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Ninja Turtles Snap at Live-Action Show, Viacom Sues for Copyright Violation

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

If only turtles could talk.

Like, would the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really want to sue the live-action dancers who portray them for elementary school children? That's what the Guardian Anti-Bullying Campaign does, traveling across the Southwest to teach kids to stand up to bullies.

Horse manure, cowabunga or whatever, says Viacom, which owns the Ninja Turtle enterprise. The company has sued Mark Anthony Baca and his show for copyright and trademark violations.

Cowabuncha Complaints

Baca has been doing the show for years, and Viacom has been demanding he cease and desist for years. According to the complaint filed in federal court in New Mexico, Baca finally promised to stop last year.

But in January 2018, the complaint says, "Viacom contacted defendants once again, and defendants once again acknowledged their wrongdoing and agreed to cease their infringement."

The show must have gone on because the company sued soon after. The defendants reportedly claim it is a parody; Viacom says it's not funny.

"The show is not a parody," says the complaint. "The show provides no meaningful commentary upon, or criticism of, the Ninja Turtles. Additionally, the Ninja Turtles characters are portrayed without any irony or self-awareness that would suggest a parodic element to the show."

Baca said he changed the show to fit the legal definition of a parody. Maybe it's time to bring in the clowns?

Lawyers, Not Turtles, Talk

According to reports, Viacom's attorneys contacted the defendants about the alleged infringement twice in the past three weeks. But it was just talk because the show is reportedly still on the road.

Courthouse News says performances are scheduled through April 5 in four different states. Tickets are on sale for up to $25 each. Turtle merchandise will be for sale, too.

The costumed dancers will also do a "meet and greet," but they won't be saying much. Kids know only the real Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles talk.

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