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.