29 October 2006 @ 01:27 pm
universal vs. fans  
Uhm. So I didn't hear about any of this because I'm a bit removed from the Firefly/"Serenity" fandom right now, but ozw has just brought this to my attention.

Remember when "Serenity" was coming out, Universal was all supportive of guerilla marketing and campaigning and fans and fansites? Universal is now sending C&Ds to "Serenity"-related fansites and shops.

First up, the report from Whedonesque from earlier this week:

Universal Licensing LLC closing Serenity/Firefly fan shops. Fans getting C&D orders, Cafepress have removed all search results for Firefly and Serenity. 20th Century Fox closed another site earlier in the month. Edit: Chris says 'Some shopowners have gotten notices from Universal's legal people about infringement, with some serious language (not just Cease and Desist).' Edit: Black Market Beagles closing. (read more)

Next, a statement from 11th Hour, posted to the Firefly boards:

The Demand continues, and includes such stipulations that within 72 hours I must agree to: pay a retroactive $8,750 licensing fee; the permanent closing of my shop; turn over any merchandise referring to the Universal Property; and provide the last 12 months complete sales records... there's more, but that's the gist... oh, except for the threat of federal court and the statutory damages thingy of $150,000 per infringed work... don't want to go leaving that part out. (read more)

There is interesting commentary resulting from that at Whedonesque, including whether or not it would be worth it to boycott Universal.

See also, the Open Letter to Browncoats at Serenity Stuff:

After years of the careful and unspoken "we won't notice fan-made stuff as long as it doesn't compete with our own merchandise, should we ever get around to making any" attitude from FOX and Universal, a conflict has arisen and a heavy hand is making itself known. No longer will fans get away with their own Serenity logo T-shirts or barely-Photoshopped crewmember designs. It's not worth the hassle and Universal is well within their rights to block such things, even though in the real world I suspect this will end up costing them a lot in good will and fan backlash.

Finally, there is The Browncoat Invoice. Fans have been asked to write in and submit the total number of hours they have spent promoting and marketing "Serenity." Billable hours so far stand at 20,257 with a estimated amount due being $1,519,275.

So when we all talk about how any studio and its producers are supportive of fans and our free promotion of them and their works, let's not forget there is always a licensing department out their ready to change their minds when it suits them.

Oh. And the "I am a Fan" shirts at Black Market Beagles make me laugh.
Current Mood: annoyedannoyed
Current Music: Bear McCreary // Passacaglia
Dave Wong aka Eggrolldsw_777 on October 29th, 2006 07:04 pm (UTC)
Oh boy... Did u post this on SFhero yet? Dan should know.
Amezriamezri on October 29th, 2006 08:02 pm (UTC)
Not yet,I'll do that right now :)
Jennifer L. Andersoncrzydemona on October 29th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)
Good grief... way to pay back the fans for helping promote a movie. Grrrr.
Amezriamezri on October 29th, 2006 08:03 pm (UTC)
I know. I hate corporate people.
tj: Angel - Cordy Fuck youveracity on October 29th, 2006 08:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, for the love of pete. Is Universal REALLY that stupid?! Wait, why am I asking? Of course they are. They're not just screwing around with their profits, but the pie slices that those involved make too. What a bunch of ninnified nutjobs. It's going to cause them more harm than good. They're the ones that were depending on that grassroots campaign to get the movie into theaters. Not that I was watching at the time, but I do remember the rumblings on the Jossverse sites about it. Money is making these people act like fools. Without fans, there would be no market. Dur. Without fans, there wouldn't have been a big demand for the movie. The show could have died at the 13 and that be all. It's thanks to those that buy the product that Universal is even making any money.

Only fools piss off their customer base. Don't believe me? Just ask WB after they announced the cancellation of Angel, or better yet, check out a page of Variety when the SG-1 folks bought that space. Fans memories are long, and as bunch, we're pretty revengeful.
Amezriamezri on October 29th, 2006 08:25 pm (UTC)
*nods* I just posted this article and another at That Forum, only because it's really scary how fast a company can go from "yay, fans!" to "let's sue them all!" and some people are just oblivious.
tjveracity on October 29th, 2006 08:35 pm (UTC)
It's absolutely flabbergasting. The thing is, all people have to do is spread the word, and it could be bad news. I was absolutely thrilled at the Firefly panels, and wanted to buy Firefly (remember?) but now? Not so much. Same with Serenity. I'll just have someone rip me a copy. I hate that people are getting screwed in the outcome, but honestly, I'm not giving my money to people that don't understand the basics: without fans, there is no product. If no one is willing to buy, spend the money, then a movie will fall flat. Even a grassroots campaign doesn't gaurantee a success. Didn't Snakes On A Plane do well the first couple weeks then it slid off the charts? It takes dedication to get people continually willing to buy a movie that hasn't been in theaters in a while, and to buy a DVD box set that goes with it. I just. It's mind-boggling how stupid a corporation can be. Someone needs to check these yahoos and remind them of basic Marketing 101 lessons.
Amezriamezri on October 29th, 2006 08:42 pm (UTC)
Wait, wait. BUY FIREFLY! Because that property is actually completely separate from "Serenity," legally speaking. :o

And you know.. boycotting is the gut instinct, but that really just hurts the people who invested the time and the energy into making the show -- the studios generally don't give a crap. The only boycotts that seemd to work were the ones where large groups of people boycotted supporting companies of the one sendingout C&Ds and then wrote those companies to tell them why.
tjveracity on October 29th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
Yes, but my money is my only voice. If I were to buy Serenity, then that would be *not* proving a point to Universal. What I mean is that by buying it, I would be essentially encouraging them to do this repeatedly. It's the only way I can make a stand. I don't have a media voice, or anything like it, so my money that would spend on it is the only foot in the door so to speak. That's *why* I won't buy it. It's nothing to do with the people involved, I actually don't want to take money away from them, but that's only choice I have.
Amezriamezri on October 29th, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
Well... okay. True. But you should still buy Firefly the series because it is completely unrelated to this Universal debacle ;) Maybe if the Firefly DVD sales continue to be strong, JOss will be able to go on to other firefly related projects like he wants to without involving Universal.
tjveracity on October 29th, 2006 09:03 pm (UTC)
Well, yes. I'm just afraid that Fox won't buddy up with Universal in on this. They're not the brighest bunch either. Hopefully, Joss can, but I hold little hope simply because of liscensing agreements and such. That's the crux of it all. It's his work but he doesn't really own it much anymore. It's owned by those that bought the right to develope it. Call me cynical, but I hold no faith some corps anymore.
tjveracity on October 29th, 2006 09:04 pm (UTC)
er, WILL buddy up, rather.
Amezriamezri on October 29th, 2006 09:08 pm (UTC)
I doubt it. Fox is always the first to go after the fansites and they've pretty much left the Firefly ones alone -- they must not see it as a viable property anymore and seem to just not care.

The Universal thing is just totally BIZARRE. No one has any clue why they're doing this now.
tjveracity on October 29th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
That's true, but it could be like a bandwagon effect too. You know? Fox didn't start this one, but "hey, since it's happening anyway..." I really hold no faith with studios, probably because of the generation I'm in, but mostly because I've seen them act like fools since the Internet became so popular.

They're doing it because someone ran across it and went "Wait, we aren't making money off this, and we paid big bucks for these rights. I don't think so, buddy."
Bridgettea_fiend on October 29th, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
So we're boycotting Universal now? Okay. *takes mental note*

In other news, I have loads of emails about joining the Build-a-Bear Workshop friends club. Apparently it's because of some opt-in mailing list relating to Scholastic, but I disagree. I suspect your love of bears has developed a mind of its own, and is running around with a list of your contacts and selling email addresses to all and sundry. Give that bear-love a spank from me.
yueni: brain killeryueni on October 30th, 2006 05:46 pm (UTC)
Oiiii. I just browsed by on this, and I'm going to link you from my LJ since you've already listed a large number of pertinent sites on there. I know I have at least two or three billable promotion hours for the invoice, and my flist is rife with Firefly/Serenity fans.

Dear Universal,

Please don't piss off the fans, kthx.

Annoyed fan.
Amezriamezri on October 31st, 2006 01:17 am (UTC)
Hey there! Link away. Universal is really being jerky about this whole thing.
Vaidahalorarose on November 6th, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC)