Screwed by the Lawyers

"Hey, hey, kids! Your old pal Krusty is going to teach you five new words: unlicensed use of my image!"
Krusty the Clown, The Simpsons ("Treehouse of Horror XIX")

Copyright and Trademark law have gotten in the way of or forced cancellation for many works. No matter how promising, popular or profitable a show is, it's still apt to get canceled if it would be illegal to keep broadcasting. This can be prone to What an Idiot moments on the part of the owner of the intellectual property in question, since if it's that profitable, it makes sense to license the work rather than shut it down, unless of course the artist is Doing It for the Art.

Fans may have to Keep Circulating the Tapes if legal troubles also forbid a home release.

Sometimes, the reason why a trademark is so zealously protected is because the holder wants to prevent it from entering common use as a generic term, which would cause them to lose it. This has happened with Aspirin (once a Bayer trademarknote note ), Cellophane, and other "genericized" trademarks. It's also why most productions bend over backwards to make sure that Real Life product names are not mentioned at all (unless as Product Placement), and certainly never as generics. But note that this only applies to trademarks, not to copyrights. Additionally, note that (contrary to the common misunderstanding of this law) a company is never legally required to protect a trademark in order to keep it — they don't lose it simply for failing to protect it; they only lose it if it enters common use as a generic term to the point where it is no longer trademarkable.

The Other Wiki refers to this as the tragedy of the anticommons, where the existence of competing rights holders — not just in copyright, but also in patent law,note  land ownership,note  leasing rights and other areas — frustrates achieving a socially desirable outcome. To further complicate matters, organizations of all kinds try as hard as possible to blur the lines between copyrights, patents, and trademarks in their favour.

Related to Screwed by the Network.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • The spectacular legal pileup on both sides of the Pacific Ocean between multiple rightsholders in the Macross franchise has ensured that precious little of the franchise can ever be released in the United States:
    • Bandai was going to release the video game Macross VFX II in the US — even released a demo disc with one of the major game magazines. Harmony Gold forced them to stop.
    • Macross 7, Macross Zero and Macross Frontier will most likely not be released, because of bad blood between Harmony Gold and Big West making such a release impossible. In Macross 7's case, another obstacle is the music licensing, which is a tangled weave.
    • Numerous attempts to bring out the widely praised Yamato's Macross transformable toys have met with C&D letters. Yamato even tried to release the toys with all Macross indicia removed, under the name of "Sunwards". It failed.
    • The only reason, apparently, that Macross Plus and Macross II were released and still enjoy widespread release in the US is that they came out at a time in which HG was "not minding the store", according to rumors that they were weakened after a head-hunting raid by Haim Saban. And that the Japanese side of the pileup was actually listening to the fans and the rest of the industry.
      • Tracks from the Macross Plus are being steadily removed from YouTube, due to complaints from the copyright holders to the music.
    • It's still a minor miracle that the original series attained a US release, first through AnimEigo and then through ADV.
    • The big one, though, is Macross: Do You Remember Love. This is considered one of the holy grails of old-school anime fandom. However, numerous companies — the usual names in the conflict, such as Big West, Studio Nue, Tatsunoko Production and Harmony Gold, as well as other companies such as Shogakukan, Japan Victor Musical Industries, and even Godzilla studio Toho — are all squabbling, making a veritable legal Gambit Pileup, one so intractable that some names in the anime industry think we'll see a cure for cancer, world peace and the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series before DYRL is legally released again outside Japan.
      • Unlike 7, Zero, and Frontier, though, DYRL was released on VHS in the US and the UK during the mid-1990s. The US got a heavily-cut version titled Clash of the Bionoids (released by Celebrity Home Entertainment), and also a version with fewer cuts or no cuts titled Superdimensional Fortress Macross (released by Best Film and Video), both of which had an English dub commissioned by Toho, which was similar to the dubs for Toho's Godzilla movies. In the UK, Kiseki Films released a version with the dub and a subtitled versionnote , both uncut. Now that DYRL has been released on Blu-ray, the unavaliability-to-those-without-a-region-2-player issue has been solved, but there is still another trope very much in play.
  • The 1997-2002 legal battles between the co-creators of Candy Candy over ownership of the series led to the prohibition of a massive number of merchandise on the series. Said merchandise include home video releases, preventing anyone from legally releasing the anime anywhere, not even Toei Animation in their home country; a halting that persists to this day. Though somehow parts of Latin America were able to get a rerelease in 2012.
  • In 1982, TMS and DiC decided to collaborate to create a spin-off series of Lupin III that took place in the future, titled Lupin VIII. One episode was already completely animated and given sound and music, but before they could add a vocal track, the Maurice LeBlanc estate (who owned the rights to the Arsčne Lupin name) threatened to sue their collective butts if they were to broadcast it in Europe, so cancellation was inevitable. VHS tapes containing the first episode without voice-overs are still in circulation, however. Incidentally, the cancellation of Lupin VIII directly resulted in the creation of Inspector Gadget, when DiC was told to come up with a replacement.
  • Viz has not yet released the majority of the Monster anime on video, nor will it ever, due to the series's use of licensed music. The first half was released on DVD with the licensed music replaced, but the second half has "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as a plot point and thus cannot be easily changed to something else. (This hasn't stopped Viz from distributing this show digitally or it airing in its entirety on television, however. The fact that the series apparently sold very poorly is probably a bigger factor than the music.)
  • In 2008, Disney's Brazilian branch announced they would be publishing the Kingdom Hearts manga in the country (it was a match made in heaven — Disney's comics were already good sellers, so the manga served as a way to attract both readers of those comics and manga readers). However, Square Enix objected to the idea and stopped it from being published (after it was already announced), for the (rather odd) reason that the game was never officially released in the country, therefore getting Adaptation First on shelves was a no-no. BR Disney and Square Enix's squabble lasted for quite a while before the manga could finally be released in 2013, 5 years later.
  • A legal squabble between Shogakukan and Makoto Raiku over Zatch Bell! resulted in Raiku gaining all rights to the series (including the anime). He proceeded to immediately void all international licence agreements, which forced Viz to halt their manga release three-quarters of the way through.
  • While Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam was released in the US, the DVD/Blu-Ray release had altered opening and ending music. This is because the opening and ending themes were written by 60's pop maven Neil Sedaka, who for reasons unclear (whether licensing fees, Old Shame or worries about being seen as Japandering) has not assented tho their use outside of Japan. This also affects Japan as whenever Zeta Gundam is used in a Super Robot Wars game, they end up using one of the series' incidental musics instead.
  • A peculiar case of this trope in Gundam Build Fighters: Due to legal agreements with Japanese TV networks, Mobile Suits that have aired on MBS and TBS in the last 5 years cannot be shown. This means the suits from the latter half of Mobile Suit Gundam 00 and from Mobile Suit Gundam AGE cannot be entirely used. Apparently averted with the Gundam 00 Movie and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, due to their nature as a feature film and OVA, respectively.
  • Similar to the Zeta Gundam example, the first opening of Kodomo no Omocha suffered the same fate. Tokio's contract prohibited their music to be used overseas so Funimation used the second season's opening instead. Furthermore, a member of Tokio cameos in the first episode while the forbidden song plays in the background. The English dub track simply renames the band "Kyoto" and again swaps in the 2nd opening song. On the Japanese track...silence.
    • It's not just overseas releases that suffered this fate. Johnny's Entertainment has a reputation for having a controlled, iron grip over its acts. The opening theme for Akazukin Cha Cha was originally sung by SMAP, but in all home releases, the opening theme was re-arranged and sung by a different vocalist. Also, 4Kids Entertainment originally streamed the original Japanese episodes of Yu-Gi-Oh!, but were forced to take them down because of contract regulations with Shunsuke Kazama, Yugi's voice actor (who is part of Johnny's as an Idol Singer).
  • Funimation was forced to rename their release of Detective Conan by the original licensors because they (the licensors) were afraid of a lawsuit by the estate of Robert E. Howard over the trademark of "Conan". Moreover, the name changes (which include the show being renamed "Case Closed") were even forced on Viz by TMS, making it one of the rare examples of a Macekre that actually wasn't the English production company's fault. Viz's English release of the manga was also affected as a result.
  • A number of disputes involving CBS (who now owns the entire TV back catalog of...), Viacom (the English version's original distributor, and Nickelodeon's parent company; now a separate company from CBS), DHX Media (who absorbed Cookie Jar, who were previously known as Cinar, the original producers of the dub) and licensors Studio Ghibli (the successors to the original studio that produced the series) and Tohokushinsha Film Corporation have kept "Koala Boy Kokki" (AKA: "The Adventures of the Little Koala") from seeing a Region 1 DVD release. Only one VHS release was ever sold in the US, and that was only because the series was still running on Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. block at the time. Hope you were lucky to have taped the show then.
  • The first three Pokémon movies have not seen the light of day in the U.S. and the rest of Region 1 since their original theatrical and DVD releases. With the exception of occasional TV broadcastsnote , Warner Bros. (who distributed the three films to theaters) hasn't been able to warm up legal relations with Nintendo, The Pokemon Company (both of whom license the anime) and Toho (the owners of the Japanese versions of the movies). The prospect of a remastered DVD or Blu-ray release is highly unlikely because of this.
    • WB released all three movies in one DVD pack in 2009, but that is long out of print.
    • Interestingly enough, Pokémon: The Power of One and Pokémon: Spell of the Unown managed to get available for purchase on iTunes around 2009-2010, courtesy of Warner Bros. Unfortunately, they were only available through that time period, as it was too costly to renew the agreement to keep the films on iTunes.
  • When the Suzumiya Haruhi anime's first season was finally licensed in North America, it came with a massive viral marketing campaign that often reached out to fans, and one of the things Bandai Entertainment did with that was regularly promoting fanworks. However, this was at the exact same time that Kadokawa in Japan was sending out wave after wave of copyright claims on Haruhi videos. An effort to try and clamp down on full-episode uploads ended up making it so that the AMVs, cosplay videos, and fan performances of things like the ending theme dance that the North American licensors were actively promoting were quickly shut down by the original copyright holders in Japan.

