Okay, so, here's what I think happened.
First, I got you pregnant. That part went fine. As you know, the foetus is provisionally named Dot, with an actual name to follow when they are bigger than a dot. Then, we decided to sequence Dot's DNA, which is an additional service we were able to pay for our healthcare provider to carry out. A sample of Dot's DNA was taken and then sent to a third party for analysis. On paper this is a thing which prospective parents can do to detect likely genetic defects ahead of time, something which carries enormous ethical concerns and weight. However, that is not at all where this is going. That is not why we've had this letter.
It looks like somewhere down the line the DNA analysis company, ZenSpiral, changed their terms and conditions to say that they would not do what you and I were assured they would do, which was to discard the actual genetic data once they had performed their analysis. It looks like they kept it. It also looks as if, somewhere later down the line, they modified their terms and conditions again to allow themselves to — anonymously — share the harvested data with third parties. And by third parties I mean "literally anybody who pays them".
Yeah, I started a miniature company of my own as a test. I can just licence that data right back. To just licence one specific sequence, it's pennies. If I put in a search string from Dot's DNA I can find Dot's whole sequence here.
...Yes, you're right, this letter isn't from ZenSpiral. It's from Disney's lawyers. I'm sorry, this explanation is going to take a while to work up to.
So it looks like what happened then is that Disney sued ZenSpiral for copyright infringement. The letter doesn't make it massively clear what the lawsuit was relating to, but if I'm reading this correctly, and I'm not a lawyer, it looks like it's to do with some of the data which ZenSpiral was selling. I think some of the data being sold by ZenSpiral turned out, completely by coincidence arising from the sheer size of a DNA sequence, to match up with some of the data in the most recent 3D 8K ultra-high-definition release of the most recent Avengers movie. I'm saying, part of the DNA turned out to be identical to the video file.
Um. Yes. Disney asserted ownership of Dot's DNA sequence and demanded to receive all the licencing fees instead of ZenSpiral. That is how I, too, interpret the situation. Disney owned Dot. Well, not Dot, their DNA. But, arguably, yes, Dot. If Dot ever had children, Disney would potentially own a partial stake in those children, also.
Yes, this situation was obviously absurd, so it looks to me as if ZenSpiral did the logical thing and got their own lawyers into gear and appealed, because despite the coincidence they are clearly just licencing DNA. They are providing a service where gigabytes-long DNA streams can be downloaded freely for pennies, that's "all".
So, with that settled, it looks like a few weeks passed and then Disney sued again, this time with slightly angrier language. It looks like it was nothing to do with Dot specifically, there was no copyright claim against Dot's DNA. It looks like what was actually happening is that someone inside ZenSpiral was secretly encoding chunks of actual 8K Disney movies into their licenced DNA. The company was, in fact, operating as a highly deniable secret illegal movie distributor. For example, the DNA of this person here? That's just Mighty Avengers. That one? Frozen III.
Yes, I know, for marketing and search engine optimisation purposes, the movie is Frozen 3, but the title of the film is Frozen III. Weird, right?
Okay, so then I read a little further, and it turns out that all of that had nothing to do with ZenSpiral and it was a completely different company which was not in fact a DNA sequencing company. That company was litigated into oblivion four years ago. It was a great little scam and honestly I would call it substantially more ethical than actually distributing real people's sequenced DNA. I guess this whole story was only part of this letter to provide necessary context or something?
Oh wait. I think... no, this actually was a real DNA sequencing company. And the DNA sequences they were licencing out were real DNA sequences. Except that... it looks like, the company had begun paying real humans to intentionally splice their own DNA so that the DNA contained incredibly long sequences of dummy data which wasn't actually coding for anything and so wouldn't modify their own biology, but... the dummy data contained a full copy of Mighty Avengers. And so, the distributed data was a real DNA sequence and the sequencing company's hands were clean. They had vaguely plausible deniability.
Wow, I bet there's just a bajillion jokes in that basic concept, huh?
So I think what happened next was that Disney went after the DNA splicing company which it claimed was illegally distributing copies of their movies by splicing them into people's DNA. And that... uh, wow, this is quite a string of lawsuits going on here. The splicing company claimed to be performing the DNA splices as a blind service and had no clue what the data they were splicing represented, which... Disney claimed was obvious nonsense. So they sued them to atoms. And also sued as many of the splice recipients as they could find, who I guess had been paid a comically tiny amount of money each in the first place.
Huh... it says here that one of the people with Mighty Avengers spliced into their DNA had a kid with one of the people with Frozen III spliced into their DNA, and the kid's DNA contains an amazing mashup of the two films? And Disney is suing the kid because the kid's DNA is a derivative work which they own? Oh... wait. No, that's not happening. I thought that sounded a little out there. This thing on YouTube was just a fan edit. It did get taken down though. Because Disney sued the creator.
You never did that, right? No. Me neither. Anyway, if I was going to be a movie it would be Casablanca, you know that.
Erm, so, where are we? No closer. So anyway, then it looks like Disney sued ZenSpiral. No, I'm not stuck in some kind of loop. That's what it says happened next. I think. They sued ZenSpiral for copyright infringement due to one of the DNA sequences they were licencing. And this time it wasn't binary data for some video file. I think... uh, so, again, ZenSpiral told them to naff off and explained that they were just licencing real DNA. Which is why Disney are now coming directly to us.
So, as far as I can tell, they have run some kind of advanced predictive extrapolation on Dot's DNA and they have determined that when Dot reaches adulthood, Dot is going to look exactly like the Disney actor, Tom Holland.
At this point you're probably curious what, exactly they're suing us for? It looks like, baby photos. I don't think they're actually suing us, they're just warning us in advance that any photos or videos of Dot are likely to receive copyright infringement strikes and will either be taken down, or Disney will be monetising them instead of us. They reserve the right to stitch pictures of our beloved child together to make brand new "young Spider-Man" adventure films. They also say that they're going to need paying if Dot participates in any school plays. They say our child infringes on the unique appearance of their "child".
I guess there's some precedent for this. Remember that fan film which got taken down for being too accurate? And that other fan film which got taken down because the main actor's vocal impersonation of Robert Downey Jr. saying "I am Iron Man" was so similar to the actual actor saying it that they got an automated flag? And that other film which got taken down because it was totally unrelated to anything but it featured, and tagged, frozen vegetables, which I guess fall under the Frozen umbrella?
It looks like this letter was sent completely automatically.
I wonder what'll happen if it turns out Dot is twins? Do they infringe on each other?
What in the world are we going to do about this?
Well, we had the foresight to copyright Dot's DNA before sending it to ZenSpiral. With the intention of transferring that ownership to Dot once they're of age. So, to begin with, we can sue ZenSpiral for illegally distributing our content...