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Big Media's War On Fan Websites

1006 words - 5 pages

It seems like the fight between legal departments at major movie and TV studios and fan producers of websites has reached a fever pitch. In late September, the legal department of Fox TV sent out notices to cease and desist to two webmasters of fan "King Of The Hill" websites. Fox Primetime has cracked down on fan sites before, most notably those saluting "The X-Files."

It boggles the mind why fan sites pose such a threat to the studios. It would seem that for a fan to take the time and spend the money to build a website without any hope of financial reward would be the supreme compliment to a given show. I know of no fan site which makes money. Usually, unless the webmaster has a ...view middle of the document...

We are talking about a sample that's only a few seconds long, which the people who painstakingly make the sample slave over without any hope of recompense, and which takes up frightfully large chunks of server space.

This goes double for the most controversial element of fan sites -- video clips. AVI Video For Windows and QuickTime video files are extremely largely sized. The underground classic short "The Spirit Of Christmas," made by the animators who would later go on to make the hit cable series "South Park" takes up a mind-numbing 50 Megabytes in filesize. Not a casual download to say the least. Unless you have a Cable or ADSL connection to the internet, otherwise you would have to set your computer to download all night to get that file. I have a copy of the famous Apple Computer "1984" commercial that is 11 MB in size. Would I have downloaded that? I really don't think so. I got it from a CD-ROM that Apple put out for promotional purposes. Through MacAddict magazine, I believe off hand.

The studios argue that they are defending their trademarks from passing into the Public Domain, I don’t think so! All of the fan sites I have seen have been scrupulous in giving proper trademark and copyright credits, including the Boomhauer(Did I spell that right?) site which is currently under fire by Fox TV Legal. A trademark cannot go into the Public Domain unless a trademark holder stops using the trademark, and/or specifically donates the trademark into the Public Domain.

Not every studio has been draconian in their response to fan sites. The independent animation studio Spumco International has been very kind to fan sites, and encourages them. Also the producers of the hit TV series "Babylon 5"(which has quieted down...

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