Teh Interwebs are on fire with the rage of Sci-Fi fans and crafty knitters. Hey, don’t mock the wrath of knitters. They are armed with sharp pointy things and they know how to use them. Sci-fi fans, we’re used to a little mockery… but don’t come between a geek and her toys!
The best coverage of the anti-Browncoat hubbub is at Buzzfeed. It includes photos of the cease and desist letters, some surprising toadying letters by Etsy and some really terrific snaps of fans in hats, including someone who made a full-body costume as the you-guessed-it Jayne Hat.
“Firefly” Hat Triggers Corporate Crackdown
Because Firefly fans need more reasons to be mad at Fox. After years of satisfied customers, online stores selling hand-knitted replicas of the show’s iconic “Jayne hat” are being forced to shut down… and fans are upset.
The article ends with:
“It needs to be stated that legally, morally, and ethically, Fox has every right to insist upon only licensed versions of its property,” writes one fan. “Really, it has something of a fiduciary obligation to its shareholders to protect anything it owns that could make them money, as that’s a corporation’s job.”
“However, notwithstanding the legal, moral, and ethical ground upon which Fox Legal is standing, culturally speaking the move is almost complete ass. They can be legally, morally, and ethically in the right and still have this stink to high heaven.”
Fox Legal did not respond to BuzzFeed’s request for comment.
From the Blastr article:
We reached out to both Ripple Junction and ThinkGeek to see what, if any, involvement they had in the sending of C&Ds. Both companies denied involvement.
So does this really mean no more handmade Jayne hats? Well, no. People can still make them, they just can’t sell them right now. As to whether you can copyright a simply patterned hat, that argument is ongoing.
So far, Ripple Junction, the new maker of the only official Jayne Hat has also refused to comment. ThinkGeek, who is partially responsible for the whole mess (they bought the hats from now banned crafters and pursued getting an “official hat” made for their resale convenience), has apologized, offers sympathy to Etsy sellers but claim to be powerless to correct the mistake.
I’m not a lawyer and do not play one on TV but as a writer and an artist, I’m continually involved in discussions about corporations abuse of smaller artists and the issue of copyright infringement, trademark, etc.
All cease and desist letter proves is that Fox can afford to hire lawyers. Their lawyer asserting they have the right to put small artists out of business, does not make it so. Only a judge and a jury of reasonable people can decide if the applicable laws apply here. But the fear of the expense of the legal system is enough to intimidate most people into compliance.
I rage-spit at the acceptance of any fan that “Fox is ethically or legally in the right.”
I think the lack of interest in an intellectual property for A DECADE and then to attack individual skilled artisans/hobbyists who are making knit hats (one at a time!) as if they were somehow in competition. SHAME on Etsy for kowtowing to such threats and further trying to shame and intimidate sellers into not discussing it in forums. The only thing they (Fox and their ilk) can control is the use of the name Firefly. They didn’t purchase the color scheme and hat style from a hat stylist. Etsy should allow sellers to simply rename the hats as the unofficial fan hats that they are. To allow this kind of corporate bullying is no different than if we suddenly allowed them to say only Brand X costumes can be worn at comic-con. Eviscerate the gorram bloodsuckers! I want to know what “Ripple Junction” has as their best seller because I’m calling for a boycott on THAT until they apologize and rescind their stupidity! It may also be time to look at all the indie markets and see which protect the rights of their sellers rather than just rip and burn and assume the law is in favor of whoever can afford the biggest lawyers. The reality is that public domain and common interest are real things and copyrights, trademarks etc cannot be “protected” once they are basically free range.
More shiny links:
Ma Cobb’s Hat Shoppe is no longer at Etsy. And although “unofficial” no doubt she can knit you an ugly hat for the cost of yarn and labor.
more coverage of Fox’s asshat move: