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The Debate on Fandom Continues

Written by Dee Dreslough

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The article “A R.A.D.I.C.A.L. view on Fandom” by Tanja de Bie explored the dangers fans of copyrighted and trademarked material are exposed to, as well as the concerns of the owners of copyright and/or trademarks, and ended with a set of three recommendations to solve this the radical way.

1. The Fair Use Clause
Owners of copyright and trademarks should recognize the important role fans play in selling and promoting their material by allowing them to create deritative work under a Fair Use clause.

2. Ensuring that Sanctioned Fan Clubs and Sites are Inclusive
Owners of copyright and trademarks have the responsibility to ensure that fans do not fall victim to powerabuse by other fans by preventing exclusion out of clubs (shunning out of a community) and the enforcement of a single “right” view on the creative material.

3. A Code of Honor
Fans should ensure their deritative work has enough originality of its own, without crying foul over similarities between the deritative work and later published original work by the owners of copyright and/or trademarks. Fans should not try to force their views on the material on other fans. There is never just a single view on a piece of creative work.

A big 'YAY' for this paragraph: “Remember that the content of the Big Foot letter at this stage of the legal process has not been proven in a court of law, and the concept of Fair Use is usually ignored. The assertions of the lawyers of the big company might not hold up in court, but would you risk it?”

People often forget that a big foot letter is just a threat. Often the copyright owner has no intention of following through. It’s as expensive for them as it is for the fan to wage that legal battle. Please, try not to be emotionally devastated (like I and many of my friends have been) when these letters come through. The lawyers just use these tactics to get the result they want, and they do not care about the negative consequences or the loving fans they turn against their client through this method.

Fans: I recommend that you change your work enough so that you are in the clear, and that you feel *comfortable* again sharing your work, and go on your merry way. This bigfoot crap is just the way the lawyers tend to play this game -- even though they do not really have to. It is like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. They do not realize that most fans will gladly back down if approached in a non-threatening manner, and they will remain fans.

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