    Comic Books 
  • In the late 1990s, Black Mermaid Productions of Australia were responsible for ElfQuest: Wavedancers, which featured a group of aquatic elves. "Creative differences" between Black Mermaid and EQ publisher Warp Graphics led to the cancellation of the series, and an agreement that neither company would reprint it. Warp came out with its own Wavedancers series featuring new characters, while Black Mermaid is reportedly working on something called Elf Fin.
  • Zenith cannot be reprinted because Grant Morrison claims that when Rebellion bought the rights to Two Thousand AD from IPC, it apparently didn't include the rights to Zenith. The issues have evidently been overcome, however—The Complete Zenith is now on sale at the 2000AD website.
  • Morrison's Doom Patrol and Flex Mentallo were kept out of reprints until the 2000s because of a trademark dispute with the Charles Atlas bodybuilding company over the character Flex, who began as a parody of Atlas's iconic comic strip advertisements.
  • Something of a running gag with Todd McFarlane and Spawn.
    • McFarlane was sued by NHL player Anthony Rory Twist over the mobster Tony Twist, who McFarlane had admitted was named after him. In 2004 McFarlane was found guilty of having profited on Twist's likeness and eventually settled out of court.
    • McFarlane's habit of claiming sole ownership over the characters he co-created - dating back to his work on Venom - has gotten him into a lot of trouble with Neil Gaiman, who wrote the stories that introduced the key characters Angela, Cogliostro, and Medieval Spawn in 1993. This resulted in an arduous legal battle that lasted until 2004, where a court hearing granted them joint ownership. Gaiman later returned to court over expies of Medieval Spawn and Angela and McFarlane's use of Miracleman, and it was ultimately decided that Gaiman would get Angela - eventually selling her to Marvel Comics in 2013 - and McFarlane would get Medieval Spawn and Cog.
    • Another well-known 80's superhero comic that has been caught in a rights-ownership dispute for decades is the Alan Moore/Neil Gaiman Marvelman (Miracle Man in America) - Rebellion, IPC, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore and Todd McFarlane all claim to own the series, which dooms any chance of it ever being revived. Marvel has apparently cleared the rights for the earliest stories featuring the character, but not for its run in Warrior magazine or Eclipse Comics. Said run, featuring the work of Moore and Gaiman, is naturally of the most interest to comic readers and was left as a particularly sad example of Keep Circulating the Tapes. McFarlane claimed he had gotten the rights to Miracleman when he purchased Eclipse's creative assets in 1996, and introduced the character into Spawn as a cosmic entity called the "Man Of Miracles/Mother of Creation. In 2001, Gaiman launched a second lawsuit against McFarlane to get ownership of the character back, and in 2009 Marvel purchased the character from his original creator, Mick Anglo. In 2014, Marvel finally began reprinting the Moore issues from the start in serial form, and has promised that once the Gaiman issues run out they will publish new issues that continue the arcs as originally planned, while Spawn underwent a Continuity Reboot that retconned Miracleman out of the comic.
  • The 1978 one-shot comic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali was not reprinted until 2010, as the cover included the likenesses of over a hundred 1970s celebrities in the background. The lawyers had to be convinced no one would sue.
  • In 2010, Ken Penders, former head writer of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog filed copyright claims for all of his characters and creations in an attempt to gain royalties for their use, promoting Archie Comics to file a lawsuit against him and take him to court to disprove his claims. While things didn't seem all that bad at first, the case began to swing in Penders' favor when it became clear that Archie could not prove their ownership of the properties in question and caused so many delays in court that the judge threatened to throw the case out, which would give Penders the victory by default.note  In a panic, Archie decided to remove all of Penders' creations from the comic while it was in the middle of a story arc that centered around them, throwing the plot completely out of whack and making fans (and the creative staff) livid. In the end, the two sides settled, and though Penders stated that Archie could be allowed to use his creations anyway, the conditions he put up for that didn't sit well with Archie and they instead decided to perform a soft reboot for the series via a Cosmic Retcon at the end of Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide.
    • There is also a rumor that this has made Archie very paranoid and they're going so far as to forbid the use of any character outside of the video games, the American cartoons and anyone created by current writer Ian Flynn. However, because of how differently things work between Japan and America, Archie isn't allowed to use anything from Japan outside the games. This earned them Sega's ire when one early issue used Sonic The Hedgehog The Movie.
  • For a couple of years, Viz featured a strip called Captain Morgan and his Hammond Organ, about a pirate captain who was more interested in playing 70s pop and disco hits on his Wurlitzer than in raiding other ships (it makes no more sense in context). Unfortunately, the copyright holders of the songs complained. Viz didn't have a leg to stand on legally, and the only way out was to have used songs that were out of copyright, like hymns and spirituals. Given that this would have killed the joke, Viz had no choice but to drop the strip.
  • Marvel Comics' Rom Spaceknight will probably never be collected in a trade. Rom was a space based hero who fought gigantic Eldritch Abomination creatures called the Dire Wraiths. But seeing as Rom is owned by Hasbro via Parker Brothers, Marvel doesn't own the rights to the name. The best we've seen is a Serial Numbers Filed Off offspring who talks about a great hero.
    • Something of the sort also happened to Godzilla as the beast once rampaged through Earth-616, chased by S.H.I.E.L.D. Once Marvel lost the rights to the beast, they used one story where one of the villains created during this time mutated him into something different, though that was retconned. He reappeared years later with a different, yet still Godzilla-like look, appearing just long enough so that his storyline with another character could be completed with him being killed.
  • The Spider-Man storyline Spider-Verse had virtually every Spider-Man in existence show up in some form. However, there are eight that were not allowed to appear. Seven were confirmed, though: the Spider-Man portrayed by Tobey Maguire, the Spider-Man portrayed by Andrew Garfield, the Spider-Man of The Spectacular Spider Man, the Spider-Man of Spider-Man: The New Animated Series and the three Spider-Boys from the Amalgam Universe. The first four are because of Sony Pictures. The latter three are because of DC Comics.
  • It's rumored that the reason Eli Bradley (AKA Patriot) hasn't appeared in any of the Young Avengers-related comics in recent years is due to a legal dispute between Marvel and the estate of Robert Morales, who created the Bradley family.

    Fan Works 
  • Sometimes this happens to Fan Sequels and Fan Remakes based on licensed properties, the most famous cases probably being Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes and Streets of Rage Remake. Chrono Trigger Resurrection met the same fate.
  • The Legend of Zelda fan-movie The Hero of Time was prevented distribution by Nintendo via cease-and-desist letter (see below for more info). However, Nintendo was nice enough to let the creators keep the movie up for about half a month in the holiday spirit at the end of 2009, which is a hell of a lot better than most companies do.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 fan-film Damnatus originally had Games Workshop's full support, but during post production, problems with intellectual property rights arose due to differences between British and German copyright law.note  Thus, the movie was banned from official release. However, someone leaked the movie, so it can be seen. Thus, it was the lawyers that got screwed. The leak was also a case of Exact Words. They were told that they didn't have to delete the copy on their servers but couldn't release it. They agreed and didn't put any security on their servers to prevent hacking. Damnatus later got hit with this again when the leaked video's hosting site, MegaUpload, became the victim of a DMCA takedown.
  • Turn Signals on a Land Raider, a Warhammer 40K webcomic, stopped because it was becoming too time-consuming and expensive to do. The reason the lawyers got involved is that the only way to really give it a chance to make enough money to continue was to make it into a book. But Games Workshop refused to grant permission. Despite that refusal being of questionable legality (it probably would be legal under fair use or parody), it wouldn't be worth the hassle if the guy got sued.
  • A YouTube user by the name of DisneyNAW spent nearly an entire year working on a fan-film called "The Grand Adventure" which was pretty much a Mega Crossover of everything Disney starring Mickey, Donald and Goofy as they try to take down Chernabog. Halfway through the editing, he got a letter from Disney telling him not to post it online. Not for copyright law or anything, though that could be considered a major factor, but because of how certain characters are portrayed. First was Mickey, who was portrayed as mischievous. While they thought he perfectly captured his character, they wanted to bring Mickey's mischievous character their own way. And the second was Chernabog being portrayed as an Expy of The Devil, which collides with another reason why they C&D'd it: It felt a little too dark and edgy to them. Despite these reasons, they enjoyed watching the movie and gave DisneyNAW compliments on making the film.
  • A modding group building a total conversion of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim into Middle-Earth was told to C&D by Warner Brothers because they didn't want it competing with The Lord of the Rings Online.
  • Marvel Comics put the kibosh on various super hero skins for The Sims.
  • In late February 2015, a Power Rangers Darker and Edgier "bootleg movie", Power/Rangers, was released to the Internet. Not only was the movie incredibly polarizing to the fanbase and non-fans, Saban Brands did not like this at all and put in C&D notices for it on YouTube and Vimeo, where they were hosted.
  • Equestria Daily staff member "Alexstrasza" created a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic T-shirt parodying Game of Thrones, featuring Twilight Sparkle as Ned Stark and with the motto "Winter is Coming" on the bottom. A week after it was posted on Teepublic, the site found out a week later, through an angry letter from HBO, that the motto had been trademarked by the network that year and had to pull the shirt from the store. Alexstrasza later posted a slightly modified version of the shirt, with the less infringing phrase, "Friendship is Coming," a suggestion that Equestria Daily administrator Sethisto did not fail to bring up shortly after announcing its takedown.

    Film 
  • The indie slasher All the Boys Love Mandy Lane didn't see the light of day in the United States for years, due to the company that held the American distribution rights to it going bankrupt and closing its doors, leaving the rights in limbo and the film sitting on The Shelf of Movie Languishment. It didn't help that it was also Screwed by the StudioThe Weinstein Company dumped the film on the now-bankrupt distributor once they saw a number of horror films (most notably Grindhouse) go bust at the box office, despite having already paid $3 million for the rights to it. Luckily, the rights were eventually sorted out, and in 2013 it received a limited theatrical release before hitting DVD.
  • Many people believe The Day the Clown Cried was never released due to poor taste but it was actually due to copyright issues over the script. In fact, Jerry Lewis was technically not supposed to finish it but he did, resulting in the movie being completed but rarely seen.
  • Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story was a sardonic biopic by Todd Haynes about Karen Carpenter's rise and bulimia-related death, with the additional gimmick that the Carpenters were represented by Barbie dolls. Due to the angry lawsuits from Karen Carpenter's estate and Mattel, the movie will probably never be screened legally again.
  • In a rare example of an actor being forced into servitude by a film studio (after the end of the contract player era), Mike Myers withdrew from a proposed adaptation of his Saturday Night Live sketch Sprockets due to Old Shame of a script he wrote for the film. This pissed off Universal so much that they sued him a year later for failure to abide with the contract he signed with them. He tried to countersue, but a settlement was eventually reached in which he was required to work on a different project for them. After Tim Allen withdrew from playing the title role for the Live-Action Adaptation of The Cat in the Hat, Myers was eventually brought in. This event, along with his reputation of being a Prima Donna on set, contributed to his eventual downfall.
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a big victim of this, being a shared universe for a handful of cinematic characters adapted from a shared universe for hundreds of comic book characters.
    • Thor, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Nick Fury, and recently Daredevil and Ghost Rider can freely interact with each other in the movies just like they do in the comics, but the X-Men and the Fantastic Four continue to exist in their own stand-alone universes because their movie rights are owned by Twentieth Century Fox and due to the way Marvel Studios operated back before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was conceptualized. As awesome as it would be, it's unlikely that we'll ever see an Avengers-style crossover featuring X-Men or the Fantastic Four, even though these are very common in the comics. Same thing did apply to Spider-Man with his rights being owned by Sony, until in February of 2015 Sony struck a deal with Marvel that allows Spidey to exist in the MCU.
    • Two major exceptions to this situation are Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch: Being equally known as mutants and as Avengers in the comics, Marvel Studios and Fox have shared dibs on them, with Quicksilver appearing in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sole stipulation is that Marvel Studios cannot have them be mutants and Fox cannot discuss their time as Avengers.
    • It's also been stated that something similar exists for the Skrulls and Namor. The Skrulls were kept out of the Guardians of the Galaxy because Marvel shares the rights with Fox, and Namor has not yet been seen in the MCU because of legal issues with Universal Studios.
    • The main caveat with the film rights is basically "use it or lose it", meaning that if certain film rights aren't used, they revert back to Marvelnote . Thus, Fox and Sony are rushing out X-Men and Spider-Man films respectively in rapid succession to keep the film rights away from Marvel, and Fox is rebooting the Fantastic Four in hopes that the second try will work out better than the first in order to justify making movies to keep the film rights away; conversely, they both simply gave up on Ghost Rider and Daredevil due to their box office weakness under their tenurenote . The whole rights debacle is also the main reason why the Spider-Man movies were rebooted note , and after the sequel somewhat flopped they struck the aforementioned deal with Marvel.
    • This has created a Catch-22: When Marvel does regain a new property, it's usually only because the property's reputation had been too badly tarnished by the previous studio to continue making sequels. After The Incredible Hulk did poor business at the box office (which many blamed on the previous Ink Stain Adaptation), Marvel decided not to rush out and try integrate these properties right away, instead opting to focus on newer characters like Black Panther, The Inhumans, and Captain Marvel. This is why Daredevil was relegated to a Netflix TV show instead of a full-fledged movie reboot, and why it's unlikely we'll be seeing Blade or The Punisher reboots anytime soon:
      Kevin Feige: Whenever a character comes back to us, it's usually because the other studios don't want to make the movies anymore — and that usually means the [previous] movies may not have been particularly well-received. They all have potential, but we're not going to say "We got it back — make it."
    • According to Mark Ruffalo, the aforementioned legal issues involving Namor and the Skrulls with Universal also apply to the Hulk as well, as Universal still retains some rights to make and distribute stand-alone Hulk movies, as they did with the original Hulk and The Incredible Hulk, and Marvel can't seem to push them into giving the rights back, making the likelihood of another standalone movie featuring the Hulk unlikely.
  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension allegedly saw attempts at continuation blocked, despite interest, because rightsholder David Begelman feared that his creative bookkeeping might get exposed in the process.
  • Let It Be. Observers have said that the film will likely never be rereleased as long as Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are still alive, due to its unflattering and downright painful look at the slow collapse and eventual breakup of The Beatles.
  • Nosferatu was nearly lost forever after the studio was sued by Bram Stoker's estate for its similarities to Dracula.
  • The Janus Head was basically The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with the names changed, and it got sued by the R.L. Stevenson estate. The problem was that if they did it as a straight-up Jekyll and Hyde movie, it would give away the ending. Unlike Nosferatu, this one really seems to be gone forever.
  • The best Mario Bava, Rabid Dogs, is the one he himself never lived to see. The reason? The producer died as production was nearing completion, and his creditors, taking advantage of it, froze his assets and seized the film for over two decades. Owing to the circumstances, a Conspiracy Theory exists where the creditors put a contract out on the producer just to screw Bava's greatest masterpiece over.
  • For over two decades, Nintendo has had a strict policy of refusing to allow any of their video game franchises be adapted into films or film series. This was enforced after the Live-Action Adaptation of Super Mario Bros. became a catastrophic flop with both fans and critics. This policy caused a proposed film adaptation of Metroid to be scrapped, as well as the aforementioned Zelda fan film. However, beginning in late 2014, Nintendo might be relaxing this policy. Leaked emails stolen from Sony Pictures as part of a cyber attack against the studio revealed that the studio was in negotiations with Nintendo to acquire the film rights to Mario and adapt the franchise into an Animated Adaptation, with Spider-Man producer Avi Arad spearheading it. If the negotiations hold up, this would be the first time a Nintendo franchise outside the Pokémon series has ever been adapted into a film since the live-action Mario film of 1993.
    • This even applies to porn parodies: Nintendo bought the rights to the two Super Hornio Brothers movies to ensure they'd never be re-released. Copies of the two movies are therefore very rare.
  • In a similar vein, Sega followed Nintendo's footsteps after the failure of the film adaptation of House of the Dead. Like the Nintendo example above, the anime Sonic X and the Sonic Boom tie-in television series averted this because of the shows being commissioned by Seganote , and not being licensed. However, a decade later, they decided to make another go, first by selling the film rights for Sonic the Hedgehog to Sony Picturesnote , and then announcing six months later that they intend to bring many of their franchises to television, film, and digital streaming.
  • If rumors are to be believed, the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph could have cameos of Sonic the Hedgehog characters written out as the hedgehog's film rights are with Sony, and Disney is apparently unwilling to pay additional legal fees to secure their likenesses.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Australian version of the game show "It's a Knockout" was axed after three seasons, not due to low ratings but because of noise complaints from residents living near the sports ground where the show was taped. Due to lack of a suitable venue in Australia and insurance reasons, the IAK revival series was shot in Malaysia.
  • The Charmings got complaints by the Disney Company when ABC was run by Capital Cities, since it was an unauthorized parody of Snow White. It's unclear whether this or low ratings ultimately led to its cancellation, however, but Disney does now own ABC, opening up the possibility of a DVD release, though the heavy discouragement of press comparisons with the later Once Upon a Time by the network suggests that it considers it a Dork Age program.
    • It should be noted that ABC never owned the rights to The Charmings. Sony currently owns the program, a chance of a DVD release seems moot.
  • In 2003, ESPN aired a series called Playmakers which was a depiction of the behind-the-scenes actions of players of a fictional pro football team (in a fictional league). However, the NFL, who was in the midst of a new lucrative deal with ESPN, were not pleased with the stark, unflattering look at the world of pro football, and pressured the network to scuttle the show after one season, which they obliged. Several pro players like Warren Sapp praised the show for its realistic (to a point) depiction of football players and their shortcomings in the world, and criticized both the league and the network for trying to scrub anything negative about the sport. Later on the Playmakers name was used to market a line of cheap footballs and basketballs with ESPN branding.
  • Another, uglier version with ESPN was played out when the NFL allegedly stepped in and told them to no longer market with PBS, or have their reporters contribute to the Frontline documentary League of Denial involving concussions and brain damage among players in the league. The writers of the tie-in book work for ESPN and continued to work with Frontline independently, though without the Worldwide Leader's backing.
  • This trope didn't kill The Film Crew outright (via Jim Mallon threatening to pull the MST3K license from Rhino Entertainment if they worked with the project), but it definitely made things more difficult; Nelson, Murphy, and Corbett eventually moved on to RiffTrax, which was much easier to produce.
    • Jim Mallon explained that the reason he didn't want Rhino producing The Film Crew, was they'd be spending money on b-movies for The Film Crew, when they could be using whatever money they had for b-movies shown on MST3K (MST3K only secured temporary rights to their movies while the show was on the air, and the rights have to be re-negotiated for DVDs. It's not easy, or cheap).
    • RiffTrax itself is essentially immune to this trope due to a variation of style, however: they don't release the movies in any form, they merely release tracks of the cast talking about the movies. Obviously, the original copyright holders don't have any claim over things people choose to say about their films. (There are some movies available as pre-synced tracks, but they fall into two categories: either films that are public domain [primarily shorts — one source for them are public domain archives], and B-movies that they can afford to buy the rights to.)
    • Speaking of MST3K, this got hit with the Volume 10 release of DVDs. One of them was Godzilla vs. Megalon and had been available for a short while. Then, Toho stepped in and said "no". A Volume 10.2 was soon released with a special Host Segment created to show why the movie wasn't included.
    • Until recently, Shout! Factory couldn't release the episode featuring Pumaman because no one knew who to contact. It wasn't until late 2013 that they somehow did and the episode was released.
  • Licensing and rights issues have prevented the home video release of many TV series over the years. Most notable examples include The Six Million Dollar Man and the original The Bionic Woman, which were withheld from North American VHS or DVD video release for close to 30 years before a breakthrough was reached that will allow their release starting in late 2010. The 1960's Batman series reportedly had such complex licensing that the general assumption was that it would simply never be legally released in a home video format until it entered public domain near the end of the 21st century, that is, until it was announced that it would indeed gain a DVD release in November 2014. The 1996 Doctor Who TV movie was thought to be permanently unavailable outside the British Commonwealth due to this; the warring rights-holders decided to bury the hatchet and a worldwide DVD release came in February 2011.
  • When future generations turn to DVD/digital recordings of today's TV series, many of these shows will be lost in their original versions due to music and sometimes entire scenes being changed due to licensing and clearance issues. Examples include: the theme song for Married... with Children being replaced on the DVD releases; a scene involving The Beatles being deleted from the VHS release of the Doctor Who story "The Chase" (it's in the Region 2 DVD); most pop music from season 1 of WKRP in Cincinnati being replaced with generic music for the DVD release.
    • The deletion of the clip from "The Chase" is particularly egregious, as that clip is the only surviving portion of The Beatles' performance at Albert Hall (which was wiped from BBC archives for the same reason a lot of early Doctor Who was as well) and survived only because it was incorporated into the episode. These deletions fit the trope as well, because it was done in large part because the contracts with the actors' union in the period prohibited broadcasting any television program more than twice (and the entirely incorrect view of the BBC management that black and white programming was unsellable overseas).
    • Most of MTV's shows have been severely affected by this due to an agreement with record companies for free promotional use of their songs on the channel. Because of this pop songs are used in show soundtracks, but the rights would need to be purchased for video release. Shows like Daria and The State languished for years before a similar version of the songs could replace the offending tracks.
    • Freaks and Geeks actually kept the original music for the DVD, paying all the necessary fees. This is why said DVD costs several times as much as DVDs for other shows.
    • Cold Case has yet to be released on DVD because they've been unable to secure rights to the licensed music used in the episodes. Many episodes used multiple songs from a particular artist, played over all the flashback sequences as well as the end montage. Because of this, it's impractical to replace or remove the music, but just as impractical to gain the rights because of all the different artists used in a given season.
  • The DVD releases of The Muppet Show have been repeatedly delayed due to issues with music rights. Several scenes had to be cut from the Season One set because the studio was unable to secure the rights to certain songs used in the show. Completely averted by Jim Henson's other major production, Fraggle Rock, as it used entirely original music.
    • This hits the Muppets often, for instance with re-releases of the full-length Christmas special A Muppet Family Christmas, where large chunks of the special have to be excised due to music rights, leading to a good deal of Keep Circulating the Tapes for those who find the special a celebrated part of their Christmas tradition.
  • The DVD release of WB's all-female superhero series Birds of Prey was held up for years (leading to an awful lot of Keep Circulating the Tapes needless to say) due to music rights issues; the fact that it was Screwed by the Network (cancelled in its first season despite good reviews and decent ratings, reportedly due to internal network politics) did not help. It was only after years of pleading from the fans that the series got a full release on DVD with a note on the packaging that "some" of the music has been changed for home video release.
  • Anyone trying to watch Quantum Leap on Netflix instant video will be unable to watch the whole series in it's entirety. Quite a handful of episodes are removed for legal reasons, most notably because of the music used in said episode. What's worse is that some of these episodes are omitted from the DVD release as well.
  • DVD release of The State was delayed for years due to music rights. The show first aired on MTV and had the rights to use any music then receiving play on the channel. However, the rights to each song had to be renegotiated for DVD release.
  • The lack of a Star Trek series following Star Trek: Enterprise. See here for more details.
  • Possibly a reason why episodes of Maury prior to September 1998 are no longer rerun or showcased. That bulk of the series is owned by CBS, while all episodes after that era have been produced by NBCUniversal. The relationship between the two has been so sour that not even Maury Povich himself has been able to get the two to make up and allow the episodes to be shown again.
  • Shout! Factory's failure to secure licenses may explain why twelve live-action segments from The Super Mario Bros. Super Show went missing from their DVD sets. At least three of them managed to be streamed online, but there's still no word on whether or not the other nine segments will ever see the light of day again.

    Music 
  • Redd Kross bassist Steven Shane McDonald added a bass track to the entirety of The White Stripes' 2001 album White Blood Cells, then put MP3s of the whole project (entitled Redd Blood Cells) online. Later on, after some kind of "arrangement," only the first track remains online.
  • George Jones's 1989 single "The King Is Gone (And So Are You)" was pulled as a single because it contained the phrase "yabba-dabba-doo" and thus became the subject of a lawsuit from Hanna-Barbera.
  • Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"... grab some food, this is gonna take a while. Initially, Thicke and co-writers/co-performers Pharrell Williams and Clifford "T.I." Harris sued the family of the late singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye for alleging that "Blurred Lines" had infringed on the copyright of "Got to Give It Up." Thicke and Williams both claimed to the public that while the song was indeed an influence in writing "Blurred Lines," it did not copy the song outright and that it only replicated the groove and feel of it.
    The song was allegedly written at the recording studio in less than an hour. However, a year later, Thicke admitted in a deposition released by The Hollywood Reporter that he had never actually had any part in the song's composition, citing high drug and alcohol influence at the time and that Williams penned the song entirely. Ultimately, the Gaye family countersued the two artists for copyright infringement. T.I., meanwhile, was vindicated when he testified that he recorded his vocals after Thicke and Williams, and that he played no part in songwriting despite being credited for it. On March 10, 2015, the Gaye family won the suit, and both Thicke and Williams were ordered to pay $7.4 million in damages to the family.
  • The original packaging for Weezer's "Buddy Holly" single was a childhood photo of Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo with an unidentified woman sitting next to him. When the band realized her likeness was being used without permission, the original packaging was recalled and replaced with another childhood photo of Cuomo with his brother, Leaves.
  • Incubus's debut album, Fungus Amongus, has not been reissued since 2000, and is not available in any digital outlet, due to both Old Shame from Incubus and legal conflicts between the band and Sony Music Entertainment.

    New Media 
  • The phrase "this video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by *insert name of company here*" has become a well known sight on YouTube, even with Team Four Star, who put a disclaimer at the beginning of every episode they post. The Warner Music Group has also been responsible for taking away music from videos, saying that it violates copyright. If a video gets blocked for copyright infringement, the user who posted that particular video would usually get a copyright strike and would be forced to watch the Happy Tree Friends video about copyright law and take a trivia question. If a user gets three strikes, their account will be banned and all of the user's videos will be removed from the site.
    Announcer: Even though YouTube is a free video sharing site, you can still get into serious trouble for copyright infringement. You could get sued, And you might lose your personal belongings. Even worse: You might lose your YouTube account. If the content owner claims it and does not want it on Youtube, The video will be blocked according to the Copyright law. You will be notify via Email and in your account status. And you will get a strike (Russell screams). If you get a third strike, you will be banned from YouTube. And all of your videos will be removed from the site.
    • Certain videos have managed to avoid this fate by claiming Fair Use.
    • YouTube has come under fire for the fact that they remove videos just because of an infringement claim without investigating whether the video is Fair Use or not. YouTube, and "Content Service Providers" in general, are required by law to pull without investigation as soon as they receive proper notice, or else they themselves can be Sued By The Lawyers. Uploaders can object to cases of "mistake or misidentification", in other words claiming that the copyright owner made a mistake when it failed to see that "it's legal Fair Use, damn it!"
    • One machinima short was completely blocked by WMG specifically because of one short song clip used in the beginning of the video.
    • Curiously, there is a pattern that tends to emerge with what gets pulled and what doesn't, even aside from some content owners being more stringent about it than others: TV shows and movies (especially current ones) are the strictest, along with popular music (unless the artists deliberately use online distribution as free advertising). Music from other sources, though, tends to be less strictly enforced. Rarest of all to be cut are video game clips; since you can't actually play the game on YouTube, each video game clip is basically a trailer the producers didn't have to pay for. Also, AMVs are, for whatever reason, often kept in the same way Fan Fic in general is rarely targeted, despite theoretically having two possible angry claimants.
    • But since anyone can make a copyright claim, they don't need any proof that you are the copyright holder, and since they don't investigate any claims, anyone who just doesn't like someone's video or even a bot can file a false claim. To dispute the claim, you must provide unnecessary personal information (your full name, phone number, physical address, email address), meaning most people who are the victim of a false copyright claim would just not bother disputing. Even though YouTube tells people not to file false claims and that repeated false claims could get the person in legal trouble, that doesn't stop people from filing false claims.
      • Viacom was possibly the worst offender, it was known to claim copyright claims to properties it didn't own, like Mass Effect playthroughs. They also claimed clips from Sesame Street that aired on Noggin, because they owned Noggin. And it had the Noggin logo on the bottom right. That is why a lot of Sesame Street uploaders such as Jonny T Bird 4789, Nantosuichoken, and many other users were terminated from Youtube.
      • Viacom has also become infamous for filing infringement claims against content uploaded by its own authorized agents. The fact that Viacom itself cannot reliably differentiate legally uploaded from illegally uploaded content contributed to the collapse of their suit against Google for YouTube content.
      • Warner Music Group (yes, them again) is another notable offender. They have made copyright claims to properties that they didn't own, like shows done by Walt Disney Television Animation (such as Disney's Marsupilami), and many Disney uploaders were banned from YouTube because of that. The same thing happened with Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego; they claimed they owned the theme song by Rockapella.
    • Capcom and some other video game companies are starting to remove playthroughs and walkthroughs of their games, especially more recent ones, from YouTube.
    • Nintendo is a bit of an odd case. They never really had any issue with LP's of their games, but in May 2013 they suddenly began claiming full monetization rights for videos that use their content. For Let's Play channels that primarily use Nintendo games, such as The Runaway Guys and the Game Grumps, this new policy effectively crippled their income.
    • Konami is very protective of Metal Gear Solid. Twice now they've threatened to sue (not simply have the videos taken down, sue) Machinima and Two Best Friends when the latter announced their intentions to do LP's for Metal Gear Solid 4 and Metal Gear Solid: Peacewalker. Ironically, they had no issue with the Best Friends' Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance LP.
    • Also works re: preventing YouTube videos from working outside of specific countries.
  • The above was what caused That Guy with the Glasses to start its own site and now many years later, when Allison Pregler and The Nostalgia Critic's reviews of The Room got pulled for this very reason, fans got pissed.
    • The Critic responded to the legal threats by posting a video that was basically an entire episode's worth of Take Thats against the individuals responsible.
    • Luckily, Doug Walker successfully defended the videos as Fair Use.
    • Ironically, when The Room review was pulled, it was possible to find it uploaded by other people on YouTube.
  • The Mysterious Mr. Enter was banned from Youtube due to copyright claim ether Viacom or Twentieth Century Fox. He was posting a review of the show. And it was under fair use. But those companies bypass the fair use disclaimer and shut down his account.
  • Many online scanlation sites (such as One Manga.com) have removed their archived scanlations because of attitude shifts from some publishers. In fact, quite a number of them have been shut down or censored due to publisher pressure.
    • Manga Fox is a good example. After a manga is licensed, they usually take down the hosted scanlation, leaving just the synopsis and forum discussions. Quite a few licensed manga are still up there to read, though.
  • Like many radio show hosts, Phil Hendrie allows website subscribers to download show episodes as podcasts. At some point, network lawyers decided that it was a copyright violation for podcasts to include music. This affected any skits that involved music, including his frequent parodies of Jim Rome's and Art Bell's shows that incorporated their respective "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Dancing Queen" theme songs, and his Running Gag of using the "Darth Vader Death March" as theme music for his fictional boss. The music in these cases was replaced by awkward silence, and if characters in Phil's comedy skits commented on the music, podcast listeners could not know what they were talking about.
  • Some flashes on Newgrounds are victims of this due to being based on copyrighted works, as Newgrounds has received cease-and-detest letters from companies such as The BBC (for a Teletubbies spoof called "Teletubby Fun Land", which has been eventually renamed to "Telebubby Fun Land"), The Jim Henson Company, and MGM (for a RoboCop flash tribute made by a fan).
  • Drum Corps International pulled several pre-2000 finals performances from its Fan Network due to copyright issues involving composers of works performed during those shows. Affected composers include Leonard Bernstein, Chick Corea, Ottorino Respighi, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and John Williams.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Garfield had a short run of Believe it, or don't gags until PAWS Inc. got a cease-and-desist letter from the Robert Ripley estate.

    Other 
  • Some years ago a British food company produced a brand of chips [fries] called Stringfellows, which had to be withdrawn when nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow objected to the name.
  • McDonald's' Corp. tried to force a Scottish fine dining establishment named McDonald's to close or change its name despite the latter being in business for over a century. The fast food chain lost the case. It helped that the Scottish restaurant was run by a high member of Clan McDonald.
    • McDonald's Corp. also attempted this in Malaysia, except that the dining establishment in question was a small Indian-Muslim restaurant whose only offense is that its name vaguely resembled McDonald's. The fast food chain lost that case, too.
    • One of the cases they did win was to convince a San Francisco coffeeshop to change its name from McCoffee, whose name was a pun on the name of the owner Elizabeth McCaughey, a good decade before they got into the coffee business themselves. These and many other examples can be found at The Other Wiki.
      • The reason that it's not particularly common to see parodies that use fast-food chains named "Mc-anything", or real-life businesses named "Mc-Anything", is because McDonald's has been so aggressive and successful at suing anybody who tries to, even when the business in question has nothing to do with food. Wal-Mart has taken on this role of late, going after all the "-Mart"s of the world. Though in both cases, this is largely because they can lose their valuable trademarks if they don't pursue every known possible infringement; the legal term is "Abandonment".
    • At least one famous case of McDonald's being clearly in the right was the early 1990's, was when they sued a South African businessman who was opening hundreds of fake McDonald's restaurants, complete with Big Macs.
  • The Bratz doll line was stopped in its tracks by a 2005 court case that found that the concept was created while its creator was still at Mattel, before making a comeback in 2010, although by that time, their popularity had waned (plus, the new dolls are a bit more conservative). This also had a more permanent knock-on effect for the Animated Series.
  • BIONICLE not only took certain character names from the Maori language, it apparently tried to trademark them so that it held the rights to words from Maori language. Due to threats of legal action from some Maori tribal groups, Lego changed tack and altered the spelling of the names. This is odd, since trademarks are contextual. For example, DC Comics has a trademark on The Flash, and that is a perfectly valid trademark, but that doesn't mean that they've trademarked the word flash and that you can't use it anywhere with any meaning. Most likely the Maori groups' complaint was not about the trademark itself.
  • Quakers, the religious group that is a Christian sect, once tried to sue Quaker Oats for using the name of the religion (established in the 1600's) and the image of a supposedly historical Quaker. However, due to the fact that the official name of the religion is the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers lost the lawsuit to the company.
  • Sony has in the past gone after restaurants called Soni's. Back in the late 80s, they forced the closure of an upscale Baltimore restaurant that had been in business for over 30 years.
  • Toho is extremely aggressive in protecting their Godzilla trademark, even going after anyone who uses a name ending in -zilla, such as a steak house using the name Steakzilla.
  • Hasbro and DreamWorks Animation had planned a merger in November 2014. The talks, however, were called off after only two days. Although a common reason was disagreement over CEO's Jeffrey Katzenberg's sale price, which analysts viewed to be more than the company's actual worth, others claim that the talks were called off when Disney, DreamWorks' rival, threatened to cancel their deals and contracts with Hasbro if the merger went forward.
  • Due to contractual obligations from original network founder and evangelist Pat Robertson, ABC Family is required to air The 700 Club every weekday, excluding most weekends except for telethons. ABC Family has done everything to ensure that the network's main demographic never watch it, deliberately placing it at the 11:00 PM death slot, posting a disclaimer ensuring viewers that the program doesn't reflect the views of the network and removing all of their branding while the show is being broadcast.
    • These obligations were also carried to the network's previous owner, News Corporation, when Robertson sold the network to the corporation in 1998 and renamed it from The Family Channel to Fox Family. The obligations is the whole reason the word "Family" remains in the network's name to this day. The fact that Robertson is capable of still dictating a network he no longer owns is quite baffling.
  • Ay, yi, yi, the screwing Marvel Comics is giving to just about every company nowadays. Website Bleeding Cool has been chronicling various companies who have been forced to stop doing anything related to the X-Men and the Fantastic Four. This has gone so far as to have t-shirts that boasted covers of Secret Wars having characters replaced and edited out. The big rumor towards this is that Marvel and Twentieth Century Fox are in a spat because Fox refuses to give back the rights to their movies (there's even more rumors that this is because of Disney buying out LucasArts, thus screwing them out of Star Wars. It's really petty.)

    Pinball 
  • Unlike other games in the series, Zen Studios' Spider-Man pinball is not available as downloadable content on some platforms' versions of Pinball FX or Zen Pinball. Instead, licensing disputes between Marvel Comics and Sony require the player to purchase a separate game, "Marvel Pinball", and get it there instead.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • ECW used popular rock, metal, punk, and hip-hop tracks for everything, from wrestler themes to show themes to video packages, to further their image as a hip, rebellious, underground promotion. Unfortunately, it was also a very cash-strapped promotion, which meant that said music had to be edited out of home video releases to avoid legal entanglements. Part of the reason the promotion commissioned and published the ECW Extreme Music and ECW Anarchy Rocks CDs was so that they could have less expensive cover versions by less well-known bands at their disposal instead.
  • The wrestling vampire Gangrel was used much less in WWE after White Wolf threatened to sue for infringement, as Gangrel was the name of one of the vampire clans in its Vampire: The Masquerade RPG. They settled for a 5-year agreement which White Wolf would be credited in any material in which Gangrel was used. White Wolf would eventually sue the WWE in 2008 after they used Gangrel in the Raw 15 Year Anniversary Battle Royal without credit.

    Rides 
  • Due to Universal's exclusive licensing contract with Marvel Comics a decade before Disney's acquisition of Marvel, Disney is not allowed to build any Marvel-themed attractions at Disney parks in Orlando and Japan, as Universal's theme parks in both areas contain Marvel-theming instead. That hasn't stopped Disney from finding legal loopholes from the deal, though.
    • Rumors circulating as of 2015 report that Universal is negotiating with Disney to end its exclusive Marvel contract in exchange for something. If the rumors are to be believed, Universal is reportedly planning to remove all Marvel-themed attractions from their parks and replace them with attractions themed after Nintendo franchises.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The owners of the Legend of the Five Rings card game were forced to change the art on the card backs because, according to the International Olympic Committee, it was too similar to the design of the Olympic rings. (For a Trading Card Game, changing the card backs is pretty much a death sentence for the value of any cards made pre-change.)
  • A popular game from Cheapass Games was "Before I Kill You, Mister Bond". (The premise was that villains don't just shoot the captured agent because he's worth more points if he's taunted a few times first.) It was pulled off the market after a cease-and-desist from MGM, and reissued as "Before I Kill You, Mister Spy". MGM didn't like that one either. Cheapass later re-released the game as "James Ernest's Totally Renamed Spy Game", and so far seems to have not garnered any attention from MGM again.
  • In the 1970's, Tactical Studies Rules Inc. narrowly avoided a lawsuit from Chaosium when they tried to incorporate the Cthulhu Mythos into the nascent Dungeons & Dragons. Chaosium, who had been sold the right to produce Lovecraft-related board games by copyright holder Arkham House, stipulated that TSR could keep the content if they credited Chaosium's "Call of Cthulhu" series. TSR backed down and removed the content instead.
    • A similar situation occurred with Elric material, Chaosium owning the rights and TSR publishing some content. It didn't help that Michael Moorcock failed to realize that two different companies were involved and approved TSR's publishing material he had licensed to Chaosium. The situation was resolved as with the Cthulhu material.
  • When BattleTech first debuted, it made liberal use of 'Mech designs licensed from various Japanese animes. Problem was that they weren't properly licensed, and Harmony Gold, the American distributor and owner of these designs, took issue with the 'Mechs. They are now called the Unseen.
    • Even worse, there is, officially no first edition of BattleTech at all. The first edition was actually a game called "BattleDroids". The word "droid" is a registered trademark of LucasFilm. Lucas' lawyers sent a letter to FASA, who took the opportunity to refine the game while renaming it.
  • The Pokémon trading card game: The franchise's owners were sued by self-proclaimed psychic Uri Gellar, who claimed they used his persona in a negative way as Kadabra. The company won, saying it didn't base Pokemon on people (although Hitmonlee and Hitmonchan and Wobbuffet may beg to differ, and, in all fairness, the Japanese name for the mon, "Yungerrer", and said mon's use of bending spoons to demonstrate psychic powers are clear references), but there still hasn't been a release since then of a Kadabra card in the game. Oddly, Abra and Alakazam do show up, even though (since older cards, including all printed Kadabra cards, are disallowed in tournaments) Alakazam can only be played nowadays with special cards allowing the playing of evolved Pokemon, or in the case of a few Japanese releases, as special variants that don't count as evolved at all.
    • Either way, one wonders why he would level his suit at the TCG instead of, you know, Game Freak - the developers of the Pokemon video game series, the core canon around which everything else in the franchise ultimately revolves. It's not as though Kadabra never existed in the video games and was made up solely for the TCG or something, so it would make more sense to aim for the source rather than derivative material.
  • When White Wolf released their sci-fi game Ćon, they ran afoul of MTV, who saw it as challenging their trademarks for Ćon Flux. WW settled things by renaming Ćon to Trinity; as a result, copies of the original corebook with the Ćon name are much sought after. The new edition gets around the issue by making the full title Trinity Continuum: Ćon, which is apparently different enough for the lawyers.

    Video Games 
  • Holy Invasion of Privacy Badman was forcibly renamed to What Did I Do To Deserve This My Lord after an angry letter from Warner Bros.
  • The Tetris Company absolutely adores this trope. They claim to have copyrights on basically every aspect of the game, even those which the US Supreme Court has ruled cannot be copyrighted (Lotus v. Borland), and they'll send C&D letters to anyone who so much as dares make a game with falling tetrominoes, or even just the song "Korobeiniki" (which is actually a Russian folk song, but often remembered as "the Tetris theme").
    • The Tetris Company being such hardasses are basically the reason the Tetris Grand Master series no longer exists.
    • Blockles was pulled after a lawsuit from The Tetris Company was settled out of court.
  • In the Groove stopped development after a lawsuit from Dance Dance Revolution publisher Konami was settled out of court. Similar lawsuits on Guitar Hero (at this point owned by Activation) and Rock Band were less successful.
  • This trope is commonly theorised to be the reason that the MOTHER trilogy has remained a case of No Export for You ever since the series' sole American release in 1995. Japan has looser copyright laws than America, and it's believed that Shigesato Itoi refuses to allow the myriad cultural Shout Outs, Suspiciously Similar Songs, and a certain Salvador Dali themed enemy to be changed for another international release, and Nintendo is unwilling to override his decisions. The rest of the world may not be the only ones affected by this — notably, it's still absent from the Japanese Virtual Console even though it was included as a Masterpiece in the Japanese version of Super Smash Bros. Brawl and explicitly named by Satoru Iwata when introducing the Virtual Console in 2005.
    • Earthbound would later get a genuine remastered release for the Wii U Virtual Console in July 2013, and some interviews around the time the VC release was announced indicated that the legal issues weren't a factor at all. The franchise notoriously suffered from mediocre sales (even in its native Japan), and Nintendo simply believed that the interest wasn't there, despite the series' extremely loyal cult following.
  • The fangame Streets of Rage Remake (which was in development for eight years) was yanked off of its website days after completion due to Sega wanting to protect their IP, despite the fact that Sega had (supposedly) given their blessing for the project on the condition that it was not sold for profit. Some theorized that it was because of the recent mobile phone port of Streets of Rage 2. Luckily, even though developer Bomber Games is legally unable to distribute it, that hasn't stopped fans from circulating the final version on the web anyway.
  • In light of the upcoming release of the Japan-exclusive Shining Ark, Sega has launched something of a crusade against anyone who has uploaded videos of older Shining Series games to YouTube and/or Nico Nico Douga, hitting many uploaders' accounts on both sides of the pond (including popular commentator TotalBiscuit) with DMCA notices and causing a number of uploaders to either pull their videos immediately or even see their accounts being shut down as a result.
  • Tales of Eternia was renamed Tales of Destiny II in North America to avoid copyright conflicts with the creators of He-Man, and is likely one of the reasons North American gamers didn't receive the real Tales of Destiny 2.
  • Most of the Super Robot Wars games, save for the Original Generations series, will most likely never be seen in the States since the American rights to the various mecha used are owned by far too many different companies. The biggest hurdle in this is Harmony Gold, who has been rabidly protective of the Anime/Robotech franchise and its components.
  • This is also the case for the Jump Super Stars games, where various Shonen Jump properties are owned by different companies. Sometimes, a different company can hold the manga rights, anime rights, and the merchandising rights, as is the case with Dragon Ball.
  • Having various companies own American and European rights to Tatsunoko series was overcome for Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, as Capcom went through the trouble (and money) to buy all of the rights for every series represented in the game and then some, with the exception of Hakushon Daimaou. This character was removed from the international version as the European copyright holder absolutely refused to sell the rights to Capcom.
    • While the original Japanese-only release of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes had character themes during battles, they were removed in Ultimate All-Stars. This was due to Capcom not being able to get the music rights for the Tatsunoko characters, as their themes were instrumental versions of their respective TV show theme songs. Instead, the stages were given original music themes.
  • The Quest for Glory series was originally named Hero's Quest, but Sierra On-Line had to change the name to avoid potential copyright issues with the makers of the tabletop game Hero Quest. The initial (EGA) release of the game did have that name, though.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2 managed to avoid the total Screwed by the Network suffered by Obsidian's previous game Knights of the Old Republic II. It got two full expansions and a premium module, but it was still fairly buggy when Hasbro/Wizards of the Coast sued Atari over license agreement violations. Continuing game updates after that was probably a low priority. It also resulted in the Steam version being pulled, though it has since been rereleased on GOG.com.
  • Don't expect the first Blood Omen to be rereleased on GOG.com any time soon, due to a spectacular case of Executive Meddling-induced legal bridge-burning between Silicon Knights and Crystal Dynamics (with Activision as an involved sideline third party), which is best left explained in details by NeoGAF user Mama Robotnik.
  • Speaking of Silicon Knights, you probably would want to hold on to your copies of Too Human and/or X-Men: Destiny if you bought them before Silicon Knights lost a lawsuit against Epic Games over the latter's Unreal Engine 3 technologyreason . Don't expect to see any fresh copies in any warehouses after 2012, as the court ordered Silicon Knights to eradicate all of the game code for and unsold copies of Too Human, Destiny, and all of their future unreleased projects.
  • A number of amateur game programmers were attempting to make an MMORPG based on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and had the game's servers running for about a month before Hasbro slapped them with a C&D letter. At first they thought it was a hoax from some troll, but closer inspection revealed that Hasbro indeed wanted them to stop. Presumably this was to avoid conflict with the Gameloft game Hasbro later released.
  • Thrill Kill was all but completed when its publishers shut it down over fears of parental-group lawsuits. It now exists in a number of pirated copies initially distributed by its irate programmers.
  • The Wii ports of the Humongous Entertainment games are noteworthy — Atari contracted Majesco to port some of the games, who then outsourced it to Mistic Software, who had the SCUMM SDK and every tool they needed to port the games without much hassle. So what did they choose to do? Completely ignore it, and just slap a ScummVM build onto it, which is a GPL licensed virtual machine that happens to be capable of playing Humongous games. Long story short, they failed to comply to the GPL, and the games had to be pulled. Admittedly though, a lot more people were mad at Mistic in this case than the lawyers.
  • The Amiga CD32 was never released in the U.S. due to a patent dispute, which was the final nail in Commodore's coffin.
  • The N.G.O. Superpower SPECTRE from the James Bond franchise had to be renamed OCTOPUS in 007: From Russia with Love due to a legal dispute between MGM/UA and screenwriter Kevin Mc Clory's estate over the film rights to Thunderball.
  • MechWarrior Living Legends was a fan-made (and officially licensed) total conversion Game Mod for Crysis Warhead, first released in late 2009. It offered combined-arms gameplay (infantry, tanks, aircraft, and battlemechs all fighting at once) unique to the franchise. A few months after the official new game, MechWarrior Online (a free-to-play game) was released in 2011, the Living Legends developers were forced to quit developing and disband after their final update (0.7.1) released in January 2013, as the developers of Online essentially yanked the Mechwarrior license away from the Living Legends development team. The official reasoning was that the Online developers "didn't want to double up their efforts" to compete with a free mod with a total playerbase of about a thousand players (about 1% of Online's) which was, embarrassingly, releasing new content at a faster rate. 0.7.1 was the developer's swan song, incorporating several new vehicles, a comprehensive balance pass, optimizations, and a series of What Could Have Been threads on the game's forum showing new features that didn't have enough time to be finalized.
    • The team (MekTek) developing the free release of Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries and its Expansion Pack / Game Mod "Mekpak" got caught up in the same legal scuffle - they, like Living Legends, had the rights to distribute the game (granted by Microsoft) - but when Online came out, their license mysteriously disappeared when Online's development team acquired the rights to the franchise. Unlike Living Legends which could continue to distribute their game, Mektek was required to remove all copies of the game from their website.
  • Golden Eye 1997: Much like the Batman show mentioned above, complex licensing issues have kept this game from seeing a rerelease despite its critical and commercial success. The rights, as of 2013, are in a confused mess between Nintendo (the original publisher) and Microsoft (owners of Rare, the original developer), and getting two bitter Console Wars arch-enemies to work together isn't easy. (Before 2013, Activision was also involved due to owning the James Bond game license at the time; currently, no other publisher has dared to pick the license up due to the financial bombing of Activision's 007 Legends) Then there's probably an issue with the image rights of the various actors and actresses whose likenesses appear in the game. Fans looking to play the game in its original form are just going to have to keep circulating those cartridges.
  • Kaiju Combat has the official name of "Colossal Kaiju Combat" due to copyright concerns from Kaijudo.
  • When Sonic the Hedgehog CD was released for iOS, Android, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3, it came with both Japanese/European and American music. However, the Japanese themes, You Can Do Anything and Cosmic Eternity - Believe In Yourself, had its lyrics removed. This is rumored to be due the estate of the late Casey Rankin being unable to allow them to use his contribution to the song.
  • The wonderful No One Lives Forever is not going to get any kind of rerelease in the foreseeable future, because nobody seems to know who holds the rights to it. The game was originally published by Fox Interactive, which was bought by Vivendi Universal which in turn was eventually acquired by Activision. However, according to Activision's lawyers, they do not currently possess the rights to the game. The developer Monolith isn't any wiser on the subject either.
  • Wonder why Pokémon doesn't get many Shout Outs in other Nintendo games that give Shout Outs to each other? It's because it's not completely Nintendo intellectual property. It's because one of the co-owners, The Pokémon Company, puts lots of checks and balances on their property to the point when Nintendo doesn't even want to bother outside of Super Smash Bros.. This is made glaringly obvious in games like Mario Kart 8 and Yoshi's Woolly World, where almost all amiibo are supported except the Pokémon ones. You know there's a rights problem when even third-parties SEGA and Namco Bandai give them rights to use their characters.
  • The reasoning for currently no other Star Trek TV series also hurts video games. For instance, Star Trek Online is not allowed at all to use anything from the new movies. It is actually set in the original timeline after the destruction of Romulus. They can reference Nero and Spock Prime (and Leonard Nimoy provides the narration), but a lot of their ships are expies of the Narada and the U.S.S. Vengeance.
  • In December 2013, Marvel, after having their licensing contracts with Activision expire, made Activision stop all digital and physical distribution of the Deadpool video game (only six months after release, even!) and all of their X-Men and non-movie Spider-Man gamesnote  and Capcom the same for the Marvel vs. Capcom series and its DLC, notably including Marvel vs. Capcom 3 DLC playable characters Jill Valentine (who's not a Marvel character) and Shuma-Gorath; since Capcom did not have the foresight to release those two on disc, their playable status in Tournament Play in now in jeopardy due to the Fighting Game Community's MO on non-universally available characters such as console exclusives and delisted DLC being to simply ban them in the name of match-up knowledge fairness.
  • Star Trek: 25th Anniversary had just a minor legal hurdle to overcome. The game featured the character Harry Mudd, including a close-up of his face for Enterprise viewscreen communications, which was of good likeness. At the time the game was made Paramount had a policy that whenever the physical likeness of a character from a Star Trek TV series was used in a licensed work, the original actor or their estate would have to give their consent. Unfortunately, the actor who played Harry Mudd passed away just as the game was ready to be released, and they had not secured his permission yet. Rather than delay the release of the game and wait for his inheritance to be settled and obtain permission from his estate, the developers simply changed the close-up into a shadowy silhouette of Mudd.
  • NBA Jam Extreme is noted for its surprise omission of Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O'Neal. This was because of contracts with those basketball players appearing in games from competing game studios, resulting in a conflict that could only be resolved by removing them from the game completely. Contractual obligations from the three acting in movies that year (Kazaam for O'Neal and Space Jam for Jordan and Barkley) might have also played a role.
    • Said rumor turned out to be true in Jordan's case, as he later appeared in Space Jam's tie-in game from both games' publisher Acclaim, using the same engine as Extreme.
    • Competitor Midway Games failed to dodge the same bullet Acclaim was hit with in their answer to Extreme, NBA Hangtime. In addition to the aforementioned players omitted from Extreme, Muggsy Bogues got written off of Hangtime's roster due to his contractual obligations appearing in Space Jamnote . However, three other players that appeared in the film (Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson and Shawn Bradley) were exempted from those obligations, and were allowed to appear in both Hangtime and Extreme.
  • The Tiny Toon Adventures video games from Konami. The games and their codes are owned by Konami, but Tiny Toon Adventures is owned by Warner Bros.. Because of this, it's unlikely we'll see these games in the Virtual Console service any time soon.
  • Disney has a bad habit with the above problem. To name a few:
    • None of Capcom's NES Disney games (including Mickey Mousecapadenote  and both Ducktales games) have been released on the Virtual Console service for Wii or Wii U.note  Additionally, while a "remastered" version of the first Ducktales game has been released, Capcom have stated the deal was just for this game only, and not the original version.
    • Sega's Illusion series starring Mickey Mouse has only seen one reissue: the original Castle of Illusion, which was released only for PlayStation 3 if PlayStation Network users pre-ordered the 2013 remake before its release. As for the other installments, they haven't been reissued at all.
    • Another Sega/Disney venture, Quackshot: Starring Donald Duck, hasn't been reissued at all, both Genesis and Saturn versions, on any other platform despite otherwise positive reception. The Genesis version received at least one reissue, being bundled with Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse in 1996 for a collection titled The Disney Collection for Genesis, but that was it. The Saturn version was released exclusively in Japan and was never reissued.
    • Sony Imagesoft's Mickey Mania, for Sega Genesis, Sega CD and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. While Disney is undoubtedly a factor in the latter three versions' inability to get re-released, the mere presence of a PS One port is the major obstacle keeping them from ever getting on the Virtual Console service. That later PlayStation port, titled Mickey's Wild Adventure, got released to the PlayStation Network....for Europe and Australia in 2012. Worse still, both Sony and developer Traveler's Tales (which is now owned by Disney rival Warner Bros.) stated that the deal was for that port only, and not the others.
  • The Game Boy game Q-Billion is probably never going to get a release on Virtual Console. Aruze had owned the Q-Billion copyright after it acquired Q-Billion developer Seta. After Seta shut down operations, Aruze neglected to renew the copyright, and thus, Aruze no longer legally owns the game and they're not sure who does.
  • The infamous Fallout legal dispute involving Interplay Entertainment and Bethesda led to Interplay's Fallout games being pulled from all online stores on January 1st, 2014, notably Steam and Good Old Games. Bethesda, who now owns the Fallout franchise and all installments as part of the legal settlement with Interplay, has stated they hope to bring the titles back to the stores, and did so in the case of Steam later that year. There's still no word if the games will return to GOG.com, however.
  • Love Nintendo's Popeye? Want to see it on the Virtual Console? Arcade or NES? Too bad, because King Features Syndicate/Hearst refuses to allow them to. To sum it up, King Features has for centuries been really touchy on their products when it comes to licensing, and usually it's a miracle when a deal is somehow reached to have a particular licensed King Features media reissuednote . Namco received a license from King Features and Nintendo to develop a mobile phone (not a smartphone) version of the game, but so far, that's it.
  • Ironically, Nintendo itself was found guilty of violating the copyright for the original arcade version of Donkey Kong, and therefore cannot sell the original game for its consoles — only ports and re-creations. To briefly summarize, the arcade game was written by a company named Ikegami Tsushinki on assignment, but the contract did not include ownership rights to the code. When Donkey Kong became a hit, Nintendo tried to make more boards themselves, and got sued for copyright violation as a result. A detailed article is available here.
  • On the subject of Donkey Kong, it's widely speculated (though never outright confirmed) that this is the reason it took so long for Donkey Kong 64 to see a Virtual Console release, as it featured Rareware's Jetpac as an Embedded Precursor. The rights to the Donkey Kong characters are owned by Nintendo, but Jetpac is owned by Microsoft. Simply dummying it out wasn't an option either, since it must be played through to obtain a collectible item that is required to complete the game.
  • Atari does not hold the rights to the post-1984 Atari arcade catalog from its former arcade division Atari Games, and as such, is unable to reissue any game from that division to other platforms. Instead, the rights to that catalog are owned by Warner Bros., whose parent company retained control of the arcade division of Atari, Inc. following its breakup from the console division, which later became known as Atari Corporation. Thus, unlike the pre-1984 arcade catalog and entire console archive retained by Atari, the Atari Games catalog is rarely reissued to other platforms, likely due to Warner's historical apathy on Atari. Making matters worse is that the games are reissued under the Midway Games bannernote , instead of Atari Games, due to Warner not wanting to pay for trademark fees to use the "Atari" name.
  • Atari sued to block the PC, Playstation 4 and Android versions of TxK, claiming that the game infringes on Tempest. Jeff Minter, the creator of the game, also created Tempest 2000. The decision has not been particularly well-received in the video game community. Atari is also trying to get the game removed from the Playstation Store and make Mintner sign an agreement that he will never make a Tempest-inspired game again.
  • Rare Rewind, a compilation due to be released for Xbox One commemorating Rare's 30th anniversary, is supposed to include dozens of Rare's most popular video games throughout its history. However, a handful of games were not allowed to be included. A few examples: Donkey Kong 64, all three Donkey Kong Country games, Golden Eye 1997, Diddy Kong Racing, Star Fox Adventures and Mickey's Speedway USA. The first seven are due to Nintendo, while the eighth is due to Disney.

    Web Comics 
  • This infamous Penny Arcade strip showing Strawberry Shortcake In the Style of... American Mc Gees Alice had to be taken off the site due to a cease and desist letter the creators got from American Greetings.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, the "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates" had to be changed (even in past strips) to the "The Seventy Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries" after receiving "the world's politest Cease and Desist letter" from FranklinCovey, the owners of the "Seven Habits..." trademark eight years after the fact. However, Howard Tayler claims he didn't mind seeing as he was looking for an excuse to change the name anyway so he could use the Maxims in The Merch.
  • Mike R. finally explained why Rusty and Co. spent several weeks down in December-January 2012-13. There was a danger of years-long lawsuit, but he and his attorney were able to prove that Rusty and most other elements are covered by OGL, public domain or parodies. Still, a few things did trespass Wizards of the Coast's product identity limitations. For example, Yuan-Tiffany the yuan-ti had to become Y.T. the lamia. His Kickstarter page still says "Rusty the Rust Monster - Plush Toy is the subject of an intellectual property dispute and currently unavailable. [...] Thanks for your patience." But the toys have already started shipping.

    Web Originals 
  • Channel101 had to cancel House Of Cosbys because of a cease and desist from Bill Cosby's attorney.
  • Moshi Monsters had to take down its character Lady Goo Goo and her music video "The Moshi Dance" and scrap the next planned music video "Peppy-razzi" after Lady Gaga's lawyers won a law suit against them claiming people would get confused and think the character was endorsed by her.
  • A few videos from That Guy with the Glasses were removed after direct threats by the rights holders: The Cinema Snob's review of Grizzly II (helps that the movie is unfinished), the Brows Held High episode on Crispin Glover's What Is It, and the only ones that got restored were the Obscurus Lupa and The Nostalgia Critic reviews of The Room (Doug Walker even retaliated by doing this).
  • The Keep Circulating the Tapes page has a section of its description detailing the perils of music rights. Apparently, trailers on YouTube are having the same problem.
  • Button's Adventures, another victim of Hasbro since it was based on a background character from the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic show. However, some assume it's less Button who was the problem but the usage of Sweetie Belle, who is a major character from the series.
    • Actually, Hasbro later confirmed on this that it was a third-party lawyer who had the series taken down, that they had no problem with any of the MLP characters used in fan properties that didn't damage the integrity (something that Buttons Adventures most certainly didn't) and not only had the persons responsible since been fired, but talks were in order with JanAnimations (the creator) for a form of compensation.....but the talks didn't seem to work out.
  • One early episode of Red vs. Blue had to have the music on the Warthog changed for the DVD release because Rooster Teeth couldn't figure out who owned the music of the original version.
  • Achievement Hunter had a number of their Let's Plays stopped, started and stopped again due to Nintendo's ever-changing stance in using their material for Let's Plays.
  • Even The Angry Video Game Nerd wasn't immune to this.
    • James Rolfe changed the original show title The Angry Nintendo Nerd to The Angry Video Game Nerd to avoid getting into trouble with Nintendo. He took this opportunity to make it a Meaningful Rename, though, and started reviewing games from other consoles along with the NES and SNES games he'd been reviewing up to that point.
    • Rolfe was asked by New Line Cinema to take down his movie review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III from YouTube and GameTrailers, not because they were offended by his review or anything, but because the film clips in the video were used without their permission. It was also omitted from the Volume 2 set for this reason. Therefore, only ScrewAttack and his company Cinemassacre's website host the review. Rumor has it that this event led to the proposed Angry Movie Nerd side series getting scrapped.
      • This also caused the removal of his reviews of Super Mario Bros. 3 (which featured clips from The Wizard) and the Sega Master System game adaptation of Rocky (which featured clips of said movie), due to angry letters from both NBCUniversal and MGM/UA, respectively, regarding the videos' use of movie clips, again without permission. Both episodes are back up, but at the request of the studios, all of the movie clips were removed. Ironically, the AVGN episode covering the Nintendo Entertainment System tie-in game of Back to the Future did not get into any legal wrangling despite using clips from said movie.

    Western Animation 
  • Disney's purchase of Marvel Comics put an end to Sony's production of The Spectacular Spider Man. (In general, Disney's trying to avoid screwing with existing licensing deals, but Sony gave up the TV rights to Spidey so they could keep the movie rights.) Greg Weisman explained the show's situation here; he even points out that the companies themselves weren't to blame, but that it was just bad corporate luck.
  • In a similar vein as the example above, 4Kids couldn't continue with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles adaptation after Nickelodeon acquired the TMNT franchise from Mirage Comics. Unlike the example above, however, 4Kids lost the rights to their adaptation to Nickelodeon as well.
  • This caused the demise of King Louie of The Jungle Book in all Disney media. The family of the late Louie Prima (who voiced Louie in the original movie) sued Disney because Jim Cummings, Jason Marsden and Cree Summer did too good a job impersonating Prima when he voiced the character in TaleSpin and Jungle Cubs. As a result, Louie was completely absent from Jungle Book 2 and replaced by an Expy named King Larry in House of Mouse.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head is now available on DVD without many of the music video commentary segments due to not being able to license that amount of music. Arguably, those segments were half the reason why the show was entertaining. Even the segments that were made available for the DVD releases (on separate discs from the episodes themselves) aren't available online.
  • Some lawsuits by the members of the class depicted in Mrs. Munger's Class (whose likenesses were used without permission) ended the segment's run on One Saturday Morning and shut the door on plans for an ABC primetime version of the cartoon.
  • King of the Hill's third DVD set was released a whole year after the second, and rumor has it that the delay was related to licensing issues for the music, explaining the third to sixth season box sets' lack of bonus features.
  • The US release of The Tick animated series is missing one episode each in the two seasons released so far; due to a prominent minor character bearing a strong similarity to a well-known celebrity, and Buena Vista not wanting to spend the money to secure the likeness rights. Buena Vista still hasn't released the third season; for reasons unknown. The UK region 2 release by Lace International has all three seasons complete and uncut.
  • The rights to Transformers: Robots in Disguise were sold to Disney as part of a Saban Entertainment package dealnote , thus making it unlikely to ever see a DVD release, since Disney couldn't care less about Transformers to rerelease it and Saban couldn't care less about Transformers to buy the show's rights back from Disney as they did with much of their live-action input.
  • Music rights were the reason behind the long wait for Daria on DVD; being a MTV produced show, they (ironically) used snippets of new music constantly, often using ten or more just one episode. Even just lasting seconds long, it led to a mind-boggling amount of rights to shuffle through. Eventually, they decided it was either clear all the rights, and pricing Daria out of the market altogether, or re-produce music that sounds good enough to pass for whatever mood they were going for.
  • Until very recently, there was a contractual requirement that neither Wonder Woman nor any of her supporting characters could appear in any video production in which she was not one of the main characters. This prevented her from even appearing until Justice League despite the best efforts of the studio to get a guest episode in Superman, and Wonder Girl was out of both Teen Titans and the first season of Young Justice.
    • At one point, this was so bad that she couldn't appear in other shows in the DCAU, including crossovers WITH A SHOW THAT SHE WAS ON. Thus, she was the only Justice League founding member to never appear on Static Shock.
  • The Anvilicious Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue was hit with this, though not as originally expected — for a long time, it was believed that the show was never re-aired because the producers never got permission from Jim Davis to use Garfield in the show, and he threatened litigation if it ever aired again. However, Mark Evanier (head writer of Garfield and Friends) has debunked the rumor, and explained that the original plan which got the copyright holders to cooperate specified limited airings.
  • Veggie Tales' creator Phil Vischer says in "The Wonderful Wizard of Ha's" commentary note  that they got in trouble with New Line Cinema after their release of "Lord of the Beans".
  • This is the major reason why the TV special Daffy Duck and Porky Pig Meet the Groovie Goolies may never get a home video release, since DreamWorks Animation and Warner Bros. are not too fond of each other when it comes to cooperating. The special is available on video sites such as YouTube, but are sourced from kinescope prints and thus are poor of quality.
  • Rugrats had an episode titled "Vacation" that was originally released on videocassette, then broadcast on TV before it mysteriously vanished, and failed to appear on any compilation DVDs note . Depending on who you ask, either Nickelodeon was unable to regain clearance to show the song "Vacation" by The Go-Go's in the opening scene, or it could be a particular scene where Siegfried & Roy look-alikes are attacked by their white tigers (especially when you consider that a similar, real-life event happened six years after it was originally shown).
  • Pingu has suffered this several times when the series was remastered.
    • Originally, "Pingu Looks After the Egg" featured the song "Woodpeckers from Space" from the Dutch group VideoKids. When the entire series was remastered, HiT Entertainment could not get clearance for the song to appear again. As a result, the music was replaced by an instrumental version of David Hasselhoff's "Pingu Dance", which was used as the theme song beginning with season 4 and replaced the original intro in the remastered versions of seasons 1 and 2.
    • Likewise, "Ice Hockey" had a version of "Hand in Hand", the official song for the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Again, HiT Entertainment could not get clearance for this song and replaced with a random orchestral score.
    • "Music Lessons", which introduced Pingu's grandfather, has a strange variation of this. Reportedly, the Pygos Group was sued by an unknown recording company after they discovered that Pygos did not get clearance to use the accordion music that Pingu's grandfather played while offering lessons to Pingu. Although it was released on VHS, the episode was briefly pulled for a while and not shown until it was remastered by HiT and the music was redone. The remastered version is the only version of the episode that is rerun or released on current home video releases.
  • Warner Bros. co-produced X-Men: Evolution and are responsible for home media distribution. Although the first three seasons are available on DVD in Region 1 (with the first two being released in the form of four volumes each season), the fourth season has yet to receive such treatment, since WB couldn't care less about X-Men to release it. Luckily for Americans, Marvel has released the entire series on iTunes, Hulu, YouTube and Google Play, so unless you live outside America, it doesn't really matter if Season 4 is on DVD or not.
  • MGM/UA's plans to release Popeye shorts on home video were put to a screeching halt by a cease-and-desist letter from King Features Syndicate, stating that MGM/UA had no rights to release Popeye material on home video. Even after Turner Entertainment acquired the Popeye cartoon catalog in 1986, it would take up to 2007 for an agreement to finally be reached to officially release the shorts on DVDnote .
    • Rumors began circulating that the legal issues flared up again after the home media releases were suspended after Volume 3 (which featured Popeye cartoons from the early 1940s) was released. Cartoon historian Jerry Beck later clarified that it was due to the prohibitive cost of having to restore more cartoons, and less to do with legal disputes.
  • When Nintendo licensed the Super Mario Bros. for animated television, they slipped in a contractual requirement that Bowser be referred to as "King Koopa" and never mention his real name in the series. This caused confusion to some people that somehow King Koopa was either a relative to Bowser, or a completely different character with no relationship to Bowser whatsoever. This even applied to other media, including the Live-Action Adaptation movie. One can only wonder if this obligation carries on to Sony Pictures' rumored Animated Adaptation in the works.
    • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 somewhat averted this rule. Nintendo did allow the staff to make the character say his real name in several episodes, but only if he said his full name in the processnote .


Alternative Title(s):

Cease And Desist