"Dear Paper Pen, the piece entitled 'Daring Do and the Tower of the Lich King' has been found to infringe on the copyright of A.K. Yearling. Please cease and desist or legal action will be pursued. Signed, A.K. Yearling" Pen read aloud from a letter in his hooves, the influence of anger and cider affecting his voice, "What in the name of Celestia gives her the right to say what I can and can't write about?!"
Pen's eyes were baggy and bloodshot, clearly he hadn't slept for at least a day and it was quite obvious he wasn't coping well with the legal threat.
"I mean that sucks, sure, but it's not like you can do anything about it" Canvas boredly pointed out. She really didn't care about the situation and had only come over to borrow an egg before being dragged into his personal drama.
"Buck that, I'm not afraid of being sued!" Pen said in a matter of fact way.
"You, the stallion who's two months behind on rent and living off ramen, you're not afraid of being sued by one of Equestria's most popular authors?" Canvas questioned with disbelief, "you can't afford a lawyer, Pen, and she has a whole team of them on standby"
"Who said anything about a lawyer?" Pen took a swig from his flask, "I can fight my own battles!"
"Well you are pretty good with Equestrian law on the off chance you're sober, buck, I'd even bet bits you'll last at least a half hour before getting laughed out of court."
"Is that, like, an actual bet or…?" Pen questioned.
Canvas simply sighed in response, shaking her head at Pen.
"What?" Pen scoffed.
A week passed by and, through defiance, Pen continued to sell his story with little success. Even if only three more copies had sold they were to him, and A.K. Yearling's lawyers, as important as if they were three hundred copies.
It was a rainy evening when three hard knocks rung upon Pen's door.
"Buck…" Pen said under his breath as he begrudgingly stood up from his couch and trotted to his front door.
Before even opening the door he looked through the peephole to find, much to his horror, two stallions in suits. Very rarely was this a good sign for Pen, some years ago before Pen had even moved in Nightwatch, his neighbor, had used Pen's apartment as his address on shady loans and even to this day ponies still show up looking for money they'll probably never see again. Failing a loan shark, it was usually his landlord also looking for money she'd probably never see. Against his better judgement Pen opened the door to greet the two.
"What do you want?" Pen cautiously questioned.
"Good afternoon Mr. Pen, we represent A.K. Yearling-" one began.
"Mr. Pen? Oh…" Pen feigned glum sadness, "Yes, Paper Pen used to live here… I'm his brother, actually, I just figured I'd get to work on clearing out his place before the funeral…"
"Paper Pen is deceased?" The suited stallion asked.
"Yeah, yeah, it's always a real tragedy when somepony so brilliant passes, but now all we can do is hope he's in a better place and watch his underappreciated works finally get recognition… it's what he would have wanted." Pen lied.
"Well, we're very sorry for your loss… I'll forward that information to A.K. Yearling right away." the speaking suited stallion spoke sympathetically.
To Pen's relief the stallions began to walk away but as they were nearing the staircase at the end of Pen's hall a certain grey mail-mare fluttered up to Pen's door with a package.
"Here's the paper ya' ordered Pen!" Ditzy Doo loudly said as she dropped a heavy package, and it's label bearing his name, in front of the unicorns door. The suited stallions, hearing this, turned around and began to trot back over towards Pen.
"Not a good time, Muffins-" Pen interjected as he tried, yet failed, to lift the box and bring it into his apartment.
"What's not a good time, Paper Pen?" Ditzy Doo looked to her clipboard, "It says right here, 'Paper Pen, deliver between the hours of seven to ten', would you like that changed?"
"No, that's fine, just- agh- take this package away, quick, please."
"Are you sure?" Ditzy asked puzzled, "we have to destroy unwanted mail!" She seemed dismayed by the reality of having destroy a perfectly fine package.
"Sure, yeah, burn it, banish it to the moon, just get it off my doorstep." Pen spoke, highly distressed.
"Wait, so do you want it burned or sent to the moon?" Ditzy asked confused.
"Mr. Pen, we need to speak with you." The suited stallion, now well annoyed, spoke.
The three ponies trotted into Pen's apartment, the two lawyers taking a seat upon the couch and Pen, lacking any other furniture, awkwardly sitting on his coffee table. Pen's mind was racing with ideas on how to avoid the inevitable lawsuit that would come from this meeting all while cursing his former belief that that nothing would come of inaction.
"If you're planning on suing me for everything I have you should know you're sitting on my most valuable possession." Pen began, pointing a hoof to the couch.
"Well, before we move into any of that I figured it would be best to reason with you face to face" the stallion who hadn't yet spoken finally said. His voice was lighter than that of a stallion, really it was more befitting of a mare which, when he finally removed his hat and sunglasses, began to make much more sense.
"By the moon, you're A.K. Yearling!" Pen exclaimed, starstruck even if said star was threatening legal action against him.
"Yes, yes, I know it may seem extravagant but when you're as well known as me-" A.K. Yearling began.
"Yeah, you totally would've gotten mugged." Pen interjected.
"What? No, I was going to say ponies always swarm me for autographs"
"Yeah, no, this is the bad part of Manehattan, you would've gotten mugged." Pen said bluntly.
"Lovely…" Yearling sighed, "Anyways, getting to the reason me and my lawyer are here, my legal team noticed that even after receiving a cease and desist letter you continued to sell your copyright infringing book, now, I understand a letter is a bit impersonal so I figured meeting face to face might be more effective."
"Yeah…" Pen began, "I got your letter, right, I just sorta figured it was one of those things I could just ignore and it would go away." Pen admitted.
"So the urgent stamp, the red writing, none of that meant anything to you?" Yearling questioned.
"Not particularly, I guess… maybe- not important, what matters is how wildly unfair it is that you, somepony with thousands of bits and a media empire, would tell me of all ponies to stop what I'm doing!" Pen ranted.
"I need to protect my brand, Pen, I'm sure you understand" Yearling reasoned, "if everypony was able to do whatever they wanted with my creation then I, the pony who created it in the first place, wouldn't be able to benefit from my own intellectual property."
"But I didn't rip off your creation, I'm not selling word for word copies of your books, I'm working off of your idea to create something new!" Pen argued.
"It's my idea though, Pen, you may not think you're hurting my brand by using my ideas but even a fan-work like this gives me less control over my own brand," Yearling explained, "how would you feel if somepony wrote a story with your ideas without your permission?"
"I'd be ecstatic somepony actually read my stuff!" Pen exclaimed, "besides, your style is your brand, nopony writes the same way you do, anypony can tell you from another writer!"
Yearling sighed and looked around the apartment. It was a mess, of course, the air was on a constant brink of staleness, papers were strewn across the floor like a carpet of scrapped concepts, and upon one shelf empty bottles of cider stood proud as trophies. It was different than her usual surroundings yet far from alien, really it closely reminded her of the place that she, as a young and struggling author, wrote her first novel.
"It's not about style, Pen, it's not even about writing or art, it's about business," Yearling continued, "I read 'Daring Do and the Tower of the Lich King' and it was good, you're a very talented writer and I could tell it was a product of genuine admiration for my writing, in a perfect world I'd love to just let you sell your book and carry on!"
"Then why can't you?" Pen pleaded, frustrated.
"Because if I let you do this it makes it harder for me to keep a hold on my brand and ponies with 'less than noble' intentions are going to run me out of business for a cheap bit," Yearling spoke with patience but clearly began to tire from having to explain basic business theory to this random unicorn, "you'll understand once you're in the industry."
"But I don't care about my brand or the industry, I just want to write, why is business part of art all of the sudden?!" Pen vented a combination of confusion and anger at the seemingly over-complicated concept.
It was respectable as it was annoying and foalish to Yearling that Pen, even in the face of a lawsuit for more bits than he had to his name, wouldn't see writing as anything past the artform. He really did remind her of herself years ago in a time un-jaded by deadlines, business dealings, or any actual success in the industry of authorship. Even then she agreed with Pen more than she let on and she'd be lying if she said this whole ordeal didn't make her feel at least a little bit like an antagonist.
"Like it or not Pen, I have ponies that rely on my brand for a paycheck, you're going to have to stop selling your book," Yearling regretfully informed, "Again, I really wish it didn't have to be like this"
"Ugh… fine..." Pen groaned in defeat, "Guess I wasted a lot of time then…"
"If it's any consolation, I really do think you're a good writer!" Yearling spoke earnestly.
"Thanks…" Pen smirked, "that means a lot, I guess."
The two ponies shared a friendly glance before Yearling donned her lawyer-esque disguise.
"Well, me and my associate better get going, have a nice night and, y'know, no hard feelings!" Yearling bid goodbye.
"Yeah, about that… this time of night is like prime time for mugging so you probably shouldn't go out until, like, a couple of hours from now." Pen warned.
"Oh- would you mind if we stayed her until then-"
"Yeah, no…" Pen nervously rubbed the back of his own neck, "Could you leave, actually, please?"