In the ongoing struggle for control of copyrights and intellectual property in the digital age, Firefly fans are the latest group to find themselves on the receiving end of a corporate smackdown. It seems that Universal has recently decided to try and make up for the box office failure of the Serenity movie by suing the only people who actually paid to see it! Various Firefly fan sites have reportedly received cease & desist letters this month for using unauthorized fan-created images. In particular, they seem to be targetting sites that are selling fan-made merchandise and t-shirts, such as 11th Hour Art, who were required to pay a retroactive $8750 licensing fee.
Now it’s pretty clear to me that profiting off of names and trademarks that belong to someone else is illegal. However, I think Universal is going to regret their specific choice of action here as Firefly fans probably constitute, oh, I’d say about 95% of the internet and most of them are none too pleased about such cold legal threats. As some have mentioned, Universal practically begged fans to help promote Serenity when it was first released, so it does seem a bit underhanded to tell them to stop promoting it after the fact. What do you think, should fans be allowed to keep the faith alive with their home brew merch, or is Universal right to put a stop to this?» Related Link: Cinematical