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Gritty ‘Power Rangers’ reboot fights legal battle with rights holder
The creator has no idea how long his short film will survive online.
BY SAM GUTELLE
Yesterday, we shared Power/Rangers, a short film that provides a dark re-imagining of its titular franchise. According to director Joseph Kahn, if this concept interests you, you should watch the film now, because he has “no idea how long it’ll be up.” Kahn and his team are in the midst of a legal kerfuffle with Haim Saban, who owns the rights to the Power Rangers franchise.
Power/Rangers, which stars James van der Beek and Katee Sackhoff, arrived on producer Adi Shankar’s YouTube channel at midnight on Feb. 24. In the first 36 hours after its release, it drew more than 6.5 million views, with bloggers and Redditors alike taking a shine to it.
As soon as Power/Rangers soared up the YouTube charts, its legal troubles began. On Twitter, Kahn claimed that Saban, who is producing a film version of Power Rangers alongside Lionsgate, has been “harassing” him about potential copyright infringement.
In addition, the NSFW Vimeo version of the video has been taken down, with a representative for the online video platform writing that “the DMCA law does not give content hosts (like Vimeo) permission to disregard a takedown notice simply because of the presence of one or more fair use factors. This is a legal matter between the copyright holder and the video creator.”
Kahn responded to that takedown with a series of tweets laying out his own opinions on the matter:
Power/Rangers is a part of Shankar’s Bootleg Universe of fan films based on pop culture franchises. In explaining his creative process, Kahn–whose other directorial credits include Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” video–told Deadline he “just wanted to make Power Rangers good for once.”
The legal space occupied by online, independent fan films is a hotly contested topic. Rights holders like Warner Bros and Mojang have struck down high-profile fan films based on their respective properties, with the potential for monetary gain often serving as a critical issue. In this case, since Kahn has said he doesn’t plan to profit from his work, he may be able to turn back Saban’s complaints, but for now, you should probably give the undeniably entertaining Power/Rangers another watch while you still can.
Screengrab via Adi Shankar/YouTube