). Some of you may be familiar with a science fiction television show "firefly," cancelled despite a small cult following, later made into a movie, entitled "serenity." Universal studios in an effort to promote the movie encouraged fans to market the movie by
[creating] a community [the browncoats] around the release of Serenity that harnessed the power of a large member base that exceeded the most optimistic of expectations. Members were encouraged to form regional groups to promote the film and perform activities that would help generate word of mouth, like creating bumper stickers and gift cards to accompany the DVD release. (beaffinitive)
Can you predict what happened next?
With the shutting down of Blue Sun Shirts at the behest of FOX, cease and desist letters going out to owners of Browncoat shops on CafePress, at least one fan-favorite promoter receiving a demand from Universal Studios Licensing LLC for nearly $9,000 in retroactive licensing fees, and the resulting chilling effect leading to other fans shutting down preemptively many Browncoats got to thinking about just how many hours they spent on helping to market and promote Serenity, in essence with the tacit agreement of Universal Pictures, if not their outright official encouragement. (browncoatinvoice.com)
File under "imitating the RIAA - how to win the heart and minds of your fans - sue them"
Typical. These guys want it all. They want the free promotion, but only in a way that provides them eyeballs and money and in no way benefits the promoter. They're fearful of losing control and greedy.
I wrote something vaguely related to this topic: StarTribune is not del.icio.us.
The StarTribune has "Save to del.icio.us" links on all their stories, apparently hoping to use social bookmarking to promote themselves, but then most of their content moves behind the paywall after a few weeks.
Like I said, is vaguely related. They want that short-term boost of promotion, but then they're going to lock things down. Different because, so far as I know, they're not suing people for bookmarking them yet.
It's the lawyers that get the full force of my swing. What a bunch of assholes. It was absolutely unnecessary to go after them with the force they did. To be clear - Universal is not only in the right, but it almost has to stop the unauthorized use of its IP - if they don't, why would I ever bother paying for a license from them? But they way they went about this? Appalling. Any lawyer worth his rate should have figured that out.