campaign, this could be resolved.
    All of their Harry Potter campaigns were either named positively (like In Harry’s Name) or referred to concepts within the books, like horcruxes. None of those names damaged people’s view of Harry Potte.r

  • LilyLuna

    Wait how is this even infringement? I’m pretty sure this is fine under the Fair Use Doctrine. HPA is a non-profit organization for charity. I see nothing wrong with their use of the slogan (which doesn’t even use the “Hunger Games” copyright, which I’m pretty sure does not defend against simply using the two words together in a sentance). I disagree that they should bully HPA for this because I highly doubt it’s harming the film, but rather promoting it to other fandoms. I can see their point to an extent, but I don’t think they’ve got much backing the claim up legally and they could’ve taken less of a ‘school yard bully’ approach. I just don’t think Lionsgate should make a habit of stepping on the toes of fans.

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