OTW Fannews: Collective action

  • Fans and the general public are becoming less tolerant of corporate overreaches in copyright claims. A crackdown on Etsy vendors marketing Firefly-related hats caused sufficient outrage that one outlet selling the licensed hats decided to donate its profits to a Firefly charity. Yet as The Mary Sue pointed out, at least part of the anger was because now that “Fox has actually decided to license merchandise based on the ten year old television series” they’re “taking shots at the smaller, unlicensed retailers that have been serving the market niche they’ve been ignoring.”
  • Other overreaches garnered an even larger response, prompting the enforcement-happy Disney company to change an upcoming film title. “[T]he Internet flipped out in response to the news that Disney had filed several applications to trademark the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, which is the subject of an upcoming Pixar film. The freak out-age is completely justified: Trademarking Día de los Muertos would be exploitative, appropriative, and disrespectful of Mexican culture, plus it’s just downright insane (owning trademark to a holiday? C’mon, Disney). Luckily the massive amount of criticism got Disney to back off.”
  • Collective action seems key. Research fellow Nicholas Theisen wrote about copyright in relation to manga and scanlations as well as examining issues surrounding fair use. “[M]edia companies quite often bully individuals and smaller companies into abdicating fair use rights simply by virtue of being able to spend more money on lawyers and on legal means of protecting one’s IP.” This doesn’t affect just fans but also scholars. “[I]t has become standard practice for publishers of comics scholarship to demand that authors get express written permission for each and every image to be reproduced, even though a work of scholarship is an obvious example of fair use.” The problem is one that doesn’t even reach litigation. “Scholars regularly lament this state of affairs, yet there is little pushback, because, at the end of the day, if you don’t get the permissions, your book doesn’t get published, and if your book doesn’t get published, the likelihood of your getting tenure plummets. The practice of publishers is likely never to change unless people at some point say “no,” at very real risk to themselves and their careers.”
  • The new U.S. H.R. 1892 bill would amend the DMCA to require that circumvention be in aid of copyright infringement to be unlawful. This would fix a number of issues, including the OTW’s need to get an exemption for vidders every three years. U.S. fans to whom these exemptions are important might want to contact their representatives in support of the bill.

What collective action have you seen bring about a success for fans? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

News of Note
  1. Rebecca Tushnet commented:

    Here’s a link to a page that makes it easy for US voters to contact their representatives in support of the law. http://fixthedmca.org/unlocking-technology-act.html

    • Claudia Rebaza commented:

      I’ve edited our link.