OTW Fannews: Fandom Legal Topics

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  • The Age reported on a lawsuit involving the founders of The Writers Coffee Shop. "The lawsuit asks the court to recognise that TWCS is an ongoing partnership and, as a partner, Pedroza is entitled to 25 per cent of the profits. Pedroza and Beebe are seeking...'to trap funds not yet paid by Random House'" as a result of their rights purchase for Fifty Shades of Grey. The plaintiffs claim that Amanda "Hayward, 'fraudulently' restructured TWCS under the guise of tax minimisation, without the knowledge of the partners, so payments from the Random House deal, signed in March 2012, flowed exclusively to herself."
  • A post at Screen Invasion suggested that companies using Amazon's Kindle Worlds were setting a precedent for the “potential market” factor of fair use. However, it is the pornier side of fanfiction that is likely to be unaffected. "TV’s GG can show a blush-worthy encounter between Chuck and Blair in his limo’s spacious backseat...but Kindle Worlds can reject a GG fanfic that describes a similar tryst based on the author’s word-choice. Ergo, sites featuring only blue fan-fiction do not impact the same market(s) as their un-obscene peers." This argument tracks to the case involving The Wind Done Gone, since part of that legal argument was that there was no lost revenue because Margaret Mitchell's estate would never have licensed such a work.
  • Evergreen State College's student newspaper posted an open letter from faculty about threats to academic freedom involving a parody theater piece about Disney content. "On Monday of week eight, without consulting the faculty sponsors, Dean Reece issued a written request to fundamentally alter the script, with indication that the college would prevent the students from using campus facilities to perform the script as written." The letter cited the fair use aspects of the work and their belief that a fear of legal action was behind the effort to alter the performance.
  • TIME looked at aspects of One Direction fanfiction following a high-profile fanfic book deal. "Jamison also notes that the idea of making money from fanfiction — something long seen as dubious among fans, even as recently as 50 Shades of Grey — doesn’t seem to be so strange to younger and newer fanfic writers...After all, it’s much less legally thorny to file off those serial numbers when the inspiration is reality: changing the names of a boy band doesn’t risk overstepping the fair use of someone else’s creation. And besides, it’s a time-honored tradition. As Jamison says: 'Every fiction author bases their characters on real people.'”

What fandom-related legal issues have you heard about? Create some entries for them on Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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