Here’s a roundup of legal issues stories that might be of interest to fans:
- Creators and copyright holders have various different types of engagement with fans, and these sometime end in conflict. A remix of Samuel Jackson’s reading of “Go the Fuck to Sleep” posted on YouTube was taken down although the remixer “maintained that his creative works don’t violate copyright, thanks to exemptions in copyright law that allow for “transformative” uses of copyrighted material.” And the basketball team the L.A. Clippers recently asked that their most recognizable fan stop using the name Clipper Darrell, which outraged many fans who noticed the team was perfectly happy to allow him the title when the team was doing poorly.
- An actor who briefly appeared in the U.S. show Community‘s Dr. Who spoof Inspector Spacetime sought fan funding for a six episode web-series based on the character/show premise. “Inspector Spacetime, has developed such a devoted internet following since it first showed up at the beginning of the fall season. So much so that it has its own Tumblr and history, which is as extensive as the show it’s spoofing.” However, he recently explained that “Lawyers from Sony and NBC have contacted me demanding that I cease production” but asked that contributions continue. “Richey is now calling the project “Untitled Webseries About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time” but [is] otherwise going ahead as planned.”
- The results of copyright struggles remain in debate, with some arguing that piracy is the natural result of producers’ actions. Citing a recent study on the effect of the lag in movie release times worldwide and how it had a noticeable effect on the decrease of movie downloading, one blogger asks “If you’re in the U.S., is piracy less of an issue than it used to be depending on the particular media and market? If you’re overseas, do you find that it’s easier to get pirated copies online of things that take months, if ever, to come out where you are?”
- A blogger who posted Fan Fiction: Moral Rights v. Transformative Use cited the OTW’s argument that fan fiction is “an act of transformative creation constituting fair use under 17 USC § 107” while examining the case of Diana Gabaldon and George R. R. Martin. He suggests Gabaldon “is trying to build a case…for an author’s moral rights.” While the aspect of noncommerciality as a fair use factor is not mentioned, he argues that “much fan fiction originates from a more participatory impulse. Gabaldon and Martin ask why fanfic writers don’t just develop their own characters, or at least appropriate old characters in the public domain (Jane Eyre, for instance), but I think they’re not accounting for this impulse, a desire to participate actively in the culture.”
- Copyright holders themselves may have trouble participating in the culture depending on what their work focuses on. PayPal has issued directives to online ebook retailers that is erasing particular forms of erotic content from the marketplace. “Smashwords founder Coker said that the rise of e-books has shifted more power in the book world to payment processors and banks. In the past, readers walked into a physical bookstore and could purchase a book with cash, leaving such companies out of the equation. “Electronic payments have become the oxygen of e-commerce and e-books, so PayPal, banks and credit card companies have enormous power,” Coker said. “What right does a financial institution have to censor legal content? Authors are being caught in the middle.””
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