Why should fans buy products of a company that does not respect them? Yet only recently Warner Brothers used "Big Foot" letters to scare off fans who used the name "Harry Potter" in their domain name or as part of their site. Some fantasy authors and artists are also known to use this method to harass fansites.
Another option that has been favored in the past has been to give the rights to create derivative work to an officially sanctioned fan club or game site. This gives fans the opportunity to enjoy their fandom to their hearts content while the original creator retains some influence over his work.
Owners of such an officially sanctioned club pay a heavy price for their fandom because often they cannot undertake any activity that can be construed as commercial, such as asking for fees for the maintenance of the club or to pay back production costs of an activity. In some cases, especially when dealing with a corporation instead of a single author, this even includes not being allowed to have advertisement banners on their clubwebsite.
Sadly, the existence of fan clubs/games has given rise to situations of fan abuse by power hungry clubowners, especially in those instances where the club has exclusive rights. Fans that refuse to follow the concept and views of the clubowner might find themselves in deep water.
Instead of just facing the original creator of the work, the fan now suddenly faces a second party that might start legal action, as well as a shunning within the fan community if they do not follow the rules. In the view of R.A.D.I.C.A.L., giving exclusive rights to run a fanclub there for is not a recommended practice.
There must be a middle ground, where fans can enjoy their fandom in all its wondrous variety, while at the same time we are respectful of the copyrights of the original owner. We must strive to keep our RPG community as lively as possible and authors and artist should feel free to participate just as much as fans.
1. The Fair Use Clause
We heartily recommend that all owners of copyright and trademark, whether a single original creator or a big corporation, place a fair use clause on their website and for instance in the backend of their books.
This Fair Use Clause should contain the conditions under which a fan may safely create derivative work without the fear of threatening legal letters. For instance, if you as the creator feel uncomfortable with fans describing your own characters in other situations, here is the place to ask fans to respect that. Here is a short example as created by R.A.D.I.C.A.L. for the online game Tazlure: