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Universal bites the Browncoats that feed them :( - Nothing to See Here

Oct. 24th, 2006

04:13 pm - Universal bites the Browncoats that feed them :(

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The following is a copy of an e-mail I sent to various Browncoat lists in response to the fact that Universal has apparently started sending nasty letters to creators/purveyors of fan-produced merchandise:

Alas, I suspect they can make any demands they like. The demands may just not have any legal standing. If the target of the demands acquiesces, they win. If they fight back, likely most demands will be unenforceable.

I'm really frakking angry about and disgusted by this.

11th Hour has given so much of herself to Firefly and Serenity, and has done so much to help market Universal and Fox's products. It is *sickening* to see these vile thug-like strong-arm tactics being used against her by a company which ought to be really grateful to her for all she has done.

Sending her a Cease & Decist would have been distasteful and kind of obnoxious, but especially if worded in such a way that she could tweak things a little and continue as she has been ... I suppose could be justifiable protection of their intellectual property. Sending her a Cease & Decist AND ordering her to close her store entirely AND ordering her to pay licensing for the past AND ordering her to pay damages is BEYOND disgusting. It is evil and morally reprehensible and disgusting thug-like behaviour. I am SO disgusted with Universal right now. It makes me sick.

I'd assume Fox had a hand in telling Universal to crack down on transgressions except that even Fox's lawyers haven't been CLOSE to this obnoxious. :(

This is even more obnoxious given how Universal has kind of implied in the past that they have a don't ask don't tell policy on such things, and has even provided fans with logos and stuff precisely for the purpose of making t-shirts for guerilla marketing purposes and has even encouraged fans to / rewarded fans for creating such guerilla marketing stuff (e.g. they gave fans a PDF with a fairly high quality Serenity logo in it, encouraged them to make t-shirts from it, and rewarded them with points [redeemable for merchandise] for doing so and submitting photos of themselves wearing said t-shirts).

I suspect a case of left hand not knowing what right hand is doing. OTOH, I don't know whether they can really make legal demands and then say "oops" and retract them. :/

I love a lot of what Universal has done for us fans, and I assume that the majority of the corporation rocks, and this is just some small part of it really sucking, but ... ouch. This leaves a really bitter taste in my mouth.

Comments:

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From:brianrubin
Date:October 24th, 2006 11:46 pm (UTC)
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I totally agree with you. This whole situation sickens and saddens me.
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From:maeglin73
Date:October 24th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
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One wonders if the *AAs have an army of lawyers that just have a list of property names to go from periodically, and someone just "forgot" to scratch off Serenity (oops, I said it... time for the C&D letters).

I agree, though... for Universal to make this kind of about face, there had to be some serious lack of communication somewhere. It's disgusting.
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From:intheyear2004
Date:October 26th, 2006 07:29 am (UTC)
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Here via MF.

If Universal gave a logo to the fans to make T-shirt of,they probably expected every fan to do their own T-shirt and were okay with that. They, understandably, didn't expect someone to open a shop with T-shirts with their logo on it, thus making money off their protected property. I don't know the fan in question and her work, but understand the copyright holder's reaction.
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From:mavjop
Date:October 26th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
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Yes, that is fair enough, however ... Universal aren't cracking down on people who are selling t-shirts with the logo they gave out for people to make their own shirt with.

Universal are using thug tactics on people who have created entirely original artwork with only a tenuous connection to their property.
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From:intheyear2004
Date:October 27th, 2006 09:30 am (UTC)
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Universal are using thug tactics on people who have created entirely original artwork with only a tenuous connection to their property.

If that is true why does she give in? I'd counter-sue them for harrassment.
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From:mavjop
Date:October 27th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
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Difficult to do when you're one person and they're a massive corporation with lawyers coming out their ears.
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From:mavjop
Date:October 26th, 2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
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BTW, "MF"?
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From:stargazercmc
Date:October 26th, 2006 11:42 pm (UTC)
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MF = metafandom.
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From:mavjop
Date:October 27th, 2006 12:32 am (UTC)
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Ah, ok. :) Thanks for clarifying! =) I had never heard of it before.
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