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Universal trying to kill all fan-made Serenity merchandise

Sunday 29 October 2006, by Webmaster

This weeks big ‘fuck you’ goes out to the wealthy Mercedes driving pigs that are trying to put the ‘Browncoats’ in their place. The Browncoats, if you don’t know, are those stringent fans of Joss Whedon’s short-lived TV series “Firefly” and film spin-off “Serenity” - without them (we did a fair bit for the film too, actually) that film spin-off would never have been. Ya see, as soon as FOX cancelled Whedon’s sensational “Firefly”, these fans did whatever they could to make sure that the TV/film world didn’t forget about the passengers of the Firefly vessel, and as good as forced Universal into greenlighting a film version of the thing. Now as much marketing (ahem) as Universal did for “Serenity’, they didn’t do half as much as the fans did for it. Whatever money this thing made was because of the fans flying the banner and getting the word out. Sure, Universal put up a couple of snazzy new forum websites - - -but it was the fans, with their 24-7 back and forward postings, and referrals, that made the sites popular. They were essentially the ‘unpaid marketing team’.

As soon as “Serenity” failed to break the ‘success’ margin, Universal dropped both the fans and the franchise like a ton of bricks. And now, just to prove how single-minded and egoistic they are (frankly, I just think people with power love to remind people that they possess the power to squash them), they’re trying to kill some ‘fan-made’ “Serenity” merchandise - stuff that is only helping keep the ‘Serenity’ name alive, mind you! - from selling without their approval. OK, look, I understand that the fan-made merchandise that is being sold at CafePress isn’t official, and they shouldn’t be doing it, but look - - these guys did a shitload of volunteer marketing for your movie, have some fuckin’ respect!

Yes, you should probably stop them from doing it, but surely there’s a nicer way to go around it then essentially getting the legal department to scare them shitless with a “stop now. You are doomed. We’re about to steal the shirt off your back” email - which is essentially what’s happened. There’s an opportunity for BOTH parties here, ya see. Imagine these ‘successful’ T-Shirt creators/merchants teaming up with Universal? It could be a win-win for both, but some are just too short-sighted. The Browncoats are taking it really well, and have been the ‘bigger’ ones in this case, here’s their response on the SerenityStuff.com site : “Lot of panicking going on right now, and rightfully so. 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”, says the site.

“So, they can take our ship and take our crew and leave us to buy whatever licensed items are left over. But, and this is an important but, they can’t take the ‘verse from us.”

What Universal have asked ‘the people who promoted their movie for them’ to do is “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”, says the http://forums.prospero.com/foxfirefly/messages?msg=32591.1 11th Hour site.

Isn’t there a nicer way to go about this?