It is no secret that last year, a file full of DHX animation assets was leaked to the internet at large. In it, were the character rigs and puppets and other art assets used in the episode Wonderbolt Academy. In the year since its posting, the files have spread far and wide across the internet with hundreds, potentially thousands of copies. Many animators in the fandom have used these assets to their advantage, creating animations that resemble the show almost identically.
This advantage however, may spell the downfall of the entire fandom animation world as we know it.
Over the last year, ever since the leak, the fandom has seen a boom in show-accurate animation projects. Along with that boom in creation, has also followed a wave of Cease and Desist orders handed down from on high in unprecedented numbers.
The reason for this, as many would guess is due to copyright claims, but what many have come to believe (not incorrectly) that many of these claims have to do with how true to the show they are. This, is because of the leaked assets.
Before we go any further, HN is not saying that every show-accurate animation uses the pirated assets. This is a case where a few bad apples spoil the bunch. There are numerous examples in recent memory where popular animations that appear show-accurate have been wiped out, and this situation is more than partially responsible for triggering that.
Hasbro and DHX, are aware of the leak taking place, and also have very-quick, very-accurate, and very-effective methods to determine whether leaked assets are being used in partial or in whole. They have people hunting them down now. They are wielding C&D's like a broadsword prepared to cut down any project that raises too many red flags, and for repeat offenders, could result in direct legal action.
We aren't talking about nasty emails anymore. We're talking about the potential of court-orders, and more. We're talking about artists being banned from working in the MLP:FIM IP ever again.
This isn't even about drama anymore, it's about the survival of the fandom and the art scene as a whole.
Animators, and anyone who is working on projects that appear show-accurate, or may be utilizing the pirated assets, this is your warning. Hasbro is out there and they are not playing with kid gloves anymore. Back-alley brass-knuckles is becoming a closer reality. The consequences, if this continues, may have a cascading effect on the fandom, from which it may not recover.
Note that original animation styles and intentionally non-accurate animations are going largely untouched in the C&D hailstorm - this is a hint to artists everywhere.
Now, this is where the line is. If animators stop using the assets and making animations that are too show-accurate, Hasbro and DHX should back off in time, as hunting down the animations will not be worth their time. But if they don't, this could force Hasbro to start cracking down harder, and on more than just animations, but on fan-art as a whole. You can see where the slope goes, and the bottom isn't pretty.
While we at Horse-News never find it necessary to justify our actions, we would like to point out to those still reading that we have been particularly harsh towards certain animators in the past, and more amiable towards others. A common thread among our more critical posts has been the valid threat of stolen asset usage.
The animation staff tend also to feel greatly disrespected by fan animators pirating their work.
So, if you see an animator who you suspect of using the pirated DHX assets, keep this in mind.
The future is in your hands.